With Cole Smith recently making his UFC debut at UFC Ottawa, it seemed like the perfect time to have a look at who could be next to earn their ticket to the big show from Western Canada.
You will see two lists below; the first one are fighters who could be prime candidates to earn their UFC shot right away, while the second list are fighters who may still be a couple wins away from a UFC contract.
***These lists do not include fighters who have already competed in the UFC.***
1. Teddy Ash (13-4) – Middleweight/Light Heavyweight, 29 Years Old **NOW ON DANA WHITE’S CONTENDER SERIES**
Ash is at the top of the list for a reason. After losing to Brendan Kornberger (9-4) back in Dec. 2016, Ash has rattled off wins in seven of his last eight fights. The one loss he did suffer was to UFC-vet Dominique Steele (18-12), a loss he avenged in a rematch less than three months later. Among those seven wins, Ash became the middleweight and light heavyweight champion for Unified MMA, as well as the light heavyweight champion for Prestige FC. What makes Ash’s run most impressive and UFC-worthy is four of those seven wins came against former UFC/Bellator fighters. Ash is ready for the big stage.
2. Tristan Connelly (12-6) – Lightweight, 33 Years Old
Don’t let the six losses fool you because those defeats are far in Connelly’s rear-view. Connelly has won seven of his last eight contests, with the lone loss coming to UFC-veteran Shane Campbell (17-8) back in June 2017. Since then, Connelly has rebounded with three straight wins, all in the first round, against opponents with a combined record of 27-9-1, while becoming the CageSport lightweight champion in the process. Since 2016, Connelly is 7-1 with all wins coming before the final bell.
3. Chad Anheliger (9-5) – Flyweight/Bantamweight, 32 Years Old
Considering the fact Anheliger entered 2016 with a 2-5 record, where he’s at today is nothing short of impressive. Anheliger is currently riding an seven-fight win streak, which includes becoming a double champ for Rise FC with wins over Craig Maclean (5-3) and Terrence Chan (4-2) in his last two contests. To make Anheliger’s case for a UFC contract even more compelling, six of his wins during his streak have been finishes, which is something the UFC surely loves to see.
4. Michael Hill (11-4-1) – Welterweight, 31 Years Old
Hill is someone the UFC is already familiar with, having been a contestant on season 16 of The Ultimate Fighter. While his first few bouts following his stint on The Ultimate Fighter were a rough go, Hill has quietly went 4-1-1 in his last six bouts, all against tough competition. While the UFC may want to see a few more finishes on his resume, Hill has the experience and skill-set to step in the cage with the toughest of competition.
5. Winner of Craig Shintani (8-2), 27 Years Old vs Neal Anderson (9-3), 31 Years Old – Featherweight/Lightweight
Shintani and Anderson are set to square off May 24 at Unified MMA 37 in what will be an elite-level fight. Shintani has wins in eight of his last nine contests, with six of those victories being finishes. Anderson is also coming in hot, currently riding a five-fight win streak with his most recent win coming at Unified MMA 35 over Curtis Demarce (18-14). Regardless of who comes out on top, the winner will have a resume likely to catch the UFC’s eye, while the loser will be one win away from being right back in the conversation.
6. Jamie Siraj (7-2) – Bantamweight, 24 Years Old
Since losing to newly-signed UFC bantamweight Cole Smith in Oct. 2016, Siraj has been on a tear. He’s currently riding a four-fight win streak with notable wins over Gabe Sagman (5-4) and Michael Hay (5-2). His victory over Hay also earned him the Unified MMA bantamweight title. Perhaps what makes Siraj’s UFC case more appealing than others is his age. If the UFC were to give this youngster a shot, they could have a future star in the making.
7. Mariusz Ksiazkiewicz (7-0) – Welterweight/Middleweight, 29 Years Old
Yet to taste defeat, Ksiazkiewicz is the real deal. Coming out of Winnipeg Academy of Mixed Martial Arts, Ksiazkiewicz has proven himself against some of the best on the regional scene, most notably a third round submission over Jo Vallée (7-4) and a second round stoppage of Micah Brakefield (7-8). Ksiazkiewicz has all the tools to be successful at the highest level, and his current five-fight finish streak and unbeaten record could very well catch the UFC’s eye.
8. Tom O’Connor (8-1) – Featherweight/Lightweight, 26 Years Old
Since losing his professional debut in 2014, O’Connor hasn’t tasted defeat since. In that time, he has strung together eight straight wins, including six finishes and the XFFC featherweight title. With the combined record of his opponents he defeated being 31-26, the UFC may want to see a win or two more over tougher competition. But his age, record, and reputation as a finisher is still hard to overlook, especially in a short-notice situation.
9. Alyssa Krahn (5-2) – Women’s Strawweight, 31 Years Old
Although it doesn’t count towards her record, Krahn is coming off a victory over Itzel Esquivel in her Invicta FC debut, an exhibition reserve bout at Invicta FC: Phoenix Rising 1. Prior to that, Krahn was victorious in her Cage Titans debut, a submission finish of Danielle Hindley (4-1) at Cage Titans 41. Having been a contestant on season 23 of the Ultimate Fighter, Krahn is a name the UFC brass is already familiar with, and could very well earn her call when the UFC returns to Western Canada.
10. Dustin Joynson (5-0) – Heavyweight, 33 Years Old
Joynson is a pure finisher. Other than his most recent win, a unanimous decision over Caio Machado (2-1-1), Joynson has been an absolute savage in the cage. To go along with four finishes, Joynson’s two most recent wins have earned him the titles of Havoc FC heavyweight champion and BFL heavyweight champion. With the heavyweight division being one of the tougher weight classes for the UFC to find true contenders, Joynson has a resume worthy of the call.
A Win or Two Away
1. Jesse Arnett (15-5) – Bantamweight, 34 Years Old
The only reason Arnett isn’t near the top of the previous list is for the sole reason the UFC doesn’t sign fighters coming off a loss. Arnett saw his epic 12-fight win streak come to an end at TKO 44 at the hands of Nate Maness (10-0). Luckily, Arnett has a chance to jump right back in the conversation with a win over Josh Hill (16-3) in less than two weeks at TKO 48. Arnett has been on the UFC’s radar for a long time, and a win over an opponent of Hill’s calibre could be the ticket.
2. Tanner Boser (15-5-1) – Heavyweight, 27 Years Old **NOW IN UFC**
Much like Arnett, the only reason Boser isn’t near the top of the previous list is his last two fights have been a draw and a loss respectively. Prior to his recent signing with M-1 Global, Boser was a regular in the ACB cage, competing against some of the top heavyweights outside of the UFC, including multiple UFC and Bellator veterans. Boser has shown he has what it takes to defeat some of the best heavyweights in the world, and a win over Jared Kilkenny (13-10) at Unified MMA 37 should have Boser back on the UFC radar.
3. Jared Revel (8-2) – Middleweight, 34 Years Old
Revel is one of the hottest middleweights in Western Canada, having won seven of his last eight contests, six of which were first round finishes. While this certainly is an impressive run, the combined record of his opponents at the time of those wins was 21-35, which could very well be the reason he hasn’t received a call yet. A win or two over the next level up in competition could very well secure a UFC contract for Revel, which can start June 1 at BFL 61 against former season 17 Ultimate Fighter contestant Collin Hart (6-3-1).
4. Alex Martinez (5-0) – Lightweight, 24 Years Old
At his age, Martinez has more experience than one would expect. In addition to his undefeated start as a professional, he boasted a 15-4 amateur record, which included multiple bouts on the IMMAF stage. Having just signed with Brave CF, and scoring a submission victory in his debut, the stage is set for Martinez to continue his unbeaten professional career against high-level competition, which would surely put him right in the UFC’s tracks, especially given his age.
5. Justin Basra (5-0) – Bantamweight, 30 Years Old
Basra has all the talent in the world, but the one thing that seems to be holding him back is not being able to find fights. No one wants to fight him. Basra has yet to taste defeat as a professional or an amateur, proving to be a dominant force in the majority of those victories. Other than Randy Turner (8-7), Basra has yet to truly test himself against elite-level opponents. A win or two over a step up in competition could very well earn Basra his ticket to the big dance.
6. Jamey-Lyn Horth Wessels (2-0) – Women’s Flyweight, 29 Years Old
Much like Basra, Horth Wessels was having a hard time finding fights in Western Canada. But after recently signing a deal with TKO MMA, Horth Wessels will surely be kept active, starting with a bout against Corinne Laframboise (3-2) at TKO 48 in less than two weeks. With the dominance she’s shown in her two professional bouts, a couple more wins over the high-level opponents she’ll be sharing the cage with at TKO MMA should see her firmly on the UFC radar.
7. Thomas Richardson (6-1) – Welterweight, 24 Years Old
Richardson checks almost every box; he’s young, he’s powerful, he’s a finisher, and he has that killer instinct. The only thing currently missing on his resume that could be holding back his UFC debut is a couple wins over high-calibre opposition. With all six of his wins being finishes, and with his age, a couple more wins over elite competition could very well earn Richardson the call.
8. Spencer Jebb (13-6) – Welterweight, 29 Years Old
At one point in time, Jebb was surely on the UFC’s radar, having just won his seventh fight in a row to move to 9-3 back in 2014. Now being under the M-1 Global banner, Jebb has the perfect opportunity to show why he deserves to be in the UFC. He’s facing elite competition each time he steps in the cage, and a few wins in a row over that level of opposition will certainly get his name in the UFC’s ear again.
9. Sheldon Doll (7-3) – Middleweight/Light Heavyweight, 28 Years Old
Another pure finisher. After starting his professional career 2-3, Doll has completely flipped the script, now riding a five-fight win streak with all wins coming in the first round. With the combined record of his opponents in his win streak being 28-43, the UFC would likely want to see Doll’s finishing prowess continue against a step up in competition. A few more wins in the same fashion he’s been producing them of late over high-level competition would certainly warrant a look from the UFC.
10. KB Bhullar (6-0) – Middleweight, 27 Years Old
While he’s only had two fights in the past six years, both coming in the past five months, Bhullar has all the skills to be something special. Having been inactive for such a long period of time, Bhullar will likely need to string together a few wins over tough competition, which starts May 24 at Unified MMA 37 where he will take on Cody Krahn (16-13). The sky’s the limit for Bhullar going forward.