Posted 04/14/2014 by Mike Fagan in Untethered MMA

The Ultimate Fighter: Canada vs. Australia Finale Preview

The Ultimate Fighter: Canada vs. Australia comes to a close on Wednesday with two tournament finales, a coach’s fight between Patrick Cote and Kyle Noke, and a headliner featuring Tim Kennedy and a returning Michael Bisping. Now, I’m sure you’re asking yourself, There was an Ultimate Fighter season between Canada and Australia? There was, or at least I’m allowing myself to believe that there was, because I’m not fully convinced that the UFC isn’t just making shit up at this point. (Coming up on Fox Sports 1…the Ultimate Fighter: Team Io vs. Team Ganymede Finale!)

The Geo-Politics of Fight Promotion

The UFC made a wise decision tapping Patrick Cote and Kyle Noke as coaches for the show as they fulfill the two major requirements: 1) They’re UFC fighters. 2) They hail from Canada and Australia, respectively. They’re also mid-card fodder who haven’t fought in forever. Cote took a decision over Bobby Voelker last March, and Noke has been MIA since TKOing Charlie Brenneman back in September of 2012. (Brenneman was cut, took four fights outside the UFC, and returned against Beneil Dariush in January in the interim.)

With Fox unlikely to purchase a card headlined by two guys who have been out of action for a combined 31 months, the UFC sought out a new main event. Enter Michael Bisping and Tim Kennedy. Pretty good fight, pretty good rivalry, pretty good Fox Sports 1 main event. Pretty weird fight to put on in Quebec City as the headliner of a Canada vs. Australia-themed show.

Some might go so far as to call this “promotional malpractice.” Here you have a fight so obviously designed for anywhere in Texas or the UK, that could have drawn a decent gate for a B-show, that would have had a great crowd atmosphere. And…you put it in neutral territory? This makes about as much sense as the UFC signing Fedor Emelianenko in 2009 and scheduling him against Brock Lesnar in Paris.

Eye Candy

Patrick Cote and Kyle Noke aren’t the only two guys coming off a long layoff. Michael Bisping hasn’t fought in nearly a year thanks to a pair of surgeries to repair a detached retina. Tim Kennedy’s been telling media outlets that he won’t attack the injured right eye, which seems like a very dumb thing for a prize fighter to do, let alone talk about in public. In any event, fists and elbows and lower body extremities are going to wide up smacking Bisping in the face, and maybe something detaches the retina again and sends the eyeball flying into the fifth row and gives you a retrospective reason to watch the show.

Spider Line

Bisping has long talked about his desire to fight Anderson Silva, going so far as to call the idea of never fighting him “tragic” back in December. It seemed like Bisping’s dream vanished when Silva’s left leg came up lame in a way that would mean the end of a race horse. Instead, Silva seems intent on returning to the Octagon, and his second consecutive loss to Chris Weidman might prove to be Bisping’s godsend.

Win or lose – though preferably win – a fight with Michael Bisping makes perfect sense for Silva’s comeback. Bisping’s a credible, perennial-top-ten opponent who will stand with Silva without providing much of a KO threat. More importantly, it’s a fight the UFC can sell, and one they can put on in Vegas, Manchester, or Rio and take in a pretty good gate. This all flies out the window if Bisping’s eye flies into the fifth row.

Smear the Guy Who Calls Someone Queer

This seems to have snuck under the radar, but apparently Michael Bisping used the word “queer” in reference to a photo of Tim Kennedy wearing a dress. (Specifically, according to MMA Fighting, that he was “acting like a queer.”) I’m a Michael Bisping fan, if only because he seems to get under everyone else’s skin, and while I don’t need my cage fighters to be perfectly progressive human beings, it’s disappointing to hear and a dumb thing to say.

Of course, Kennedy has his own history of saying really dumb things (that I am too lazy to go look up). We’re also coming off a regional event that featured a fighter who passed out and fell off his stool allowed to continue fighting, so we’re talking about a pretty minor problem in the world of MMA.

Fun With Names

I don’t know any of the Ultimate Fighter finalists, and neither do you. So let’s make up some life stories:

Sheldon Westcott – Former cricket player turned MMA fighter. Wears a sweater vest to the cage. Has never left Australia.

Elias Theodorou – Quebec separatist. Once fell into a frozen lake. Now lives in a frozen lake.

Chad Laprise – Half-Canadian/half-Australian. Fought himself in every round of the tournament. Will be forced to fight in a 1.5 on .5 handicap match in the finale.

Olivier Aubin-Mercier – Former theater major who now fights professionally with a “stage combat” style.

Mike Fagan is a weekly contributor to MMA Owl. He also hosts Untethered MMA every Thursday at 7 p.m. ET. Follow him on Twitter

Mike Fagan