Canada’s UFC Watch: Volume Two

The first edition of Canada’s UFC watch focused solely on fighters from Western Canada. Since the inaugural edition back in May 2019, both Tristan Connelly and Tanner Boser earned UFC contracts, while Teddy Ash and Dustin Joynson competed on Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series (DWCS), all of whom were featured in that first edition.

The second edition featured below now includes prospects from all across Canada who are the next likely frontrunners to represent Canada on MMA’s biggest stage.

You will see two lists below; the first one is fighters who could be prime candidates to earn their UFC shot right away, while the second list is fighters who may still be a couple wins away from a UFC contract. **Second list updated May 29, 2020**

***These lists do not include fighters who have already competed in the UFC, fighters who are currently signed to Bellator or ONE Championship, or fighters aged 35 and older.***

UFC-Ready

1. TJ Laramie (11-3) – Featherweight, 22 Years Old **Now in UFC**

TJ Laramie
TJ Laramie lands a body kick on Andrew Cruz in their bout at PFC 12. (Photo courtesy of Prospect Fighting Championships)

Laramie checks all the boxes. He’s young, has a strong record, has faced and defeated quality competition, and is a proven finisher. It’s not too often you see a 22-year-old with 14 professional fights under his belt, as well as having won titles in multiple organizations (Prospect Fighting Championships and TKO). Laramie holds notable wins over current UFC fighter Charles Jourdain, Joao Luis Nogueira, and Andrew Cruz, and has won six of his last seven fights overall. Laramie is ready to shine on the big stage.

2. KB Bhullar (8-0) – Middleweight, 28 Years Old

After taking over five years off from the sport, Bhullar returned late in 2018 and went on a tear. In under one year, Bhullar racked up four straight wins, most notably defeating UFC-vet Matt Dwyer to capture the Unified MMA middleweight title at Unified MMA 38 in September. Still undefeated and only 28 years old, Bhullar has shown no holes in his game and is a proven finisher with six first round stoppages on his record. Back in February, Bhullar signed on with Dominance MMA and Ali Abdelaziz for representation, which will only make his UFC debut happen sooner.

3. Neal Anderson (10-3) – Lightweight, 32 Years Old

Neal Anderson
Neal Anderson in the cage at Unified MMA 35. (Photo by Joel Griffith)

Anderson is on one of the hottest streaks on the Canadian regional scene, currently riding a six-fight win streak and having won eight of his last nine contests. Throughout his current win streak, the opponent’s Anderson knocked off had a combined record of 48-31, including his most recent victory at Unified MMA 37 over another promising prospect in Craig Shintani. Anderson has shown the ability to win a fight in every which way, and could be a prime candidate to make his big show debut the next time the UFC rolls into Canada.

4. Mariusz Ksiazkiewicz (8-0) – Middleweight, 30 Years Old

If it weren’t for having awful luck with his opponents getting injured over the past few years, Ksiazkiewicz could very well already be in the UFC. Out of his eight professional wins, seven of them have come before the final bell, including impressive victories over Jo Vallee and Guilherme Miranda. The UFC’s middleweight division has seen plenty of faces come and go as of late, and Ksiazkiewicz would be a perfect addition to an always exciting division.

5. Scott Hudson (11-5-1) – Welterweight, 32 Years Old

Scott Hudson
Scott Hudson in the cage at BTC 8: Eliminator. (Photo by BTC Fight Promotions)

Hudson was reportedly on the short list to make his UFC debut back in September at UFC Vancouver in a short notice matchup with Michel Pereira, an opportunity that ended up going to Tristan Connelly. Despite not getting his shot then, it’s clear Hudson is indeed on the UFC’s radar. And for good reason. He’s currently riding a four-fight win streak in which he captured and defended the BTC Fight Promotions 165-pound title. Hudson has lost just once since 2016, which was to now UFC-vet Kyle Prepolec. The UFC has already looked Hudson’s way once, and it’s likely they do so again.

6. Chad Anheliger (10-5) – Flyweight/Bantamweight, 33 Years Old

Streaks like the one Anheliger’s on can only go unnoticed and unrecognized for so long. Anheliger hasn’t tasted defeat since 2014, and has won eight-straight in that time, seven of which were finishes. In addition, Anheliger is a double champ for Rise FC, having captured both the flyweight and bantamweight titles less than five months apart. With the UFC currently looking to build up the flyweight division again, Anheliger would be the perfect candidate to aid in doing so. The time is now for Anheliger.

7. Christien Savoie (8-0) – Welterweight, 27 Years Old

Christien Savoie
Christien Savoie celebrates his title defence at Elite 1 MMA 37. (Photo by Lea Campbell Photography/Elite 1 MMA)

Another young, undefeated, exciting prospect just entering his prime. After capturing the Elite 1 MMA middleweight title back in 2017, Savoie made the drop to welterweight and also added the Elite 1 MMA welterweight strap to his collection in Jan. 2019. Savoie loves to put on a good show each time he steps in the cage, which is a trait the UFC brass is always in search of. Savoie is young, hungry, and ready to shine on the big stage.

8. Christian Larsen (5-1) – Heavyweight, 32 Years Old

Larsen may only have six fights under his belt, but for the heavyweight division that’s all he needs. Larsen is a monster and a killer when he steps in the cage. Having to cut weight to make the 265-pound heavyweight limit, every punch Larsen throws is lethal, which is backed by his three first round knockout victories. And to put a bow on his resume, Larsen captured the Unified MMA heavyweight title back in September, defeating Jared Kilkenny at Unified MMA 38. Larsen would be a dangerous, exciting, and fan-favourite edition to the UFC’s heavyweight division.

9. Malcolm Gordon (12-3) – Flyweight, 30 Years Old **Now in UFC**

Malcolm Gordon celebrates his win over Chris Kelades at Bellator 119. (Photo by Jeff Kovack/The Cage Report)

Another perfect addition to the UFC’s rebuilding flyweight division. Gordon has faced and defeated some of the best flyweights on the regional scene including UFC-vet Chris Kelades, Mike Davis, and most recently Yoni Sherbatov . So far in his fifteen-fight career, Gordon has captured the TKO MMA flyweight title, the WXC flyweight title, the Havoc FC flyweight title, and the Prodigy MMA bantamweight title. Gordon is no stranger to shining in big fights, and with the current four-fight win and finish streak he’s riding, what bigger fight for him to shine in than a UFC debut?

10. Jamie Siraj (8-2) – Bantamweight, 25 Years Old

Siraj is the perfect fit for the UFC’s bantamweight division. He’s young, just entering his prime, and is a finish machine. Siraj has finished seven of his eight wins, including a highlight-reel liver kick stoppage of Michael Hay to capture the Unified MMA bantamweight title at Unified MMA 35. Siraj is currently riding a five-fight winning streak, and if it weren’t for injury troubles over the past couple years, he very well could’ve already been on the UFC roster. Siraj’s time is coming, and it’s just a matter of when.

HONOURABLE MENTIONS: Tom O’Connor (8-1), Craig Shintani (9-3), Adam Assenza (12-6), Michael Hill (11-4-1), Xavier Alaoui (10-3)

A Win or Two Away

1. Teddy Ash (14-5) – Middleweight/Light Heavyweight, 30 Years Old

Teddy Ash
Teddy Ash celebrates his title defence at Unified MMA 36. (Photo by Joel Griffith)

The only reason Ash isn’t at the top of the above list is because he’s coming off a loss, and the UFC won’t sign a fighter coming off a loss. There’s no question Ash is UFC-ready, having beaten multiple UFC-vets in his career. There’s also no doubt he’s firmly on the UFC’s radar, having just headlined a DWCS card this past summer in a unanimous decision loss to Dusko Todorovic. Ash could be just one win away from his UFC shot, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see him get another look on the Contender Series to earn that win.

2. Louie Sanoudakis (8-2) – Bantamweight, 30 Years Old

Much like Ash, Sanoudakis is primed for his UFC debut, but is coming off a loss in his Brave CF bantamweight title challenge against Stephen Loman. Competing under the Brave CF banner, Sanoudakis is facing elite competition each time he steps in the cage. And with another win or two in quick order, the Tristar product could find himself firmly on the UFC’s radar.

3. Yoni Sherbatov (8-2-1) – Flyweight, 32 Years Old

Embed from Getty Images

Sherbatov is someone the UFC is already familiar with, having competed on The Ultimate Fighter Season 24. It’s rare to see a flyweight with true knockout prowess and power, but that’s exactly what Sherbatov possesses with four knockout wins in under one minute. Dropping two of his last three contests, Sherbatov has hit a bit of a rough patch. But a couple quick wins could be all it takes to get this exciting flyweight back in the UFC’s sights.

4. Achilles Estremadura (6-0) – Lightweight, 27 Years Old

One of the most clean and technical strikers in Canada, Estremadura’s game appears to be UFC-ready. But with how loaded the lightweight division is, it may be tough to crack the roster with only six fights under his belt. With his exciting fighting style and highlight-reel knockout potential, Estremadura seems like the perfect fit for a DWCS opportunity where he can show Dana White, in person, just how elite his striking is, and potentially earn his crack on the big stage via that avenue.

5. Alex Martinez (6-0, 1 NC) – Lightweight, 26 Years Old

Alex Martinez
Alex Martinez in the cage at Brave CF 23. (Photo by Brave CF)

After a long 15-4 amateur career in which he competed on the world stage twice, Martinez is far more experienced than he six professional fights suggests. But much like Estremadura, he’s trying to break into one of the strongest divisions in the UFC. There’s no doubting the talent and skill Martinez possesses, so it may only be a matter of one or two more quality wins under the Brave CF banner to land him his shot.

6. Tariq Ismail (6-0) – Bantamweight, 29 Years Old

If it weren’t for a three-and-a-half year hiatus that began back in 2014, Ismail very well could’ve already earned his UFC look. But since returning, Ismail has made a push into a prime position to show he’s ready for the big stage. Although not a proven finisher, Ismail’s ability to win and dominate fights can’t be denied. He may not be an ideal candidate for a DWCS opportunity, but a couple more wins against elite-level competition in Brave CF would push him to that 8-0 mark, and potentially a nod from the UFC brass.

7. Anthony Romero (7-0) – Lightweight, 23 Years Old

Romero has it all. He’s young, undefeated, and hasn’t faced a single opponent with a record below .500. After closing out an impressive 9-1 amateur career in 2017, Romero wasted no time building his name south of the border under the King of the Cage and Ohio Combat League banners. It’s clear Romero has all the tools to thrive in the UFC, and he seems like the perfect fit to showcase those skills on DWCS and lock up a deal that way.

8. Alex Morgan (9-4) – Featherweight, 29 Years Old

Alex Morgan
Alex Morgan engages with Jacob Bohn in their bout at Hybrid Pro Series 5. (Photo by Jean-Philippe Beland)

Morgan hasn’t competed since Dec. 2018, a first round submission loss to current UFC fighter Charles Jourdain. But the former TKO MMA featherweight champion is no stranger to fighting the best of the best, and doing so successfully. Perhaps, what stands out most on his resume is the two first round knockout wins over the aforementioned Laramie. Once Morgan gets the ball rolling again, it may only be a matter of another couple quality wins to be back on the UFC’s radar.

9. Jamey-Lyn Horth Wessels (4-0) – Women’s Flyweight, 30 Years Old

Horth Wessels has done nothing but dominate so far in her professional career. All four of her wins have came before the final bell, which includes becoming the BFL women’s flyweight champion back in February at BFL 65. And while it’s not unheard of to see a flyweight land a contract with only four fights, Horth Wessels seems like the perfect fit for a shot on DWCS to show the UFC brass her finishing prowess in person, and lock up her UFC tenure that way.

10. Aaron Jeffery (7-2) – Middleweight, 27 Years Old

Embed from Getty Images
Having just competed on DWCS this past summer, a first round submission loss to Brendan Allen, there’s no questioning Jeffery is already on the UFC’s radar. Jeffery wasted no time getting back in the win column following his DWCS loss, defeating Dennis Olson at Combat Zone 71 just over a month later. Whether he receives another DWCS crack this summer or just continues racking up the wins on the regional scene, Jeffery may only be a win or two away from locking up that contract that eluded him this past summer.

11. Lupita Godinez (4-0) – Women’s Strawweight, 26 Years Old

Another perfect fit for a DWCS look. Godinez has been flawless so far in her professional career, including most recently taking out Lindsay Garbatt to capture the BTC Fight Promotions strawweight title back in November. And while it wouldn’t be out of the question to see Godinez earn a UFC look outright, a DWCS matchup this summer with another elite level opponent would also be the perfect avenue for her.

HONOURABLE MENTIONS: Michael Dufort (7-3), Tony Laramie (5-2), Pat Pytlik (7-1), Adam Dyczka (7-1), Jasmine Jasudavicius (4-0)