The fallout from last week's vicious knockout continues on the latest episode of The Ultimate Fighter Nations, as Kajan Johnson feels the sting of a broken jaw courtesy of his teammate and close friend Chad Laprise.
It was one of the nastiest finishes in the history of The Ultimate Fighter when Laprise connected with a counterpunch that landed flush, breaking Johnson's jaw in two places. As he heads off to the hospital, how will the teams react to his devastating loss and even tougher injury?
Laprise is definitely the one hardest hit by Johnson's injury as the next episode kicks off because while he understands that MMA is just a job, and it's business as usual inside the cage, he can't quite shake off the unnerving feeling that he just destroyed his friend's dream while literally shattering his jaw in the process. The entire cast from TUF Nations is still reeling from the knockout as well, not to mention the apparent snubbing that Johnson endured trying to find someone to work his corner while Laprise ended up with three people in his.
While the whole house reacts to Johnson's injury, there's no rest for the weary because the next middleweight semifinal is set to take place this week when Canadian favorite Elias Theodorou takes on wild child Tyler Manawaroa.
Ahead of the fight, the focus for the Canadians remains on strategy, as well as some additional teaching courtesy of former UFC middleweight champion Murilo Bustamante, who stops by for a visit and helps Theodorou prepare for his upcoming matchup. Manawaroa has a different approach to his preparation, and there are a few interesting components to his training that will probably raise a few eyebrows.
When it comes down to fight time, Theodorou vs. Manawaroa is a clash that serves as a throwback to some of the early days of the UFC. Coming into the house this season, Theodorou was a favorite to win the entire competition given his veteran experience and a style that's tough to combat inside the cage.
Theodorou is well-rounded and undefeated as a professional, so he knows how to win, but the way he gets there can be a grind. Theodorou loves to press his weight on an opponent, and work them over until he breaks their spirit or they just have no fight left in them. An imposing fighter at 185 pounds, Theodorou also possesses world-class cardio, so with this fight potentially going 15 minutes, there's not much of a chance he'll gas out before the final bell sounds.
On the other side of the cage stands Tyler Manawaroa, who won in his first round matchup against Canadian Nordine Taleb. Manawaroa was as tough as shoe leather in the fight, coming back from everything Taleb could throw at him and still giving more back before the fight was over.
Manawaroa is a brawler, which is why this fight could very well end up as a classic UFC fight where one guy just wants to knock his opponent's head off. Manawaroa is definitely more than just a hard hitter because, as he showed in the final seconds in his fight against Taleb, he's got legitimate ground skills and some slick reversals to escape bad positions.
Chances are that if Manawaroa wants to win this fight, he's going to have to find a way to get out of Theodorou's clutches. The Canadian has to know his opponent is going for the knockout, and in those moments when they are standing in the center of the Octagon and hands are flying, bad things can definitely happen.
Still, as fights go, for as exciting as Manawaroa may be on paper, ultimately the better fighter with more ways to win the fight should come out on top - and in this case that should be Elias Theodorou. While the Canadian middleweight didn't exactly build enthusiasm based on his last fight against Zeib Saliba, all that matters is that he gets the job done and walks out the victor.
So long as he stays away from crazy exchanges or scrambles and executes a sound game plan, Theodorou should be moving on to the finals of The Ultimate Fighter Nations on April 16 in Quebec City, Quebec.