There is a lot of talent out there, all over the world. The most notable come from places such as the U.S., Brazil, and Russia. Canada nowadays gets overlooked.
It’s not like back in the day when the UFC had guys like GSP, Rory MacDonald, Patrick Cote, TJ Grant, Sam Stout, and Mark Hominick. Now currently, the UFC has a hand full of Canadian fighters and it’s Charles Jourdain and Hakeem Dawodu leading the charge. Here we will preview the future of Canadian MMA.
Read about who watch for now…
AT THE TOP
In my opinion, it’s three prospects that stand out when previewing the up-and-coming Canadian fighters. These three could jump right into the UFC, or anywhere else, and do very well.
For years, Jamey-Lyn Horth Wessels (5-0) has been known as the best Canadian woman prospect around. She proved that back in 2020 when she beat Jade Masson-Wong. She then rebounded off that in her U.S. debut for LFA beating Mayra Cantuaria. Just in her last two fights, she won the BFL and LFA flyweight titles. Her biggest issue though, is a lack of activity. She only has five pro fights and has only fought once a year from 2019 to 2021. Her wins include Masson-Wong, Cantuaria, Laframboise, and UFC’s Lupita Godinez twice as an amateur. Wessels is 32-years-old so the time for her is now.
Tony Laramie (6-2) is the younger brother of current UFC fighter TJ Laramie. TJ isn’t doing so great in the UFC as he’s 0-2 for the promotion. I’m sure he’ll bounce back and start to do really well in the UFC though. Tony is a flyweight that has fought good competition since turning pro. After a pair of consecutive losses in 2017, he’s won his last four fights. He’s a former TKO veteran and a PFC flyweight champion. Laramie debuted for LFA last December and looked outstanding. The young 23-year-old isn’t just one of the best Canadian prospects, but one of the best flyweight prospects worldwide.
Some may have forgotten about featherweight Alex Morgan (11-4). He was a former TKO featherweight champion until he lost it to Charles Jourdain. He won that title off TJ Laramie who he actually has beaten twice. Morgan has trained under Canadian MMA legend Firas Zahabi at the Tristar Gym. Morgan has won his last two, and is the current Samourai MMA featherweight champion. Before his recent 2-0 run, Morgan was on almost a three-year layoff. Now he’s back to his original form, and is one of the most deserving Canadians for sure.
Anthony Romero (11-1) has fought in the U.S. for his entire career, but still lives in Ontario, Canada. He fought on the Contender Series in 2020, and although he was dominant, he wasn’t awarded a contract in the end. He had a setback last year, but has since won his last two. He’s 11-1 as a pro and went 9-1 as an amateur. So he’s 20-2 combined with multiple regional titles. Coming off a highlight-reel flying knee knockout, his name should be on the shortlist for a UFC opportunity.
IN THE MIDDLE
The much experienced Corinne Laframboise (8-4) has had a tough, but successful career. She’s fought many good fighters, and has only lost to good fighters while beating some. Ever since signing with UAE Warriors in 2020, she’s looked better than ever. Laframboise did run into Manon Fiorot and came up short, but there is no shame in that. She did rebound from there and won her next three. In her last fight, she won the UAE Warriors flyweight title.
BJJ black belt Mateo Vogel (6-2) is quietly a stud prospect in the featherweight division. He was a bantamweight until he moved up last fight and won the BFL featherweight title. With a few wins over other young prospects, his losses are to top veterans in Da’Mon Blackshear and Xavier Alaoui. Fresh off winning the BFL title last month, he handed highly-touted Nic Ouellet his first loss proving he was the better grappler.
Zackery Powell (6-1) is a solid fighter out of Gatineau, Quebec training at Niagara Top Team. His only loss was a split decision, in a fight he arguably won. He has picked up two wins since that and has looked much improved since that loss. Powell is a well-rounded fighter and already has a lot of things going well for him at just 25-years-old.
Very underrated, due to the fact he hasn’t fought – is “Desert Storm” Tariq Ismail (6-1). Ismail was last seen in 2020 losing a decision to a very talented Bernardo Sopai. He has some MMA experience, but more experience in other combat sports. He has a background in muay thai, winning multiple fights. He was also a two-time Canadian boxing champion. When he was competing actively, a lot of eyes were on him, so hopefully we see him in the cage sooner rather than later.
Achilles Estremadura (7-1) had his chance at making it to the UFC last season on the Contender Series. Unfortunately for him, he fell short and did not look like himself in the slightest. Prior to that loss, Estremadura was the reigning defending BFL lightweight champion. He won the title in 2018 and defended it four times before fighting on DWCS. Estremadura is known for his cerebral knockout power, despite going the distance and winning three other times.
Christien Savoie (8-1) hasn’t been seen since November of 2020, after suffering his first career loss. Savoie got caught in a first-round submission. It was a big fight, being for CFFC and for the welterweight title. He did fall short and hasn’t stepped in the cage since. But before that, Savoie was on the doorstep of the UFC and one of the best Canadian prospects at the time. If he can get back in the cage at his prime age of 29-years-old, he can still make the UFC one day cause he’s that good.
Tom O’Connor (10-2) was riding a nine-fight win streak before falling short to Damonte Johnson. He has gotten back on the board since, with a win that happened a few weeks ago. O’Connor is a former XFFC featherweight champion; a title he won in 2018. After suffering his last loss, he took a year off to come back and get a big win a few weeks ago at Unified MMA 44.
In the last year, 25-year-old Serhiy Sidey (7-1) showed he is right there as one of the best up-and-coming Canadian prospects. Sidey is the current BFL bantamweight champion, first winning the title back in September of last year. He defended his title twice in the span of five months. His only loss is to Mateo Vogel, who is listed above. Sidey is a winner of his last three with very impressive performances.
ON THE RISE
Teshay Gouthro (5-1) is an exciting fighter out of Niagara Top Team, a gym with plenty of stellar fighters. He did have that one loss though, to Justin Wetzell in LFA in 2020. That would’ve been a big win for Gouthro, but fighting Wetzell that early in his career was too big of a jump. He did get another big opportunity just recently for CFFC, and won a unanimous decision. Gouthro has won his last two is on a bit of a roll.
Melissa Croden (3-1) had some hype, but it did fizzle out when she took that loss last year. In her defense, it was a split decision to a good prospect in Evelyn Martins. Croden did avenge that with a win last January, choking out her opponent in one round. Croden held titles as an amateur and as a pro, and has finished all three of her opponents. She’s still very young and is at the top of the list as one of the best female prospects out of Canada.
Someone that’s impressed me a lot, is British Columbia’s Albaraa Atmeh (2-1). Albaraa has a background in taekwondo and has fought in many amateur kickboxing fights. He fights now at 135, but did at 145 as an amateur and won a title. Atmeh recently lost in the BTC’s $10,000 bantamweight tournament, but I still predict a bright future.
Highly touted Jett Grande (3-0-1) is definitely one to watch for. He went 15-1 as an amateur, and was really successful. He was a 2018 IMMAF Junior Welterweight World Champion and a 2019 IMMAF Pan AM Champion. His pro debut resulted in a draw, and in his next three fights he won. Grande is more tested from his amateur career, compared to pros with multiple pro fights now.
Nick Leblanc (2-0) has impressed me ever since he was a young amateur. Unlike many of these fighters on this list, Leblanc hasn’t won any regional title. With that said, the opportunity hasn’t come and he has all the potential to hold many titles. He is still very raw, but so far lacks experience. So of course, he’s not gonna stand out as much. Leblanc has some potential and is someone to keep a close eye on in the years to come.
Another young pro is featherweight, Taylor Christopher (2-0). When he made his MMA debut as an amateur, he fell short. From there, he’s turned the corner and hasn’t lost since. He ended his amateur career as 7-1 and was a BFL featherweight and catchweight champion. Christopher has continued to fight for BFL as a pro, and is now 2-0 with two first-round finishes.
The winner of the BTC’s bantamweight tournament is Vinny Dias (4-0) who took home $10,000 and a trophy. He trains out of Niagara Top Team with the likes of Jasmine Jasudavicius and Aaron Jeffery. Dias was a flyweight champion as an amateur, and now fights at bantamweight where he has found a lot of success. He’s unbeaten in his new weightclass and as a pro. He has a super bright future.