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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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Fight Announcements

Stipe Miocic vs. Francis Ngannou Official for UFC 220

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UFC 220 in Boston, Massachusetts has its main event. Stipe Miocic (17-2) will put his belt on the line for the third time against rising heavyweight star, Francis Ngannou (11-1)

Rumors surrounded the match-up for UFC 220 after Ngannou’s first round knockout over Alistair Overeem, at UFC 218. The Cameroonian heavyweight called for the fight himself. In his octagon interview proceeding his most recent victory, Ngannou stated:

“I’m feeling good… I’m on my way to a title shot”.

The heavy handed Ngannou has finished all of his opponents in all of his six UFC bouts. A streak which includes a kimura submission over Anthony Hamilton and a TKO victory against former UFC heavyweight champion, Andrei Arlovski. Overall, he holds a ten fight win streak. His only defeat came by way of unanimous decision to Zoumana Cisse, in his second professional MMA fight.

If victorious, Ngannou would become the first African-born champion in UFC history.

Not to be diminished, Stipe Miocic rides his a streak of his own into the beantown match-up. Five consecutive wins, five knockouts and the past four of which, ended in the first round. A victory in Boston for the champ would make him the longest reigning heavyweight champion in UFC history. Currently, Miocic is one of three heavyweights, in the promotions entirety, whom has successfully defended the belt twice.

UFC 220 will be held at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts on January 20th, 2018. The pay-per-view (PPV) card will also feature light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier, as he faces challenger Volkan “No Time” Oezdemir.

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Events

Ladies Fight Night 7: “Double Trouble” Preview

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Polish women’s federation Ladies Fight Night is going to celebrate their second birthday this year on the 15th to 17th of December. Two days, two events with a lot of great bouts.

LFN in Poland is being titled the new Invicta FC. The Polish owners created this federation to give European women a chance to fight on a big platform.

Hosting their first ever event in December 2015, LFN will hold two great cards next week, that will feature women who have fought under many prestigious promotions, such as the UFC, Invicta, Bellator, Glory, and Kunlun.

Two days of fantastic fights, intensified by a double dose of sports impressions. The name is not accidental, LFN 7 / LFN 8 combines two events, during which the best Polish fighters will be shown, as well as the best fighters from Europe (including France, Sweden, Italy, the Czech Republic and Romania)

The stakes are high, and we are electrified by the clashes between warriors such as Żaneta Cieśla vs Silvia La Notte and Patricia Axling vs. Cindy Silvestri. Mainly due to their vastness of their experience in the cage.

In the fight of the evening, the talented Romanian Cristina Stanciu will face Magdaléna Šormovádo. Stanciu fought twice in the UFC, but she was unfortunately cut from the promotion after suffering consecutive losses to Cortney Casey and Maryna Moroz.

Judyta Rymarzak vs Marta Waliczek is an amazing fight between two experienced kickboxers. Both making their pro MMA debuts on the night, we will witness a one-of-a-kind duel between two kickboxing perfectionists, as they look to transcend their skills into the MMA world.

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Invicta

Mackenzie Dern victorious in Invicta debut 

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Late Friday night, Mackenzie Dern (5-0, 1-0 Invicta FC) won her co-main event booking, defeating Kaline Medieros (8-6, 2-2 Invicta FC), at Invicta FC 26: Maia vs. Niedzwiedz, via submission (armbar) with only fifteen seconds remaining in the fight.

Much of the fight was controlled by Dern. The heralded prospect displayed her power, visibly damaging her opponent with multiple overhand rights. Striking is an under-developed aspect of her attack, only when compared to the twenty-four-year-olds black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Above all, she showed a progression of her striking skills. Dern looked to be bigger and physically stronger than her veteran opponent. She utilized forward pressure and found the proper timing for her overhand right throughout.

The veteran Medeiros showed her toughness throughout the fight. She defended and scrambled out of some bad positions during the grappling exchanges. Ultimately, she tapped when caught in a deeply planted armbar.  While Medeiros did earn a few hard trip takedowns, it factored minimally in the result as she refused to follow Dern to the mat. The Boston native suffered her second straight loss, Friday night. Her first was to, former Invicta strawweight champion, Angela Hill.

Dern made her professional debut in July of 2016 with Legacy Fighting Alliance (previously: Legacy Fighting Championship). In her debut, she defeated Kenia Rosas by unanimous decision. The Phoenix-born fighter won her next three bouts. Before her MMA career began, Dern won the ADCC (Abu Dhabi Combat Club) championship at 60 kg. She was the first American born female to become champion at the weight. Her grappling resume boasts many more incredible accomplishments. Justifiably, a growing spotlight now hangs over her, her skills, and potential in the sport of MMA.

Elsewhere on the Invicta 26 card, Jennifer Maia defeated Agnieszka Niedzweidz by unanimous decision. Maia retained her Invicta flyweight belt, defending it for the second time. Invicta FC 26: Maia vs. Niedzweidz, took place at the Scottish Rite Temple in Kansas City, Missouri.

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