Georges St-Pierre and the 10 Best Canadian Fighters in the UFC Right Now
Go ahead. Make your Canada jokes. Dazzle us with your Strange Brew lines. Just give me a heads up before you do it, huh? I'd like to be a little farther away first.
Because along with maple syrup and manners and beer and tar sands, Canada's greatest export might be its mixed martial artists.
The world's biggest MMA fan base is well-represented on the sport's biggest stage. UFC welterweight champ Georges St-Pierre, who defends his title this Saturday against Johny Hendricks at UFC 167, immediately comes to mind. But a few beats later, so does his protege and countryman Rory MacDonald, who is quickly closing in on a title shot of his own.
But there are plenty of others, in several weight classes. Here's a rundown of the top 10 active UFC fighters hailing from above the border.
10. Mark Bocek
Record: 11-5 (7-5 UFC)
Mark Bocek isn't going to force the UFC to re-edit its highlight packages anytime soon, or ever. But he is a rock-solid grappler who has dutifully manned the gates of the UFC's lightweight division for more than six years now.
Case in point: His only three defeats in the past five years are contenders Jim Miller and Rafael dos Anjos and former champ Benson Henderson.
9. Jordan Mein
Record: 27-9 (1-1 UFC)
The 24-year-old Jordan Mein finds himself here more because of his value on the futures market than what he's already put in the bank.
The precision striker's bandwagon was sitting-room only after his UFC debut, in which he put the TKO business on grizzled vet Dan Miller in only one round.
Mein suffered a setback in his second UFC bout, losing by TKO to Matt Brown. But Brown also happens to be one of the hottest fighters in the eight-sided cage right now, and Mein's effort in that loss netted him a $50,000 Fight of the Night bonus.
So despite his UFC greenness, there's still plenty to look forward to from the young Albertan.
8. Sean Pierson
Record: 14-6 (4-2 UFC)
Sean Pierson will probably never be a contender. And with that spongy chin of his, his ticket to the Coconut Banger's Ball will probably never materialize.
But what Pierson is is smart and well-rounded. He's also a winner, having produced three decision Ws in his last three contests.
And if you're one of those older dudes, Pierson should make you especially proud. Now 37, the former cop made his UFC debut at 34.
7. John Makdessi
Record: 12-2 (5-2 UFC)
John Makdessi knows a thing or two about prospect hype and what can happen when you don't deliver. After winning his first two in the UFC, "The Bull" then dropped his next two.
But he has rebounded big with three straight victories behind some of the biggest punching power in the lightweight division and one of the best jabs in the entire game.
6. Patrick Cote
Record: 19-8 (6-8 UFC)
The record isn't gaudy. But Patrick Cote is one of Canada's most popular fighters—and the first Canadian coach to participate in one of the international seasons of The Ultimate Fighter—because he signs on the line even when a "W" isn't a sure thing.
Cote's a tough-as-nails striker who has never been knocked out in his 11-year career, despite going up against head hunters with names like Anderson Silva, Tito Ortiz(!), Chris Leben and Cung Le. The UFC knows it can plug him in anytime, anywhere and get a good scrap for their money.
At age 33, Cote recently debuted as a welterweight and took a unanimous-decision win. He's expected to face Australian TUF coaching counterpart Kyle Noke some time next year.
5. Sarah Kaufman
Division: Women's bantamweight
Sarah Kaufman was fighting in MMA long before the lights were bright. Light might not have even been invented yet.
Ah, I kid. She's a springly 28. That just means she's been considered one of the best strikers in women's MMA for almost one-fifth of her life.
Her UFC debut was an inauspicious one, as she dropped a close (and not-universally popular) decision to Jessica Eye. But methinks she'll be back.
4. Alexis Davis
Division: Women's bantamweight
Record: 15-5 (2-0 UFC)
Kaufman may have more name recognition than Alexis Davis, but that could soon change, despite the fact she lost to Kaufman last year under the Strikeforce banner. Reason being is that Davis is now a crisp, clean 2-0 in her UFC career.
The Gracie jiu-jitsu standout likes to hunt for submissions; just ask Shayna Baszler, Hitomi Akamo or any of the six women who have tapped beneath her sword. But she also knows how to swing and how to grind. She might be the fastest-rising star in all of women's MMA.
That inevitable rubber match with countrywoman Kaufman is sure to move the needle and might decide once and for all who the best Canadian import is in women's MMA today.
3. Rory MacDonald
Give it up for "The Canadian Psycho."
But don't even think about asking him a question or expecting him to be, you know, normal with you. Because last Rory MacDonald checked, you do appear decidedly unwashed (not to mention untrained), and as such are simply not worth the oxygen expenditure. Don't worry, MacDonald has already done the math.
So instead, why don't you just watch him destroy and embarrass his opponent and marvel at his physical gifts and the pure seamlessness of his protoype skill set?
Why don't you stand by as he challenges for and inevitably wins the UFC welterweight title whenever the logistics line up and toss rose petals and pocket squares at his feet, considering yourself lucky that you saw the freakiest, "deekiest" welterweight ever do his thing for your violence-loving pleasure?
2. T.J. Grant
Record: 21-5 (8-3 UFC)
I went back and forth on this one. Yes, MacDonald has a higher ceiling and better record on paper. But in the end, I couldn't deny T.J. Grant, the little journeyman who could.
Grant was 3-3 as a UFC welterweight, appearing well on his way to, and perfectly content with, an adequate living as an active UFC fighter, followed by whatever opportunities might come after.
But a funny thing happened on the way to also-ran status. Grant dropped to lightweight. And he hasn't lost since, despite expectations of such at each and every step of the way.
The momentum really hit a high gear after that bloodbath with Evan Dunham, which earned Fight of the Night honors at UFC 152 and was definitely one of the best battles of 2012. A first-round knockout of Matt Wiman followed, then another bonus-winner in the form of a TKO of Gray Maynard.
That last one was a title eliminator. And though an injury derailed Grant's shot at the belt, he was scheduled to go for the gold, which gives him another leg up on MacDonald.
In any event, Grant blue-collared his way to this opportunity by going 5-0 as a lightweight. There was no hype train pushing him along like a tugboat pushes a freight barge. Here's hoping the UFC does the right thing and delivers to Grant what he has earned.
1. Georges St-Pierre
Record: 24-2 (18-2 UFC)
Was there ever any doubt?
The welterweight champ has appeared to lose some of the edge on his competitive fire of late. But it hasn't mattered in the cage, where no one can touch him (almost literally). One of the two or three best MMA wrestlers on the planet is cruising at age 32, though that could change at UFC 167, when he faces a dangerous hitter and highly accomplished wrestler in Hendricks.
Either way, GSP is, until further notice, the very best fighter his home nation has ever produced. And it's not close.
Scott Harris is a writer with Bleacher Report MMA. You are invited to follow him on Twitter. No pressure, though. Either way.