GOLD COAST, Australia — In an ideal world, after concluding an Australia-versus-U.K. themed edition of the hit reality series The Ultimate Fighter, dubbed “The Smashes,” we would have a two Australians representing the green and gold and two British fighters with their union jack flag wrapped around their back battling for welterweight and lightweight contracts, but that has not been the case.
In fact, Robert Whittaker is the lone Australian vying for an Ultimate Fighter title this weekend when he meets soft-spoken Brit Brad Scott. As a result, Colin Fletcher and Norman Parke, two friends with an incredibly strong bond that grew during their six weeks locked in Australia, are the two top seeds of the 155-pound cast so for a potential fifteen minutes that friendship is put on the backburner.
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Fletcher and Parke were two of the more colorful cast members in recent memory. Parke, the fighter from Northern Ireland that was representing Team U.K. lit up screens with his thick accent and outgoing personality that soon got on the nerves of his Australian counterparts.
And well, Fletcher was impossible to miss. The self-proclaimed “Freakshow” with his tiny hat and giant bow tie who embraces the class clown spot like no other has garnered him a cult following that will only grow if he earns a six-figure deal with the UFC this weekend.
“If being around people makes them happy then I’m ecstatic, I like to be nice to people and put a smile on their face,” Fletcher told Sportsnet.ca. “I often do things just to make people laugh and I’ve always been that way so I’m glad people like it.”
On the series both men made it clear that they didn’t want to step into the eight-sided cage unless it was in the finals for the contract with the UFC. They got their wish.
“We were like brothers in the house. I mean, you don’t understand the connection we had there but Colin is a wonderful fella and underneath the clown and the hats and stuff there’s a true gentleman,” Parke stated with a large grin at Thursday’s open workouts. “I have the utmost respect for Colin and he has for me too so for fifteen minutes none of it matters and we’ll have a great fight for the fans.”
As you probably expect, his fellow countryman co-signed on the idea of forgetting about their friendship and thrilling the thousands of partisan Queensland fans at the Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre.
“I’m a fighter,” Fletched exclaimed. “I’ve grown up fighting my cousins and that, so it’s a lifestyle really. There won’t be a bad feeling one minute before or one minute after the fight but when we’re in there we’ll be bitter enemies.”
“We spoke of fighting in the finals since day one and it’s mixed emotions now but when I’m prepared to get in there it’ll be a completely different story.”
Ross Pearson, the coach of the eight welterweight and lightweights representing the United Kingdom on this past season of the reality series has been a great mentor for these prospects and this weekend, one of their lives is going to take a huge turn for the better.
Written by Justin Faux for Sportsnet.ca.
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