10 Canadian fighters to keep an eye on in 2022

With 2021 now in the books, it’s time to look ahead at what we could be in store for in 2022.

Canada has no shortage of young, up-and-coming prospects looking to make their mark in the MMA world. You just may not have heard of them yet.

The 10 fighters listed below are all still young and early in their professional careers with five fights or less, but are all names to watch for as we kick off 2022.

Zack Powell (4-1) – 24 years old, lightweight

Zack Powell
Zack Powell enters the cage at BFL 67. (Photo by Joel Griffith/MMA Empire)

If not for a very questionable and controversial split decision loss to Dario Sinagoga at BFL 67, Powell would still be undefeated. However, questionable decision aside, Powell’s strong wrestling base paired with his constantly-improving striking make him a tough out for any opponent. After having a bout cancelled due to COVID-19 measures in Dec. 2021, look for Powell to be back in action in early 2022 and make a push for a shot on Dana White’s Contender Series (DWCS).

Nicolas Ouellet (2-0) – 25 years old, featherweight/lightweight

It was a massive 2021 for the jiu-jitsu ace Ouellet as he kicked off his professional career with back-to-back first round submission wins. Ouellet is a serious threat to finish any fight once it hits the mat, whether he’s on his back or on top, and despite being just two fights into his professional career he is already closing in on a BFL lightweight title shot. Look for Ouellet to continue that title run at BFL 71 on Feb. 17 where he’s expected to be in action next.

Teshay Gouthro (4-1) – 27 years old, bantamweight

After ending 2020 with a decision loss while taking a massive step up in competition on short notice at LFA 93 against Justin Wetzell, Gouthro rebounded nicely in 2021 with a dominant TKO win at BTC 13. Gouthro’s relentless attack makes him a threat to finish the fight each time he steps in the cage. Only having competed twice in the last two years, look for Gouthro to have a busy 2022 as he makes a legitimate push for DWCS and the big show.

Jett Grande (2-0-1) – 23 years old, lightweight

Jett Grande
Jett Grande in action at Unified MMA 42. (Photo by Joel Griffith/MMA Empire)

Grande is coming off a massive 2021 in which he made his professional debut, competed three times, remained undefeated and polished the year off with a highlight-reel knockout win over Steven Thomas at Unified MMA 42. Grande’s striking has shown huge improvements in his last two bouts and pairing that with his already-elite wrestling base, he is in prime shape to make a serious run in the lightweight division in 2022.

Bobby Poulter (3-0) – 25 years old, welterweight

Although he only competed once in 2021, it was a statement win for Poulter as he brutally knocked out fellow welterweight prospect Keanan Kellar at BFL 68. Yet to taste defeat as a professional or amateur, Poulter possesses serious knockout power and also boasts a strong ground game. If he can put together an active 2022, he’s a prime candidate to climb the welterweight rankings in a hurry and put himself in position for a crack at the big show sooner rather than later.

Austin Russell (3-0) – 24 years old, bantamweight

Russell was the the upset king in 2021, taking out both Indroop Virk and Gio Platon in back-to-back showings in the BFL cage. Platon was fresh off challenging for the BFL bantamweight title while Virk was a favourite to claim the flyweight strap in the near future, but Russell handled them both. If not his next bout, Russell will likely see himself challenging for the BFL bantamweight title at some point in 2022, positioning him for an even bigger year than 2021.

Jonathan Broad (2-0) – 21 years old, lightweight/welterweight

Jonathan Broad
Jonathan Broad in action at BFL 67. (Photo by Joel Griffith/MMA Empire)

Coming from a relatively unknown camp, Broad’s impressive 2021 campaign flew under the radar. He maintained his finishing prowess from his amateur career, picking up his first two professional wins last year with third round finishes. Broad’s sharp striking and ability to mix in the wrestling could see him make a quick ascension up the rankings and potentially challenge for a title in late 2022 if he can put together another couple quick wins to start the year. He’s already scheduled to take on Mike McAloon at BFL 71 on Feb. 17, so the path is there.

Albaraa Atmeh (2-0) – 23 years old, bantamweight

After an impressive amateur career, the professional debut of Albaraa was much-anticipated. And he didn’t disappoint, kicking off his professional career with two wins in 2021. Although still early in his career, Albaraa is already one of the best strikers in the Canadian bantamweight division and will look to continue proving that when he takes on Ariel Zuniga in the BTC $10k bantamweight tournament semi-finals at BTC 14. The future of the bantamweight division is very bright.

Izzudeen Atmeh (2-1) – 20 years old, bantamweight

Much like his older brother, Albaraa, Izzudeen possesses a top-tier striking acumen, which he put on full display as he kicked off his professional career in 2021 with two wins and one defeat, including a nasty knockout win over Isaiah Metituk at BTC 11. Izzudeen has also advanced to the BTC $10k bantamweight tournament semi-finals, paving the way for a potential all-Atmeh final should he and his brother both win their respective bouts. Regardless, the Atmeh brothers are both ones to keep an eye on.

Vinny Dias (2-0) – 23 years old, bantamweight

After over four years since his last amateur fight, Dias began his professional career in 2021 in impressive fashion, winning both bouts and advancing to the semi-finals of the BTC $10k bantamweight tournament where he will meet Izzudeen Atmeh at BTC 14. Dias has looked nearly unstoppable since his return to action and if that continues in 2022, he could be poised for a big year if he remains active.