By: Nordine Taleb (with Ariel Shnerer)
Nordine Taleb, 32, was born in Saint-Tropez, France, but he currently resides in Montreal, QC., training out of the famed Tristar Gym. A veteran of 10 professional fights with an 8-2 record, Taleb represents Team Canada as a middleweight cast member on “The Ultimate Fighter: Nations.” Follow Taleb’s weekly blog as he shares his insider perspective into every episode.
On his journey…
Before I got the call, I was thinking about it all the time. I couldn’t even sleep at night.
I actually tried out for the U.S. version of “The Ultimate Fighter” in late August. I came very close to being a part of the show, but unfortunately I didn’t make the final cut. Shortly thereafter, tryouts were held for “TUF: Nations” and because the UFC had already seen me at the tryouts for season 19, they invited me to join the series.
My entire life is about making sacrifices, so it’s nothing new to me. I travelled for months at a time since a very young age, leaving friends and family behind, so six weeks of filming wasn’t a big deal. The real challenge was living with roommates and sharing the space 24 hours a day. I never had a roommate before.
I felt a little tension in the air during casting, as if the competition had already started. Everybody was ready to show off their skills, so I understood that I needed to be impressive to stand out. No one really bothered me or tried to push my buttons and even if they did, I probably didn’t take notice as I was in my zone and focused on what I had to do.
On familiar faces…
Obviously there are many teammates of mine from Tristar Gym on the Canadian team. Having guys there I knew before the show was very helpful, especially in my case since I never had roommates before.
I’m rooming with my undefeated teammates Olivier Aubin-Mercier and Chad Laprise. I know them from Tristar as training partners. They’re disciplined, respectful and quiet. A perfect match!
I immediately chose my real-life training partners to share a bedroom as I thought it would make my experience easier.
Plus Patrick Cote was a training partner of mine for years before the show and I always respected him. It was very nice to train with him again. Pat was very dedicated to the team and he did everything to help us evolve.
On his competition and demeanour…
I try to let my fighting do the talking. But I also look at people straight in the eyes because eyes never lie. My initial impression was that Sheldon Westcott would be my toughest competition as he seemed to have more fire in his eyes. To me, this made him the most dangerous.
I was pretty quiet during the debut episode as I was in observation mode. That’s part of my personality. I like to know who I’m dealing with before saying too much. Sometimes I figure it out fast. Sometimes it takes longer.
On the early drama…
Team Australia took exception with our team criticizing their experience and breaking down their records. But we weren’t saying anything insulting, so it was just drama.
We could hear them and they could hear us as well, but there’s a difference between what people might think they hear and what’s actually being said. Obviously they were listening to us and they got offended, but they got offended for no good reason.
Like I said on the show, we’ll see what happens in the octagon.
On Kajan Johnson’s mindset…
Kajan talked a lot about his positive mindset impacting his performance. I agree with what he’s saying, but my approach is a bit different.
Kajan tries to have fun all the time, even when it’s time to fight. I have fun during training sessions, but not when the lights are on. We’re the same in a way, but different.
The truth is that if you don’t have fun doing what you do for a living, you’re wasting your time!
On the fight…
The matchup between Kajan Johnson and Brendan O’Reilly was exactly the fight we wanted.
I wasn’t surprised to see Brendan try to take him down right away. In fact, Brendan did exactly what we expected of him, so Kajan worked on that during his training sessions.
On the aftermath…
Team Australia was very surprised about how quickly the fight ended. They’re very patriotic and the outcome seemed to affect the whole team.
Let’s just say they were a bit more quiet that night.
On next week…
We thought Zein Saliba was a perfect matchup for Elias Theodorou, but Zein was very determined to win the fight, so we’ll see. The next episode is definitely full of action, so it will be fun to watch.
Catch “The Ultimate Fighter: Nations” every Wednesday at 10 p.m. ET on Sportsnet 360.