TUF Nations: Daniel Kelly Fighter Blog, Episode 1

image via UFC.com

image via UFC.com

The Ultimate Fighter® Nations: Canada vs. Australia showcases the newest crop of fighters on the Ultimate Fighting Championship® (UFC®) organization’s storied reality series. A cast of welterweight and middleweight fighters is coached by Patrick Côté (20-8) of Team Canada and Team Australia is led by Kyle Noke (20-6-1).

In the fifth international edition, dubbed TUF Nations, eight Australian fighters traveled all the way to Montreal, Canada to battle it out against eight Canadians for a shot at a six-figure contract with the UFC and to be crowned the next Ultimate Fighter.

The blog below is written by Team Australia’s Dan Kelly (6-0). This is a reflection of his experience as seen through his eyes in episode 1.

We had a really long flight over. This was made worse by the fact that our flights were cancelled and we had a delay in Sydney for 10 hours. In my years in judo, I have travelled a lot, so managing jet lag is part of a routine. It is never easy and in my experience I have found flying to North America as one of the worst.

It was a very exciting drive out to the TUF gym mainly because we were going to meet our opposition. Some of the guys in the team had done some research going in, I had done none. Before I left, I was working managing a café and had opened a gym, I hadn’t had time to scratch myself. Waiting to go into the gym made the whole experience very real.

Going into the gym, seeing Dana White on Skype also gave me tingles down my spine. I was also nervous anticipating if I might be picked to fight. I had prepared to fight as soon as I arrived.

I was convinced they were going to pick me, but so did all the guys. So everyone was on edge and the Canadians had control of picking the first fight.

It was a weird feeling of disappointment and relief when they picked 170 to fight first. It just prolonged the waiting game, which I am not good at.

Our first sparring session helped relieve some of that tension. I actually felt really good in the first few sessions, and I was recovering well from jet lag.

When we first arrived at the house it was amazing. It was beautiful and just how I would have imagined a lodge in the forest would look like. Luckily, we were first to the house and got to have first dips in the kitchen. It was great for us to BBQ in winter, which never happens in Australia. Then, the Canadians arrived.

Kajan Johnson and Elias Theodorou were very loud, and borderline obnoxious. Nordine Taleb was little hostile to all the Aussies. I think everyone was nervous and trying to see how we were going to interact with each other.

I am one of the oldest people in the house, some of the guys are almost young enough to be my kids. I coach a lot of judo at home in Melbourne with athletes of different ages, so I was interested to see how I would get along with the rest of the guys, in particular the young ones.

The Canadians overall were behaving in a very confident matter and we could hear them while we were in our room upstairs, bagging us saying we were not at their level blah blah blah. But at the end of the day, they can think however they like. Brendan O’Reilly really let these things get to him. He is a really good guy who is quite emotional about everything.

What was really a focus was the process of weigh in and fight and how it would happen. In a way Brendan, who was fighting first, was a guinea pig for us all to see what went on with weigh-in, and hand-wrapping, and the fight. I had only ever had my hands wrapped by my trainer in the past and to see a professional cutman do it was another point that let us know we were in the big time.

We were all behind Brendan for his fight and wanted to get off on the right foot for the team. Brendan came out really well and scored good takedown, but I I think he was too emotional and pushed too hard for the takedown. Brendan’s stand up is good and I thought he would have an advantage on the feet. And how he got out of that leg lock, I will never know.

We were all demoralized at him losing and I was convinced again that I would be picked next so much so that I walked forward when they made the next announcement. But alas, they picked Zein Saliba to fight Elias and I must wait.

Thanks for reading and I will catch you next week!

TUF Nations will have a total of 12 episodes and airs Wednesdays on FOX Sports 1 at 10:00 p.m. EST. Daniel Kelly’s blogs will be published right here on MMA Fight Corner following each episode of TUF Nations.

For more show information, bios, videos and photos, visit ultimatefighter.com and follow the show on Twitter @UltimateFighter or on Facebook.com/TUF.

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