The year 2020 certainly wasn’t what we all expected or hoped it would be, but with 2021 on the horizon, the expectation is to see the majority of Canadian promotions back in action at some point during the year.
With the absence of MMA events in Canada for much of 2020, there will be no shortage of fighters eager to step back in the cage as soon as possible in 2021.
We’ve listed 10 all-Canadian matchups we’d like to see happen at some point in 2021. These matchups are all hypothetical, and Canadians currently signed to the UFC or Bellator were not taken into consideration.
Teddy Ash (14-5) vs. Aaron Jeffery (9-2) – Middleweight
Two Dana White’s Contender Series (DWCS) veterans battling it out for Canadian middleweight supremacy….what’s not to love? Both Ash and Jeffery have defeated nothing but elite-level talent in recent years, which often came from south of the border. If these two were to square off, it would be the biggest middleweight fight in recent memory on the Canadian regional scene. There are rumours of Jeffery being in the running for the next season of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF), so the likelihood of this fight happening may be low. However, if it were to happen, this would be a UFC-calibre fight well worth tuning in for.
Jesse Arnett (17-6) vs. Brad Katona (8-2) – Bantamweight
Once Katona earned a UFC contract through TUF, it didn’t seem like this very intriguing matchup would ever happen. And while it was unfortunate to see Katona be released by the UFC, this fight is once again possible. Arnett has taken on and defeated the best of the best on the Canadian regional scene, while Katona proved his abilities with two UFC wins, plus his two TUF wins. There’s no way this fight wouldn’t be fireworks.
Anthony Romero (9-0) vs. Neal Anderson (10-3) – Lightweight
This fight would arguably determine the top lightweight in Canada outside of the UFC. Romero is undefeated, while Anderson has won six straight. Realistically, Romero should already be in the UFC after his win on DWCS this past summer, but Dana White opted to pass on him this time around. A win over an opponent of Anderson’s calibre would most definitely push Romero another step closer to earning that contract, while a win for Anderson over Romero would certainly catch the attention of the UFC brass. With Anderson being a regular in the Unified MMA cage and their lightweight title currently vacant, what a fight this would be to determine the new Unified MMA lightweight champion.
Craig Shintani (9-3) vs. Tom O’Connor (9-1) – Lightweight
This fight feels like the Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Tony Ferguson of the Canadian regional scene. It’s been scheduled on multiple occasions, but has always fallen through. Regardless of its history, this fight needs to happen at some point. Both O’Connor and Shintani have the resumes to make their way to the UFC, making this a must-see fight. With O’Connor currently signed to XFC, it may be tougher to make it happen, but we can hope.
Christian Larsen (5-1) vs. Dustin Joynson (6-0) – Heavyweight
Larsen and Joynson are Canada’s two most likely heavyweights to make it to the UFC next, and they just so happen to have “beef.” Larsen has made it clear he wants to fight Joynson, so why not bring Joynson in to challenge him for his Unified MMA heavyweight title? The winner of this matchup would most certainly take an even bigger leap closer to their big show dreams, joining fellow Canadian Tanner Boser on the heavyweight roster.
Achilles Estremadura (6-0) vs. Alex Martinez (7-0) – Lightweight
What a fight this would be. Both men were signed to complete on this past season of DWCS, which shows the level of fight this would be. Estremadura may be the most technical and dangerous striker on the Canadian regional scene, while Martinez has proven to be solid everywhere. Estremadura is currently signed to Battlefield Fight League (BFL), and is the BFL lightweight champion. Estremadura vs. Martinez for the BFL lightweight title sounds pretty good.
Lucas Neufeld (5-1) vs. Josh Kwiatkowski (4-2) – Featherweight
While they may still be unknown to MMA fans outside of Canada, make no mistake, Neufeld and Kwiatkowski are true, legitimate prospects at featherweight. They’re both well-rounded fighters, and are looking for that next step up in competition, which they can both provide each other. When and if this fight takes place, there’s no doubting it will be a banger.
Jamey-Lyn Horth Wessels (4-0) vs. Jasmine Jasudavicius (4-1) – Women’s Flyweight
Both Horth Wessels and Jasudavicius are on the doorstep of the UFC, which would make this matchup even more intriguing. Horth Wessels was scheduled to take on Chelsea Hackett on this past season of DWCS, but was forced out due to Visa issues. With the skills each woman possesses, it’s only a matter of time before they each receive their shot on the big stage. But until that time, how about giving Canadian MMA fans a UFC-level fight to look forward to?
Christien Savoie (8-1) vs. Thomas Richardson (6-1) – Welterweight
It’s been over two years since we’ve seen Richardson in action, which is extremely unfortunate. Outside of his one loss, Richardson has walked through everyone put in front of him. Savoie, however, would provide the true test he needs. Although both men are perfect candidates for DWCS, there’s plenty of time between now and the start of next season to make this fight happen. This would be pure action from beginning to end.
Mariusz Ksiazkiewicz (8-1) vs. Jared Revel (11-2) – Middleweight
Ksiazkiewicz is coming off his first loss, a controversial decision loss to Mario Sousa on DWCS, while Revel just earned the biggest win of his career, defeating UFC-veteran Sergio Moraes at Taura MMA 10. Revel is also the current BFL middleweight champion, but BFL has struggled to find him top-quality challengers for his title. Ksiazkiewicz would more than fit the bill as a worthy challenger for Revel’s belt, and would make for an elite middleweight showdown on Canadian soil.