The Fighters Tell Dana Who They Want to Fight in the Semifinals
The fighters that have advanced were called into a meeting with UFC president Dana White via Skype video chat and asked who they wanted to face in the semifinal round.
Team Canada’s Kajan Johnson was first to enter. He said he’d fight whomever they put him in there with but preferred to face Team Australia’s Richard Walsh.
Walsh requested a match-up with Johnson. “I’m just going to pick the guy that I wanted to fight right from the get-go, and that’s Kajan. He’s beaten one of my mates on the team. He’s got the biggest mouth,” said the Australian.
Team Canada’s Chad Laprise was up next and asked for Walsh. “I think he’ll stand with me and it will be fireworks,” he said. Olivier Aubin-Mercier also asked to face Walsh.
Canada’s Elias Theodorou was the first middleweight to meet with White. He asked to be matched up against Tyler Manawaroa. Manawaroa requested a fight with Theodorou.
Canada’s Sheldon Westcott said he wanted to fight Australia’s Vik Grujic. He also requested to be the final fight of the round because he’s healing from a neck injury. “I want to close the season,” he said.
Grujic believes Westcott is the strongest of the middleweights left and asked for that match-up. “I want a tough fight,” he said. “I want to earn it.”
Semifinal Match-ups Revealed
The first welterweight semifinal match-up announced pitted Canadian vs. Canadian. Kajan Johnson was matched up against Chad Laprise. The first middleweight semifinal bout will be Elias Theodorou against Tyler Manawaroa. Team Australia’s Richard Walsh was matched up against Team Canada’s Olivier Aubin-Mercier. Sheldon Westcott was granted his request to fight last. He’ll take on Vik Grujic in the final bout of the season.
The Fight: Chad Laprise vs. Kajan Johnson
Team Canada’s coach Patrick Cote decided not to corner either of the Canadians. The coaching staff was supposed to be split up to accommodate both fighters, but that’s not the way it worked out. Laprise had three people in his corner including two of team Canada’s assistant coaches and one of Team Australia’s. Johnson was left with one corner.
The opening round played out on its feet with Laprise setting the pace. He defended three takedown attempts by Johnson and landed the more significant strikes. He was warned by the referee for grabbling the fence to fend off a takedown attempt by Johnson in the closing seconds of the round.
Johnson landed leg kicks in the early going to the second frame, but Laprise kept the pressure on. In the final minute of the round Laprise stepped in with a straight right hand that landed flush on the jaw of Johnson. Johnson collapsed face-first on the canvas, and Laprise solidified his spot in the welterweight finals.
“I think my jaw is broken,” was the first thing Johnson said as he sat up on the canvas.
“It was the biggest win of my life, but it was over one of my great friends and training partners outside of the show, let alone we were training partners here. We trained at the same gym back home too,” said Laprise following the knockout win. “It’s bitter sweet. I hope that Kajan is great. I hope he’s not seriously injured.”
“Everybody just helped him. No one said anything to me,” said an emotional Johnson following the loss. “It was like I was fighting everybody.”
Johnson has nearly retired from fighting before coming on the show due to an eye injury and fractured face.
“I only got one guy, Fabio (Holanda). He had a corner with two people all screaming. So it was pretty (expletive) for me,” said Johnson. “I just didn’t want to go through this again. I didn’t want my face to break again. I didn’t want to lose the biggest fight of my life,” he said as tears streamed down his face.
“It’s just another test,” he added. “I just don’t know why I’m tested so much.” His jaw was broken in three places.