The Best Canadian MMA Fighters Not Named GSP
Last night at the Bell Center in Montreal, several Canadians were given an opportunity to showcase their MMA skills on the world's most prestigious stage.
Canada has embraced the fledgling sport emphatically and is producing many excellent fighters. The most famous one of all is the undisputed welterweight champion of the world, GSP.
While Top 10 lists are inherently subjective and lack empirical significance, here is a list of 16 fighters from Canada that have earned recognition and deserve accolades for their evolution and quality performances.
Please note these arbitrary rankings do not solely represent career achievements, rather they are a reflection of today's MMA climate and are based on the athletes' recent performances, upside and momentum. It is a snapshot taken today of which fighters are best aligned to make a run at being the next great Canadian champion .
15) Sam Stout
At only 28-years-old, the London, Ontario star has already amassed enough highlights to retire with an amazingly successful career. He has been a legitimate stalwart in the lightweight division for nearly a decade, fighting the best of the 155-pound division.
"Hands of Stone" has five Fight of the Night honours on his resume. He won two of the three legendary bouts in the Spencer Fisher trilogy and also holds wins over Yves Edwards and Joe Lauzon. He displayed an improving grappling game in his most recent win over Fisher that, combined with his proficient and lethal striking, make him a dangerous opponent for anyone at 155.
Sam's inability to put together a three-fight win streak has kept him from earning a title shot, but with his talent and experience, Stout has the potential to put together a run to give him a crack at the championship.
Should he never get a taste of gold, it will not detract from the fact that he fought the best and always proved himself competitive.
14) Joe Doerksen
"El Dirte" has compiled a very impressive 47-16 career record while competing in countless organizations. He is frequently invited to compete in the UFC, and although he lost three fights in a row in his last stint with the flagship organization, he is currently on a two-fight win streak and is always a viable option for the famous promotion.
At 35-years-old, there is no doubt that there is another run remaining in the tank of the ever-improving veteran. His comeback win over Tom Lawlor at UFC 113 was an epic victory that displayed his resiliency and stoicism.
Do not be surprised to see the BJJ black belt back in the UFC again, showing his wide breadth of skills.
13) Patrick Cote
After losing three consecutive bouts in the UFC and subsequently being released, the proud French-Canadian has won five of his last six bouts.
Although his DQ win over Sakara is not one to highlight, it might help to compensate for the hard losses he had against Anderson Silva and Alan Belcher.
In the Silva fight for the championship, his knee blew out, and he had to quit. Against Belcher, it appeared that a controversial head spike from a power-bomb might have forced Cote to succumb to a RNC.
Regardless, he had his moments in the Sakara fight and looked good in his loss to Cung Le.
"The Predator" is currently fighting very well and has another opportunity to hunt in the ocean of talent that is the UFC.
12) Josh Hill
Josh Hill is currently 9-0 and has been dominating competition in Canada's the Score Fighting Series.
He is not far from being invited to compete in the UFC and with a few submission wins or knockouts, the call will come sooner than later.
Meanwhile, fans are enjoying the chance to observe his growth as a complete fighter. Hill is composed and well-rounded thus making him one of the best blue-ship prospects in the land. The 135-pound division will soon be very well aware of what this rising 25-year-old star can achieve.
11) Alex Ricci
Ricci is another star from the Score Fighting Series who is turning heads and making people take notice of the prodigious talent emanating from this Canadian organization.
Although he lost his last fight, he did so in epic fashion. Ricci has immaculate Muay Thai striking and is working diligently to continue to improve his skills in all areas of MMA. It is a matter of when and not if for his UFC debut.
At 5-1 with 5 knockouts, he fits the exact mold of exciting performers that the UFC is looking for in fresh talent.
10) John Makdessi
The man with the electric KO finishes snapped a two-fight losing streak and saved his job with an impressive win over lightweight icon Sam Stout at UFC 154.
Although he still has areas in which to improve, wrestling and submissions, the Shotokan black belt (with amazing TKD-style kicks) will always be a legitimate threat to any opponent with his video game arsenal of strikes.His win at UFC 129 over Kyle Watson is evidence of that.
Makdessi, currently with Tristar, is in a position to develop a holistic game that will enhance his competitiveness against any and all comers at 155.
9) Ryan Ford
Ford is on a three-fight win streak with the last two successes coming at Bellator. "The Real Deal" carries an impressive record of 19-4, and the fact that only two of his nineteen wins have come from the hands of the judges enhances his mystique dramatically.
His fights are fast and exciting, and this is the time for the 30-year-old to make his run at international notoriety. Ford is as intelligent outside the ring as he is dangerous inside.
He has made himself a very marketable commodity on the precipice of becoming a crowd favourite on a national and international level. He has challenged for titles in the past, and with his improved submission defense and greater exposure on the Bellator promotion, Ford could prove to be another Canadian champ.
8) Jesse Ronson
Ronson recently enjoyed a watershed moment in his victory over an up-and-coming Alex Ricci. He is now on a six-fight win streak, and there is a euphoric momentum behind the 26-year-old lightweight.
His next bout is against Ryan Healy on November 23rd. "The Body Snatcher" will be that much closer to a call from Joe Silva with another impressive win.
Regardless of the outcome, his talent and potential are undeniable, and the future is very bright for this talent from the deep Adrenaline Training team.
7) Mitch Gagnon
At UFC 152, Gagnon electrified the crowd with a beautiful counter to a lazy Walel Watson superman punch. In just 69 seconds, he had his first UFC win.
Mitch is now 1-1 in the UFC, his lone loss was the winner of Fight of the Night, and his overall record in MMA is 11-2.
Gagnon is looking to make a name for himself in the 135 division by testing his dynamic striking against the next level in competition as he seeks to move up the short bantamweight ladder.
7B) TJ Grant
TJ Grant put an exclamation point on his upset win over Evan Dunham at UFC 152 by delivering a performance worthy of being a fight of the year candidate. That marked his third consecutive win and his forth of his last five fights. The fact that Johny Hendricks is now the number one contender and TJ held his own against him in a MD loss also speaks to Grant's ability to contend with any welterweight. His fights are exciting and he shows constant improvement thus cementing his status as a legitimate contender to become the next great Canadian champion. Should he continue on this pace, he might become the second most famous person to ever come from Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia.
6) Antonio Carvalho
There are no points for classiness but if there were, Carvalho would be weighed down with championship belts.
Riding a two-fight win streak in the UFC and winning five of his last six make Carvalho a name worth knowing.
His game is completely clean. His striking is pure and his grappling crisp. The 145 pound division must now recognize that the skilled technician is a threat to anyone.
At 33-years-old and the 15-5 veteran of more than a decade of pro fighting experience, the time is now to push for a title run.The apex of his career is fast approaching and expect 2013 to be the year where Antonio forges his path to Octagon glory.
5) Mark Hominick
Mark, for obvious reasons, has not been himself in the Octagon as of late. His four consecutive losses speak to that.
At 30-years-old, there is still a lot of fight in the pride of Thamesford.
His skill set and work ethic command his place on this list despite his recent setbacks. There is no person more likely to regain their footing than this proud and humble warrior. "The Machine" has earned our respect and does not deserve to be forgotten when he needs support the most. The fact that he gave Aldo all he could handle in their striking exchanges undeniably demonstrates how elite of a fighter the 145-pound star is.
The rebound is coming, and it will reverberate vociferously throughout the division.
4) Sean Pierson
Pierson has won two in a row and eight of his last ten.
Those two losses were against top welterweight contenders (Kim and Ellenberger) in which there is no shame in losing.
His best UFC win was a classic as he defeated Matt Riddle in a Gatti-Ward-esque clash at UFC 124.
At 36 years of age, Sean is still in the prime of his career, and with his experience, proven heart, all around skill set and his intelligence, expect him to stamp his legacy as a Canadian great in the near future. Sean has proven he can challenge the best in the division and will walk away from the game with a few more big wins and excellent performances in the process.
3a) Mark Bocek
Mark suffered a disappointing loss at UFC 154 against Rafael Dos Anjos. A win would have solidified his position as one of the premier lightweights in the world. This loss temporarily relegated the grappling star to a gatekeeper role as opposed to an immediate title contender.
At 11-5 with seven UFC wins, two of Mark's losses were to Edgar and Henderson, and his loss to Miller in New Jersey was a prime example of a hometown robbery.
Bocek remains one of Canada's greatest fighters and is indisputably a top fighter in the sport's deepest division. Few people on the planet have dedicated themselves so assiduously to the gentle art as Mark and as a result, he is able to submit anyone on the planet. His accomplishments at ADCC make him one of Canada's most accomplished grapplers and hopefully the BJJ blackbelt will retool and claw his way to the top.
He will need to conquer some marquee names to do so and indeed has proven that he has the determination and talent to do so.
3b) Ryan Jimmo
How many fighters have won 17 consecutive fights? How many people have won knockout of the night in their UFC debut? The 30 year old, former MFC champ, Ryan Jimmo has. Other than Hector Lombard and Renan Barao, no other fighter entered the UFC with such momentum and while neither of the aforementioned really impressed anyone, Jimmo tied a record for fastest KO in the promotion's history. He needs but a few more wins against some of the many high profile names in 205 to make his claim for a title shot. A win over Perosh is nice but does not equate to title contention. However, Jimmo is on the fast track to a showdown with Jon Jones.
2a) Ivan Menjivar
Menjivar has won four of his last five UFC bouts and is an experienced vet with over a decade as a pro.
Boasting an impressive record of 25-9, the Salvadorian-born fighter is not lacking in any facet of the game. His few losses have come against some of the best (GSP, Faber, Serra) and now that he is competing at bantamweight, he will be facing opponents without giving up a significant size advantage.
Yes, his speed, agility and athleticism allowed him to enjoy success in the heavier categories, but now he is able to win by testing similar-sized opponents with his highly developed skills and technique.
The charismatic, exciting and talented fighter from the Tristar stable has the opportunity to make a sincere challenge for top contender status at 135.
2b) Jordan Mein
This prodigy has won seven of his last eight bouts, and the "loss" was a split decision against Tyron Woodley in which the judges awarded the bout to the wrestler in top position instead of recognizing guard play and submission attempts.
Jordan has the skills and pedigree to become a dominant champion. There are absolutely no holes in his game whatsoever. He is built and made for this and always delivers.
Currently, he is competing in Strikeforce one of Canada's best hopes to become a champion. His next bout will be—on loan—to the Score Fighting Series against UFC vet Forrest Petz on November 23rd.
Petz, most likely, will be one of many UFC vets bested by the "Young Gun" from Lethbridge. At 23 years of age but with 33 pro fights, Jordan will be a star in title contention for a long time.
1) Rory MacDonald
He is the future and the present.
Rory is also 23 and has an impressive 13-1 record. He infamously lost to Carlos Condit after dominating the entire fight with only seven seconds remaining.
His biggest opportunity to showcase his incredible skill will come on December 8th against legend BJ Penn. Not only will he win, he will dominate.
2013 should bring more tests and bigger names to give him the opportunity to prove his worth and legitimacy as the one to replace GSP on the throne.
Today, he is arguably the greatest fighter in Canada outside of his teammate, GSP. It is more probable than not that he will beget comparisons within the year that will engender debate as to who the best Canadian really is. For now, he has to continue his amazing success to remain as the king of GSP's shadow.
Ares' fans have a great deal to be happy for as his future is bright, and while his namesake was often cast as folly, this Ares will dominate as a true god of war!