Mixed Martial arts has seen a rapid rise in popularity over the last few years, with fighters like Conor McGregor making headlines for a variety of right and wrong reasons. As well as people falling out of love with other combat sports like Boxing due to the way fighters pick and choose their fights and it being all about the dollar. Today we’re going to be taking a look at mixed martial artists from one region in particular. Canada.
Canada has a whole host some of the most incredible fighters that have reigned from their land, from the obvious like Georges St-Pierre, the man who is always in the discussion for GOAT (Greatest of All Time) status to some people who others may not have even known were from Canada, like Rory MacDonald who was one of the participants in what is genuinely one of my favorite fights I have ever watched when he fought the great Robbie Lawler for the second time way back in 2015.
It makes sense to put together the list first and then talk about each fighter one at a time, so here it goes;
- Georges St PIerre (26-2)
- Rory MacDonald (23-10)
- TJ Grant (21-5)
- Carlos Newton (16-14)
- Patrick Cote (23-11)
- Sam Stout (20-12)
- Gary Goodridge (23-22)
Now we could talk all day about some of the fighters on this list, so we think it’s better to go into detail about the top 3. I personally think you’ll get much better bang for your buck that way, so it’s only right we start at #3 and save the best for last. Time to talk about the 3rd fighter on our list who, weirdly, has a better record than #2 but, is definitely the most unknown fighter among the top 3!
#3 – TJ Grant – 21-5
TJ Grant was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. A mixed martial artist with a big Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Wrestling background, also 3-time provincial wrestling champion and represented Nova Scotia at the 2001 Canada Games. He made his debut in the UFC, often considered the peak of the mixed martial arts world, at UFC 97 in April 2009, where he beat Ryo Chonan by split decision and would remain in the UFC until May 2013, where he beat Gray Maynard by TKO.
Grant was a fighter that many held in high regard, but perhaps never quite reached their true potential having a bit of an up-and-down career, even with an outstanding record like he had. His final fight against Gray Maynard actually earned him a shot at the Lightweight champion Benson Henderson, but unfortunately, he would never end up recovering from a heavy concussion he received in 2013 meaning his career ultimately ended in disappointment.
#2 – Rory MacDonald – 23-10
Rory MacDonald, born in Quesnel, British Columbia, Canada. Spanning an incredibly successful career, starting out in King of the Cage before eventually joining the UFC with a 9-0 professional record, making his UFC debut in 2010 against Mike Guymon. Rory would go on to fight pretty much every big name Welterweight you can think of and got huge wins over most of them, names like Tyron Woodley, Demian Maia, B.J Penn, Nate Diaz and so many more. Though his record was a rather mixed bag, he still made a huge name for himself, especially in his second fight against Robbie Lawler. A fight that, to this day, I cannot explain why it isn’t in the UFC hall of fame.
Unfortunately, following that fight, he would suffer one more loss in the UFC to Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson before he left to join Bellator, where again he had a mixed bag. He did however win the Bellator Welterweight Championship by unanimous decision against Douglas Lima in 2018. From then on it was a bit of a slippery slope for Rory and he never reached those heights again. Although he had an incredible career.
Speaking of Robbie Lawler, the UFC veteran was recently due to fight on the upcoming UFC 282 card. He was scheduled to take on Santiago Ponzinibbio at Welterweight, however due to injury he has had to pull out. But the show must go on, with Alex Morono taking Robbie’s place. That wasn’t the only fight on the card that has been shuffled around either, with the main event, Jiří Procházka Vs Glover Teixeira, now changing to Jan Blachowicz Vs Magomed Ankalaev after Jiří pulled out due to a severe shoulder injury and Glover said he wouldn’t fight Ankalaev on 2 weeks notice.
I feel like it’s worth taking a look at what the experts think for this big end-of-year card, so if you want to take advantage of some of the offers from our recommended Sports Betting Sites in Canada, here are some of the odds for the 2 fights we have mentioned above. Starting with Ponzinibbio vs Morono, which is a catchweight fight. Ponzinibbio goes into this one as the favorite at -175 returning $7.85 from $5, while Morono who stepped in last minute is the +150 underdog, returning $12.50 from $5
As for the main event, which is now Jan Blachowicz Vs Magomed Ankalaev, both fighting for the vacant Light Heavyweight title due to that severe shoulder injury suffered by Procházka. You have, on one side, Blachowicz who has already been Light Heavyweight champion but lost his belt to Glover. Before Glover he lost it to Jiri. On the other side, you have Ankalaev who has been on a tear in the UFC and looking to get his hands on the strap finally. Understandably, Ankalaev is the heavy favorite at -300, returning a mere $6.66 from $5 with Blachowicz being the +240 underdog, returning $17 from the same stake. That’s enough talk about modern champions, though, it’s now time to talk about one of the greatest to ever do it.
#1 – George St. Pierre – 26-2
George St. Pierre, born in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Is arguably one of the greatest mixed martial artists of all time. His record speaks for itself. His trophy cabinet as it were is absolutely full to the brim and, much like Rory MacDonald, he beat everybody who was anybody back in his day, even coming out of retirement to fight for the Middleweight title against MIchael Bisping, claiming a submission win and the Middleweight championship. His second UFC belt, by the way, after holding and defending the Welterweight Championship many times.
GSP’s only 2 losses in his career were against Matt Serra and Matt Hughes, but he would go on to have a trilogy with Huges where he came out on top 2-1 and got a rematch with Serra, which he went on to win by TKO. Holding multiple black belts in multiple different martial arts, GSP is genuinely considered one of the best all-round fighters the UFC has ever seen and years after his retirement (2013) and second retirement (2017) he is still in the discussion for that GOAT status and rightly so. It would be interesting to see how a GSP in his prime would fare against some of the big name Welterweights in the organization today. Prime GSP Vs Kamaru Usman or Khamzat Chimaev anyone?
Fight fans of Canada, is there anybody on this list you feel doesn’t belong there? If so, who would you put in this top 7? I think the top 2 are absolutely cemented in this list and there’s no moving them right now. But I have to say the rest of the list can be fully interchangeable, unlike some other nations there have been plenty of good fighters but not a whole lot you could call great fighters, certainly none that can come close to the likes of GSP, even Rory MacDonald, a fan favorite for many years, is lightyears away from GSP.
Are there any young mixed martial artists coming out of Canada that we need to keep our eyes on that may one day grace the various lists of greatest Canadian fighters of all time? Across all sports you’ll always find people are comparing current athletes to the greats of the past, has anybody seen any Canadian fighters that people are dubbing the “next George St-Pierre” yet? If not it’s only a matter of time surely, given the rising popularity, I imagine that includes kids getting involved and wanting to make a career out of being a fighter too!