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MMA Latest News’ Top 5 weekly Prospects: Canada

Iain MacMillan

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In this weeks edition of “MMA Latest News’ Top 5 Prospects”, we are taking a look at the great white north: Canada. While it may not be the hot bed that places like the U.S. and Brazil, Canadians have always had an impact on the MMA scene since the early days. GSP, Carlos Newton, David Loiseau are some of the great Canadian MMA pioneers, just to name a few.

Since there are so many young and talented Canadian fighters both in and outside the UFC, I have broken it down into top 5 prospects already signed by the UFC, and top 5 prospects who are not currently signed by the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

Top 5 Outside the UFC:

1. Hakeem Dawodu

Record: 4-0
Fighting out of: Champions Creed MMA
Promotion: WSOF
Last Fight: WSOF 18 vs. Tristan Johnson (Won via TKO)
Next Fight: WSOF 21 vs. Chuka Willis

While many people may believe that Dawodu is still to unproven to be on the top of this list, I believe the young 23 year old fighter from Calgary, Alberta has the skill and talent to be Canada’s next MMA Super Star. Dawodu has (T)KO’d all 4 of his opponents, with each of his contests taking place with the WSOF.

His combination of freakish athleticism and power, as well as his use of effective counter-punching, makes this fighter one intimidating opponent. His rise in the MMA ranks will continue this friday as he, along with the next two men on this list, will compete on this Fridays WSOF card that takes places in his home province of Alberta.

2) Smealinho Rama

Record: 9-1
Fighting out of: Goldenstars boxing / Goncalves BJJ Team
Promotion: WSOF
Last Fight: WSOF 14 vs. Derrick Mehman (win via TKO)
Next Fight: WSOF 21 vs. Blagoi Ivanov

The man who is considered by many to be Canada’s top heavyweight has only lost once so far in his young career, and it was to current UFC fighter Anthony Hamilton. He has proven that he’s got a well balanced attack, as he has 5 wins by (T)KO and 3 by Submission.

He has won both of his bouts so far in the WSOF, and he hopes to continue that trend as he takes on Blagoi Ivanov (11-1) at WSOF 21 on Friday. In a UFC heavyweight division that is starving for young talent, don’t be surprised if you see this young 23 year fighting inside the octagon sometime soon.

3) Chris Horodecki

Record: 21-5-1 1NC
Fighting out of: Adrenaline MMA
Promotion: WSOF
Last Fight: WSOF 14 vs. Luis Huete (Win via UD)
Next Fight: WSOF 21 vs. Lance Palmer

Horodecki is an experienced fighter (28 fights), but he is also relatively young at only 27 years old. After defeating Luis Huete in his WSOF debut, Horodecki has earned himself a world title fight vs. Lance Palmer for the promotions featherweight strap. If he can pull off the upset over Palmer, Horodecki will launch himself near the top of the list of fighters who belong in the UFC.
Horodecki has been around the block, having fights in Bellator as well as WEC. He has both submission skills and the ability to knock you out. His fight this Friday vs. Lance Palmer will be the biggest of his career.

4) Jeremy Kennedy

Record: 7-0
Fighting out of: Team Quest Thailand
Promotion: Battlefield Fight League
Last Fight: BFL 34 vs. Mario Pereira (Win via UD)
Next Fight: N/A

This young 22 year old has had an impressive start to his MMA career, with 7 wins and no losses. He has only gone the distance twice in his career, while boasting 3 KO/TKO’s, as well as 2 Submissions. He is the featherweight champ with Battlefield Fight League, which he has been fighting in since his days as an amateur.

A little over a year ago, Kennedy responded to a facebook ad which sent him to the other side of the world to train MMA in Thailand. While training and learning there, he earned three of his wins before returning to Canada. He spent around a year in the Asian country, and contributes a lot of his current success to his time spent there. With the talent, work ethic, and experience this fighter has, he’s definitely earned his spot as one of Canada’s top MMA prospects.

5) Josh Hill

Record: 11-1
Fighting out of: House of Champions
Promotion: Global Warriors FC
Last Fight: GWFC vs. Josh Rettinghouse (Win via SUB)
Next Fight: N/A

Coming off a huge submission win just a few days ago (May 30th) vs. Josh Rettinghouse, this 28 year old fighter is better than ever. Hill lost a unanimous decision to Marlon Moraes for the 135 pound WSOF strap in February, but has learned from the experience as he showcased tremendous growth vs. Rettinghouse as a result of it.

The Hamilton, Ontario native has 5 finishes on his record (3 T/KO’s, 2 Submissions). He has tremendous talent and could be a nice addition to the UFC’s 135 pound division in the very near future.

Top 5 Inside the UFC:

1) Elias Theodorou

Record: 11-0
Fighting out of: Mecha MMA
Last Fight: Win vs. Roger Narvaez (TKO)
Next Fight: N/A

Since winning the Middleweight division of TUF: Nations, Theodorou has continued to solidify himself as Canada’s top young prospect. At 27 years old, he is undefeated while finishing 2 of his 3 UFC opponents via TKO. His athleticism may be his most defining quality, as he’s able to combine all aspects of Mixed Martial Arts with ease, and utilizes every skill he has inside the octagon.

The Mississauga, Ontario native is the former ECC Middleweight Champ, as well as the former NAAFS middleweight Champ. If he continues his rise through the ranks in the UFC, he may be the first Canadian to get a shot at the Middleweight title since Patrick Cote fought Anderson Silva back in 2008.

2) Chad Laprise

Record: 10-0
Fighting out of: Adrenaline Training Center
Last Fight: vs. Bryan Barberena (Win via UD)
Next Fight: N/A

Laprise had an impressive showing on the TUF: Nations, as he won the welterweight tournament while also securing bonuses for Fight of the Season as well as Performance of the Season. He is undefefated with a 10-0 record, which includes 4 T/KO’s and 1 Submission. He has returned to lightweight since competing as a Welterweight for the duration of TUF.

Laprise won his first Fight of the Night bonus in his latest bout as he defeated Bryan Barberena via Unanimous Decision at UFC 186 in Montreal this past April. He also has two wins with Bellator, as he fought for the promotion twice back in 2012.

3) Mitch Gagnon

Record: 12-3
Fighting out of: Team Shredder
Last Fight: vs. Renan Barao (Loss via SUB)
Next Fight: N/A

Gagnon is the fighter with the most UFC experience on his list, as he has already fought against one of the best bantamweight fighters in the world, Renan Barao. While many people didn’t give Gagnon much of a chance, he looked impressive during the first couple of rounds vs. Barao, but the Brazilian heat took a hold of him as he eventually succumbed to an arm triangle slapped on by the former champ.

Gagnon is 4-2 in the UFC with three of those wins coming via Submission. With a little bit more experience and a couple more wins, look for Gagnon to be right back near the top of the UFC’s bantamweight division. If he can build on his fight vs. Barao and continue to improve, an eventual title shot may not be completely out of the question for this Sudbury, Ontario born fighter.

4) Olivier Aubin-Mercier


Record: 6-1
Fighting out of: Tristar
Last Fight: vs. David Michaud (WIN via SUB)
Next Fight: N/A

After losing via Split Decision to Chad Laprise in the welterweight final of TUF nations, Olivier Aubin-Mercier has looked nothing but impressive. He returned to lightweight after being a welterweight throughout TUF, and received performance of the night for his beautifully executed inverted triangle kimura vs. Jake Lindsey at UFC Fight Night: Macdonald vs. Saffiedine.

This 26 year old is an aggressive BJJ artist, with all 6 of his professional wins coming via submission. He also has his black belt in Judo. While he is still young and in need of more experience inside the octagon, he is set up perfectly to be one of Canada’s top prospects as he continues to grow while being apart of the top gym in the country; Tristar.

5) Jason Saggo

Record: 10-2
Fighting out of: Wulfrun MMA
Last Fight: vs. Paul Felder (LOSS via Split Decision)
Next Fight: N/A

If this man had a little better luck with the judges, he may very well be at the top of this list. The 29 year old from Bolton, Ontario has only two losses on his record, with both of them coming via split decision. His UFC debut was as impressive as any other as he TKO’d Josh Shockley at UFC 174.

Saggo is a finisher with an aggressive submission game, as all 10 of his wins came inside the distance (2 T/KO’s, 8 SUB’s). With more fights coming the UFC, comes more opportunities to showcase his talents. Look for him to build on his success and soon become one of Canada’s top fighters at 155 pounds.

Thus concludes our list of the Top 5 MMA prospects in Canda, both inside and outside the UFC. Join us next week as I take you through the top young phenoms that the German MMA scene has to offer.

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Ovince Saint Preux Steps in to Face Corey Anderson at UFC 217

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UFC 217 just got even more interesting. Earlier this week, Patrick Cummins pulled out of his light heavyweight matchup with Corey Anderson due to a Staph infection. Corey “Overtime” Anderson was not happy with his opponents decision, even calling out his opponent on Instagram asking how Cummins could, “call it quits so far from fight night”.

The UFC left Anderson on the card, and he found an opponent through the magic of Twitter. Ovince Saint Preux tweeted out directly to Anderson stating:

It didn’t take long for Anderson to respond agreeing to the fight, tagging Mick Maynard and Dana White in his response.

Only a few short hours later, the fight announcement came from the official UFC twitter account.

 

This top 10 Light Heavyweight matchup should add to an already amazing card coming in November at Madison Square Garden. Saint Preux is coming off of back to back wins both due to the very rare von flue choke, he finds himself ranked #7th in the latest edition of the 205-pound rankings. Corey “Overtime” Anderson is 4-2 in his last 6 fights, but is coming off a brutal first round knockout loss to Jimi Manuwa in March.

With such a exciting fight added to this card, what do you see happening November 4th?  Will Corey Anderson bounce back and look to jump into the top 5 of the rankings, or will Ovince Saint Preux go for a third straight von flue choke? Let us know.

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*Watch* Bellator 185 Weigh in: Live Stream, Results

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Watch the live weigh-ins for Bellator 185 here.

Gegard Mousasi takes on Alexander Slemenko live this Friday night October 20th at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville CT. This is the first appearance for Mousasi in the Bellator cage as he looks to secure a title shot with a win over the very tough former Bellator champion Slemenko. Joining these men of the main card will be a pair of welterweights as Neiman Gracie from the famous Gracie BJJ family takes on Zak Bucia in the co-main event.

Full Weigh-in Results: (Updated in real time)

Main Card:

Gegard Mousasi (185) vs. Alexander Shlemenko (186)
Neiman Gracie (170.5) vs. Zak Bucia (170)
Heather Hardy (126) vs. Kristina Williams (126)
Ryan Quinn (155.5) vs. Marcus Surin (155)
Ana Julaton (125.5) vs. Lisa Blaine (122)

Preliminary Card:

Jordan Young (200) vs. Alec Hooben (194)
Costello van Steenis (185) vs. Steve Skrzat (186)
Vinicius de Jesus (170) vs. Joaquin Buckley (171)
John Beneduce (154.5) vs. Dean Hancock (155)
Timothy Wheeler (144) vs. Pete Rogers (144)
Don Shainis (150) vs. Matthew Denning (149)
Frank Sforza (149) vs. Vovka Clay (150)
Kevin Carrier (156) vs. Jose Antonio Perez (153)
John Lopez (126) vs. Billy Giovanella (125)

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Bellator 185 Fight to Watch: Heather Hardy vs. Kristina Williams

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Heather Hardy will compete in MMA for the second time at Bellator 185 on Friday night, as she faces Kristina Williams in a strawweight contest. The fight takes place on the main card at the Mohican Sun Arena in Connecticut.

Potentially, what Bellator have in Heather ‘The Heat’ Hardy is a major draw that they can build their 125 pound division around. While relatively new to the organisation she is fast becoming one of the more popular names on the roster. Her career is in the early stages, but many have already started to draw comparisons with former boxer turned MMA star, Holly Holm. Holm’s UFC success partly inspired the native New Yorker to make the switch from boxing.

Hardy is already an established world champion in the land of the ‘sweet science’, holding a 21 fight undefeated professional record. She made her MMA debut in June this year with a victory over Alice Yauger, at Bellator 180. At 35, Hardy is a late starter in the sport, but proved at Madison Square Garden against the credible Yauger that she has a bright future.

Hardy’s first outing in the cage was disciplined and composed. Despite a slow start in round one, Hardy grew in confidence as the fight progressed and her cardio never faltered. She mixed in plenty of kicks that complimented her boxing and looked at ease in the clinch, even defending a couple of takedown attempts in the process.

Despite looking on course for a decision win, Hardy forced the TKO stoppage with just thirteen seconds remaining in round three. Even a large cut that required seven stitches from an accidental head clash could not deny her victory.

Hardy was fighting an experienced professional, competing for the tenth time in MMA, which makes the win over Yauger more impressive. However, her upcoming opponent Kristina Williams will be making her professional debut.

There is little known about Williams except that she is 3-0 at amateur level. One of those wins came by way of submission so there may well be a threat to Hardy if the fight goes to the ground. More importantly for Williams is how she copes on the big stage against a popular opponent, who is more familiar competing in high pressure combat situations. If Williams can produce an upset it will be a huge boost in her young career.

But in all honesty, this fight is about Hardy. It’s about getting the win and gaining valuable experience. The boxing career is on hold while MMA takes centre stage. Beating Williams will mean she likely continues fighting inside a cage rather than a boxing ring.

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