Creating Possible Casts for TUF: Canada vs. Australia
The international expansion of The Ultimate Fighter looks like it will head north of the border, as a team from Canada will compete against a team from Australia. This will not be the first time Australia has competed, as the country recently went head-to-head with the United Kingdom in TUF: The Smashes.
The roles of coach for both teams is a highly coveted spot, as guys like Patrick Cote, Kyle Noke and others are campaigning for spots on the show. The Aussie-Brit version of the show saw coaches George Sotiropoulos and Ross Pearson guide their teams to an entertaining season.
Here are some possible casts we could see if they were to have four men and two weight divisions per team.
Note: The flyweight and bantamweight divisions were not explored, as not enough talent was seen from the Australian side.
Canada: Josh Hill, John Fraser, Jesse Gross, Chris Horodecki
Australia: Gustavo Falciroli, Rob Lisita, Pat Promrangka, Jacob Mahoney
The two top fighters from both teams may be natural bantamweights, but they could definitely fight up for this show. Josh Hill is one of the top prospects in all of Canada, while Gustavo Falciroli is a veteran waiting for his shot to bang in a top organization.
Jacob Mahoney does not have the sexiest record of the bunch, but he is on a four-fight win streak and is just 24 years old. He is the type of guy who would benefit from top-level training, especially at a young age.
Both Rob Lisita and Pat Promrangka are solid featherweights that also could benefit from top-notch instruction. Both have experience in respectable organizations, with Promrangka owning a knockout of TUF veteran Grant Blackler.
As for Team Canada, they have a deeper pool of talent to dip their hands into.
John Fraser's keynote loss came to the aforementioned Hill, but he came back strong with a win over WEC veteran Tyler Toner. The submission ace matches up favorably with most Australia has to offer.
Chris Horodecki is a young guy but has experience in the WEC. He has also spent time in Bellator and other top organizations and could benefit Team Canada with a top-level striker.
Finally, Jesse Gross rounds out Team Canada. All of his losses have come against fighters in major organizations, but his recent defeat of Tristan Johnson earned him a spot on this team.
Canada: Jesse Ronson, Graham Spencer, Kurt Southern, Shane Campbell
Australia: Daniel Hooker, Jai Bradney, Adrian Pang, Damien Brown
Lightweight is another division filled with Canadian talent that the UFC needs to tap.
Graham Spencer and Kurt Southern are both coming off wins over respected Canadian Mukai Maromo (curiously, both via north-south choke). Both are solid submission grapplers with high potential and solid resumes.
Shane Campbell is a well-rounded guy with an exciting style. His only loss was via decision, showing how durable he is.
Jesse Ronson may be the best guy on the team, should they go this route. Ronson is a well-rounded fighter who possesses underrated skills, as showcased in his latest win over veteran Ryan Healy.
As for Team Australia, they could have two long-time veterans of the sport anchoring their team in Adrian Pang and Jai Bradney. Both are highly respected in the Australian circuit as well as in east Asia.
Daniel Hooker is a New Zealander but would be a welcomed addition to the squad. The young 23-year-old is already well-rounded but could use some guidance in developing in his career.
Damien Brown rounds out the squad with a solid submission game. He is a durable guy with a fun style, which could lead to a fun fight on the show.
Canada: Ryan Ford, Sheldon Westcott, Alex Garcia, Dhiego Lima
Australia: Corey Nelson, David Vergers, Ian Bone, James Vainikolo
As with lightweights, we have also seen a class of Australian welterweights grace TUF.
James Vainikolo came on The Smashes as a late replacement but never competed. Therefore, he should get another chance to show his stuff.
Ian Bone and Corey Nelson are both long-time Australian MMA veterans that could use this show to catapult into national spotlight. Nelson is a knockout artist, while Bone is more of a submission fighter, which should make the team more well-rounded.
David Vergers is young in his MMA career, but he owns four finishes in four wins. His most recent was a knockout of TUF veteran Manuel Rodriguez.
Team Canada also has a rich pool of talent at 170.
Both Alex Garcia and Dhiego Lima are transplants from different countries but are top Canadian prospects. Both are finishers of tough opponents, which would make them great for the squad (Lima is Bellator vet Douglas Lima's brother).
Sheldon Westcott is a well-rounded fighter with wins over notables Thomas Denny and Nic Herron-Webb. His only career loss came in his pro debut, so it's obvious he is continually growing in this sport.
Finally, assuming he is not completely married to Bellator, Ryan Ford would be the anchor of this team. Ford is a nasty striker who has drastically improved his ground game with Tristar Gym.
Canada: Luke Harris, Vaughn Anderson, Elias Theodorou, Advin Omic
Australia: Steven Kennedy, Daniel Digby, Daniel Kelly, Semir Celikovic
Another weight class, another loaded pile of talent that Canada can take advantage of.
Both Advin Omic and Vaughn Anderson are transplants in some way but are still Canadian (Omic is of Bosnian descent, Anderson resides in China).
Elias Theodorou is a young kid, but he holds an undefeated record. His latest win came over respected Canadian fighter Mike Kent, whom he tapped with strikes.
Luke Harris is the crowning piece of the team. Harris is an MFC veteran with big wins over UFC vet Edwin Dewees and Jason Zentgraf.
As for Australia, Steven Kennedy is probably the best of the bunch. He is an 18-fight veteran with a high finishing rate and respectable resume.
Daniel Kelly and Semir Celikovic are both young in their MMA careers, but they have shown to be exciting and formidable. Each could go from unknown to spotlighted star on this show.
Finally, Daniel Digby would be on loan from New Zealand, but he brings great experience and skill to the team. He is a submission grappler with an exciting style that could give Team Australia a contender.
Canada: Steve Bosse, Zach Blaber, Peter Nolan, Tim Chemelli
Australia: Priscus Fogagnolo, Joe Muir, Brandon Ropati, Sam Brown
Canada continues to host a deep well of talent.
The best of the bunch would likely be Steve Bosse, a guy I have been calling for the UFC to sign for some time. He is a knockout artist with the personality to make the show interesting.
Tim Chemelli and Zach Blaber are both knockout artists that would also make this squad intimidating. Combined, they own 11 career knockout victories.
Peter Nolan would be the grappler of the team, owning all of his wins via submission. He would round out the team well, as the rest of the guys are strikers first.
Australia has a few solid prospects of their own.
Priscus Fogagnolo and Joe Muir are both solid knockout artists that have rounded out their respective games. Both are potentially solid prospects that could prosper on the show.
Brandon Ropati is from New Zealand but could be the dark horse of the team. He is yet to lose a pro fight and has only gone to decision twice.
Add Sam Brown to the mix, and Australia would be a dangerous squad. He is exciting, rugged and experienced.
Canada: Smealinho Rama, Mike Hackert, Ryan Fortin, Paul Cheng
Australia: Peter Graham, Jim Yorke, Felise Leniu, Ben Kelleher
Canada has one of the best heavyweight prospects in the sport in Smealinho Rama. The undefeated Rama is 6-0, with all wins coming via knockout or submission.
Mike Hackert owns two notable victories against UFC vet Tim Hague. Previous to that, he was the top Canadian heavyweight over Rama, whom he took a loss to.
As for Ryan Fortin and Paul Cheng. they are both solid guys to round out the team. Fortin has good experience, while Cheng looks like a solid prospect.
Heavyweight may be the weight class that Australia has the biggest advantage over Canada in terms of talent.
The team is full of knockout artists, as the four combined have accumulated 26 career knockout wins. Their top two guys would be kickboxer Peter Graham and Jim Yorke (New Zealander).
Felise Leniu and Ben Kelleher would always be one punch away from winning a fight. All in all, their squad would be dangerous and intimidating.