There are many small mixed martial arts promotions in Canada who claim to carry different Canadian titles and promotional champions. Fans north of the border, however, are well aware that despite the names fighting hard and holding belts in some of these smaller shows, the best fighters in our country are all under the UFC banner.
With the incredible growth of the UFC in recent years, more of Canada's best fighters are gaining the opportunity to strut their stuff in the world's top promotion.
UFC 145 in Atlanta will hold one of, if not the biggest and most relevant Canadian vs Canadian fight that the promotion has ever had in Mark Bocek vs John Alessio. Bocek has long been considered the best lightweight in Canada and Alessio was signed on as a late replacement only a few weeks ago. The veteran fighter has recently moved down from the 170-pound division and many feel that he and not Bocek is the new Canadian lightweight No. 1.
With all due respect and apologies to other Canadian UFC lightweight's Sam Stout and TJ Grant, the Bocek-Alessio fight will virtually crown an undisputed Canadian lightweight champion for the first time in the sport's history. Not a paper champion. No real belt is up for grabs, but fans north of the border know exactly what is at stake in this fight.
The growth of the UFC is leaning towards opportunities for more of these types of nationally relevant fights. Canada has enough top level talent under the UFC banner to make these exciting fights happen and sort out the landscape that has long been debated up here.
Next up in 2013, Georges St-Pierre vs Rory MacDonald for the Canadian and World welterweight title. This one is quite a long shot as I know these two fighters are team and training mates, but it seems inevitable that the debate on who is the better of the two is in the very near future.
Other possible Canadian title match ups in the UFC:
Bantamweight: #1 Ivan Menjivar vs. #2 Yves Jabouin (#3 Nick Denis, #4 Mitch Gagnon)
Featherweight: #1 Mark Hominick vs #2 Antonio Carvalho
Middleweight: #1 Nick Ring vs #2 Jason MacDonald (#3 Patrick Cote)
Light Heavyweight: #1 Krzysztof Soszynski vs #2 Ryan Jimmo
Dwight Wakabayashi is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report MMA, MMA Editor at CKSN.ca and guest blogger for Sportsnet.ca.