Note: All quotes and material were obtained firsthand by Bleacher Report through a one-on-one between Luke Harris and Bleacher Report's Riley Kontek.
Episode 11 begins with the ride back from the fight between Kajan Johnson and Chad Laprise. Everyone was concerned about Kajan and his injury. With the unpredictability of fighting, we could have easily been sitting there with Kajan, had Chad been the guy who got injured. However, we were here with Chad while Kajan went to the hospital.
None of us liked to see Kajan lose or get injured, including Chad. Chad was in a strange predicament and was genuinely upset that he hurt his friend, yet fulfilling his dreams at the same time and possibly winning $25k for Knockout of the Season.
It was great to see Kajan back at the house from the hospital, initially in good spirits. Later on, it wasn’t the case as the painkillers wore off. The pain of losing set in. It was heartbreaking to see a friend go through this.
Next up is Tyler Manawaroa vs. Elias Theodorou. Tyler truly lives up to his nickname "Wild Thing," both in his training and in his general demeanor. Kyle Noke thinks that Tyler is going to win easily. Tyler says he has no game plan. He just wants to get in there and “crack him.” Elias goofing around and wrestling with Tyler was pretty funny. The two had become friends, but Elias was calculated in his horseplay. Every time the two wrestled, Elias was thinking about the fight. Making mental notes, figuring out Tyler’s strengths and weaknesses. Pretty smart.
Tyler’s pre-fight diet was hilarious: Popcorn then French fries and tater tots cooked in oil. I joked around with the guys that I would have given Tyler some nutritional advice if he wasn’t fighting Elias. I'm not sure if it’s because he doesn’t know any better or because he doesn’t care, maybe both. Before he fought Nordine Taleb, he ate a full pizza. It cracked me up when Nordine said “I lost to a f*cking pizza eater.” Obviously, the broken foot played a role in that fight, but that comment was hilarious.
Elias is motivated for this fight. He has the ability to push the pace of the fight and has no quit in him.
It was a very cool experience having Murilo Bustamante as a guest instructor in the gym. The man is a legend in the sport being a former UFC Middleweight Champion and the founder of Brazilian Top Team.
I’ve had the pleasure of training with him in Brazil back in the Pride days, when the gym was packed with the Nogueira brothers, Paulo Filho, Mario Sperry and Ricardo Arona. He’s one of the guys who inspired me to start MMA. It seemed like a full circle to be instructed by him again. I kind of wish they showed a bit more of our training.
Before the fight, I predicted Elias winning, mainly due to his pace.
Tyler says that Elias doesn’t like to get punched in the head...as opposed to the rest of us who like to get punched in the head, haha. I always find it funny when people say that.
Next up was fight time. First round was mainly clinching with Elias controlling Tyler on the cage and securing a couple takedowns. Tyler briefly takes Elias’ back and Elias defends by jumping backwards to the canvas with Tyler on his back. Pretty unorthodox but that’s Elias! It worked for him although it almost gave me a heart attack.
Round two was led by a brief exchange then much of the same as round one with Elias grinding out the round. Tyler's only success was landing a knee to Elias’ face. Both guys end up in lots of strange positions in this crazy fight.
This fight reminds me of a cartoon where there's a big ball of smoke and hands, feet and other objects randomly protrude. When the smoke dissipates, the guy is beating himself up.
I agreed with Kyle Noke that Tyler is down two rounds going into the final frame. Round three hits the ground for a bit with Elias on top. Elias didn’t give Tyler any space and continued that until the end of the round. The fight wasn’t pretty, but it got Elias the win and he’s onto the Finals. Tyler was left frustrated.
"How’s my hair?" is all Elias said about the fight. I can identify with Tyler being frustrated in that he wasn’t able to show his skill set.
Next up is Olivier Aubin-Mercier vs. Team Australia’s Richard Walsh.
*Tune in next week to hear Luke's thoughts on the continued tension between teams, more in-depth stories from the house, and his thoughts on the fight between Olivier Aubin-Mercier and Richard Walsh. Follow Luke on Twitter@HayabusaHarris and follow his gym @Hayabusa_TC.