The Top 7 Career Turnarounds in Canadian MMA History

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Denis Kang (photo by Eric Gaudreault|www.godro.biz)

So you have started out your MMA career with a loss or two. There is no way that you can make it big now, right? Wrong! Not everyone starts their careers off by reeling off eight consecutive wins like Georges St-Pierre or John Makdessi or ten like Rory MacDonald.  Sometimes a fighter loses a few times before he starts reeling off the big wins.

This list tells the story of the seven Canadian fighters who stumbled out of the gate only to turn their careers around dramatically.

1. Denis Kang (34-12-2)
Early career setback: After an initial impressive 3-0 run to start his career, Denis Kang stepped up his competition facing past and future MMA stars such as Joe Slick, Minoru Suzuki, Osami Shibuya, Joe Doerksen and Jason Miller going 4-7 over his next 11 fights leaving him with a 7-7 record.

Hey, wait a second this guy has got something moment: Winning the June 2003 Super Brawl 30 – 4 man tournament. Super Brawl 30 seemed to change Kang’s fortunes, Kang exited the tournament with a very respectable 11-7 record (having picked up 2 wins in smaller shows prior to Super Brawl) and with seemingly new found confidence. Kang would go on to defeat UCC/TKO star Stephan Potvin in his next fight.

Record and big wins since turnaround:
Record of 27-5-2, with an epic Pride GP run, UFC stint and other achievements, including a 21 fight undefeated streak as well as notable wins over the likes of Andrei Semenov, Murilo “Ninja” Rua, Amar Suloev, Akihiro Gono.

Jonathan Goulet (photo by Eric Gaudreault)

2. Jonathan Goulet (23-12)
Early career setback: Jonathan Goulet struggled early racking up a record of 5-5, while mainly competing on the UCC “Proving Grounds” circuit. Usually either winningly quickly or losing quickly.

 

Hey, wait a second this guy has got something moment: TKO 14 win over fast rising MMA star Jeff Joslin in November of 2003, followed by 9 more wins in a row.

Record and big wins since turnaround:
Record of 18-7, including a very impressive 10 fight win streak, 11-0 record in TKO and a 9 fight UFC stint. Notable wins include a who’s who of the MMA elite including: Jeff Joslin, Travis Galbraith, John Alessio, Jay Hieron, Jess Bongfeldt, Kuniyoshi Hironoka, etc.

3. Jason Day (19-11)
Early career setback: Starting his career off with a 2-0 record, Jason Day met some early struggles going 1-5 in his next 6 fights, leaving him with a not so impressive record of 3-5 after three years in the sport. In that span, Day faced such notables as Rodrigo Munduruca, Krzysztof Soszynski (twice), and Ulysses Castro.

Burkman picks up Mein

Hey, wait a second this guy has got something moment: Five fight win streak, including win over TKO star Chris Fontaine, setting up a MFC title fight vs Victor Valimaki, and shortly afterwards dropping down to middleweight.

Record and big wins since turnaround:
Record of 16-6, with a stint in the UFC as well as a MFC Light Heavyweight Title shot. Notable wins over Chris Fontaine, Jonathan Goulet, David Loiseau, Alan Belcher.

4. Jordan Mein (21-7)
Early career setback: Jordan Mein started his career at the ripe age of 16. Obviously with starting so young, there were some growing pains, and the “Young Guns” seemingly spent as much time developing his skills in the cage as he did at CMAC in Lethbridge. Fighting during his scholastic and early pubescent years left Mein with a 3-4 record.

Hey, wait a second this guy has got something moment: Jordan Mein’s five fight win streak following back to back losses (Manderson and Hesson).

Record and big wins since turnaround:
Record of 18-3 and developing into one of the leading prospects in the MMA world. Notable wins over Joe Riggs and Josh Burkman.

Kajan Johnson (photo by Jason Bouwmeester|pixelens.com)

5. Kajan Johnson (18-10-1)
Early career setback: Much like the aforementioned Mein, Kajan Johnson also spent much of his teenage years and early MMA career developing as much inside the cage as in the gym. “Ragin” Kajan fought some very tough opponents such as Josh Thomson, Thierry Quinneville, and Stephane Dube during his formative MMA years attaining a record of 6-8.

Hey, wait a second this guy has got something moment:  Six fight win streak leading to a KOTC Canada Lightweight title shot vs Rory MacDonald.

Record and big wins since turnaround:
Record of 12-2-1 and developing into one of the leading prospects in the MMA world, XMMA Lightweight champion and current MFC Lightweight contender. Notable wins include Doug Evans and Ryan Healey.

6. Dwayne Lewis (13-7)
Early career setback: It took about a year and a half for Dwayne Lewis to find his groove.  Starting his career with fights at both Light Heavyweight and Heavyweight, “D-Bomb” struggled compiling a 4-5 record facing tough opponents early in his career like Ryan Jimmo, Chris Camozzi, and Aron Lofton.

Hey, wait a second this guy has got something moment: Stepping down his competition for a couple fights to build some confidence as well as a period of self reflectance led to a destructive seven fight win streak and becoming a MFC mainstay and fan favourite.

Record and big wins since turnaround:
Record of 9-2 evolving into one of MMAs most feared knock out artists setting up a recent MFC Light Heavyweight title fight vs Ryan Jimmo. Notable wins include Marvin Eastman, Mike Nickels and Razak Al-Hassan.

7. Ryan Diaz (13-13)
Early career setback: Ryan Diaz had a rough start to his MMA career facing a who’s who of MMA’s lighter weight class stars, tough! Fighting the following guys to start your career Uematsu, Yamaguchi, Katsumura, Pearson, Yagin, Marin, Franca, and Hominick is a difficult road to take. One can easily see why “The Lion had a 4-8 record prior to his turn around.

Hey, wait a second this guy has got something moment: TKO 17 win over TKO star Thierry Quenneville, up to this point “The Lion” had not been able to succeed when taking the next step up in competition.
Record and big wins since turnaround: Record of 9-5, including winning titles in both KOTC Canada as well as KOTC, and receiving a 2nd TKO title shot. Notable wins Thierry Quenneville (x2), Ed Newalu, and Kola Koka

Honourable mentions: Curtis Demarce 3-7 record to 10-9 record, Brad Cardinal 4-5 record to 12-6 record

12 Responses to “ The Top 7 Career Turnarounds in Canadian MMA History ”

  1. jesse says:

    You guys forgot mark holst

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  2. Holst started his career at 5-0. He started strong and does not belong on this list.

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  3. harry balls says:

    Dimitri Waardemburg. 2-4 in his first six. The kid is a comer now.

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  4. harry balls says:

    DENberg ha sorry no disrespect…

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  5. Bobby Karimi says:

    Fun read, good job!

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  6. Bobby Karimi says:

    Waardenburg woulda been a nice one to add to honorable mentions for sure.

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  7. Bobby Karimi says:

    Another honourable mention coulda been Josh Machan, started 0-3

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  8. I just wrote this a couple days ago for Waardenburg’s Ringside title fight!

    “Waardenburg got off to a slow start to his career, but has since won the last five fights over the past year and a half including a victory over Chucky Mady.”

    Tough kid and really came back from a rough start! If he is on a card near you, buy some tix as he is very fun to watch.

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  9. Machan and Demarce both have made huge comebacks but have failed to win thos big fights that would get them into the top 7.

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  10. Robin Black says:

    Claveau.

    Also John Fraser from losing record to fighting for a title.

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  11. Bobby Karimi says:

    Fraser is a good one. Based on sherdog went from 3-3 to 7-3.
    Claveau is super tough and would be a good consideration too I think.

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  12. Sean Quinn says:

    “Waardenburg got off to a slow start to his career, but has since won the last five fights over the past year and a half including a victory over Chucky Mady.”

    lol, i almost spit up my coffee. No disrespect at all meant to Dmitri, the kid is tough as nails. But mentioning a victory over Chuckles as a big moment in his career. lol

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