Top 10 Maple Leaf Match Ups In October
With the summer season now clearly behind us, Canada’s MMA scene has come back from the beach all yoked and ready to rumble. With no less than fifteen fight cards taking place in just over four weeks all over the great fight north, fans everywhere will be treated to amazing MMA action. Due to the high number of world class fights being booked all over the country, this was the hardest month to date to come up with the 10 best. The best part of months that are chock full of such talent is wondering what the rankings will look like after such a busy schedule. As always, the Zuffa disclaimer, since all fights featuring Canadian talent in either UFC or Strikeforce will be broken down and dissected in various forms on Top MMA Radio and our usual great pieces, this list is reserved for action outside of the 500 lb gorilla. Now friends enough of the nonsensical babble let’s get on to the top 10.
- TJ Grant (16-5) vs. Shane Roller (10-4) – UFC on Versus 6 – October 1
- Georges St. Pierre (22-2) vs. Carlos Condit (27-5) – UFC 137 – October 29
10. Raphael Bergmann (4-2) vs. Ryan Fortin (5-3)
KOTC: Gold Mine – Dawson Creek – October 28
With Canada’s Heavyweight division so thin, it’s always good to see when two of the top five go to battle. Number 4 ranked Bergmann will defend his KOTC Canada Heavyweight title against Number 2 ranked Fortin. Bergmann, the reigning champ, has not fought in 11 months and looks to shake two recent losses. Last year, Bergmann decided to step up the competition and suffered his first two losses to KOTC veterans Tyler East and Tony Lopez. Fortin, on the other hand, suffered defeat at the hands of UFC veteran Chase Gormley last year and rebounded with a pair of victories over Logan Jarrell and UFC Hall of Famer Dan Severn. Obviously, Fortin comes into this tilt with a little more confidence but does he have the game plan to wrestle the title out of Bergmann’s hands? The lucky fans in Dawson Creek will be first to know. With KOTC not known to stream their events, hopefully some handheld footage becomes available of these two behemoths tussling.
9. Eric Wilson (5-1) vs. Diego Wilson (5-1)
Evolution FC – Grand Prairie – October 15
No matter the outcome of this Bantamweight brawl, the Wilson name will continue to reign supreme. Eric, Canada’s 5th ranked Bantamweight, returns to cage after a five month layoff and suffering his first career loss to John Fraser. The Saskatchewan native rose to top five of the rankings by defeating current TUF cast member Roland Delorme via split decision late last year. Diego, Canada’s 10th ranked Bantamweight, also returns after a recent layoff after suffering his lone career loss to Bantamweight juggernaut Josh Hill. The similarities between these two combatants is almost eerie; both are 5-1 and both suffered their first defeat in their most recent contest which were also both title fights. This tilt is easily the dark horse pick for fight of the month as both men love to put on exciting non-stop action fights. With both men on the heels of a loss, the winner will continue to climb the rankings ladder while the loser could fall right off.
8. Kajan Johnson (18-10-1) vs. Richie Whitson (11-1)
MFC 31 – Edmonton – October 7
After almost twelve months on the shelf due to injury and his ongoing interest in his music career, “Ragin” Kajan Johnson finally returns to action. Canada’s number 8th ranked Lightweight may be little rusty coming into this fight, as he stepped into the cage only once in the last two years. The hype around Johnson is well founded as he’s gone 6-1 in his last seven fights defeating Douglas Evans, Samuel Guillet and Steve Claveau in that time. Whitson, a Team Quest protégé, was extremely active in 2010 fighting five times and going 4-1 in that span. “Hell Boy” joined the Maximum Fighting Championships in early 2011 and made a big splash in the promotion when he narrowly defeated Canada’s 10th ranked Lightweight Curtis Demarce. This fight will determine if Kajan will return to his former glory or will “Hell Boy” send “Ragin” down in flames.
7. Misha Cirkunov (4-1) vs. Ali Mokdad (4-1)
Score Fighting Series 2 – Hamilton – October 14
Probably the most interesting and intriguing fight in this month’s top 10 as both men possess similar records while both have yet to notch that breakthrough win. Cirkunov, Canada’s 10th ranked Light Heavyweight, has been on the shelf for the past six months after starting off the year with two wins over Ricardo Francois and Ion Cherdivara. Mokdad, considered top be one of top up and coming Middleweights will take a step up in weight divisions when he faces Cirkunov. “The Monster” started off his 2011 campaign on the right foot defeating Andreas Spang. His train was quickly derailed when he was narrowly defeated via split decision by former TUF cast member Javier Torres. Can Cirkunov topple “The Monster” or will “The Monster” squash him? When the SFS kicks off on October 14, one man will finally get his career defining victory and prove that the hype train will continue to ride the rails.
6. Tristan Johnson (6-2) vs. Lyndon Whitlock (5-1)
Score Fighting Series 2 – Hamilton – October 14
With the new Featherweight rankings still fresh in everyone’s mind, this match could easily prove them null and void depending on the outcome. Johnson recently returned to the Featherweight rankings after outpointing Will Romero at the last SFS event. Whitlock, just outside of the Canadian top ten, has had a heavy workload in 2011 fighting four times in eight months and going 3-1 in that span. Considering Whitlock is a teammate of the aforementioned Romero, Whitlock could have some revenge on his mind come October 14. Either Johnson will return to being one of Canada’s top Featherweights and continue to rebuild his career or Whitlock will prove he is a top 10 contender and finally attain the important defining win. The fans in Hamilton should count themselves lucky as they will witness the best Featherweight fight in Canada in October.
5. Mike Ricci (6-1) vs. Daron Cruickshank (8-2)
Ringside 12 – Montreal – October 21
With Kurt Southern injured, Ringside matchmaker Joey Benoit may have found a tougher test for Ricci to conquer. Daron Cruickshank, a Michigan native and James Lee protégé, is still riding high after quickly shellacking the 6th ranked Lightweight Brad Cardinal this past June. Ricci erased the pain of his KO loss to Pat Curran by quickly dispatching the talented Jesse Ronson in less then one round earlier this year. With Guillaume DeLorenzi still inactive, his Ringside Lightweight title will be up for grabs in this intriguing scrap. While both combatants have a solid wrestling base, there is a good chance this tilt will take place mostly on the feet. Given how talented both Ricci and Cruickshank are in their stand up, the one that lands first and most often will definitely be the victor in this one. Can Ricci keep the title in the hands of a northerner or will another one of Ringside’s titles go down south.
4. David ‘Bo’ Harris (6-2-1) vs. Michel Gagnon (7-1)
Ringside 12 – Montreal – October 21
With a rash of late injuries plaguing the latest Ringside card, once again matchmaker Joey Benoit proved why he’s one of the best. With Ringside Bantamweight champion Stephane Pelletier sidelined with an injury, another Michigan native and Canadian killer “Bo” Harris steps up to the plate to welcome Gagnon to the Bantamweight division. Harris has had a superb 2011 campaign going 3-0 while defeating Chucky Mady, Brent Franczuz and number 2 ranked Adrian Wooley. Gagnon, Ringside’s Featherweight champion has not been as active as Harris; fighting only twice in two years with wins over Guillaume Lamarche and Rejean Groulx. Once again, considering the wrestling pedigree of both men, this bout should be expected to take place mostly on the feet. Given Gagnon’s height and reach advantage, hopefully he can stop Harris’s complete decimation of Canada’s Bantamweight division.
3. Nick Denis (9-2) vs. Nick Mamalis (22-7)
WRECK MMA – Gatineau – October 28
“The Ninja of Love” has lived up to his nickname as of late; he’s been silent and unseen but always developing his skills. Denis has not been heard from since March last year where he suffered a submission loss to Yuji Hoshino. Since then, Denis moved to Montreal and honed his skills at Canada’s Mecca of MMA Tri-Star gym. Combine that with TUF tryouts and a rash of injuries and it’s easy to see why Canada’s former number 1 Bantamweight has been out of the spotlight. Mamalis, on the other hand, has been very active fighting seven times in 2010 and twice already in 2011 including upsetting the highly ranked Adrian Wooley. Now 18 months after an injury forced Denis out of the inaugural Wreck MMA Bantamweight title fight, he returns to the organization in a title eliminator.Who will get a chance at toppling the “Haggis Basher,” can the “Ninja of Love” return to his successful feudal ways, or will “Garfield” finish him like a piece of day old lasagna?
2. Houston Alexander (13-6) vs. Steve Bossé (8-1)
Instinct MMA – Montreal – October 7
Finally, Steve Bossé gets a chance to fight a UFC veteran who is not on the downside of his career and potentially could raise the eyebrows of the big leagues. Bossé, Canada’s 6th ranked Light Heavyweight, has been on the sidelines for over sixteen months due to injuries and promotional disorganization. Alexander, a UFC veteran probably best known for his KO of Keith Jardine or being defeated by the infamous Kimbo Slice, has been on an “under the radar” win streak of late. “The Assassin” has gone 4-0 in his last outings defeating the likes of Remeau Thierry Sokoudjou and Razak Al-Hassan. Considering both men enjoy throwing down and probably could not spell takedown, this should be one of October’s most exciting fights. The phrase “don’t blink” could never ring truer then in this tilt. If you live in the Belle Province and have not picked up your tickets to Stephane Patry’s return to MMA, you’re silly!!!
1. Ryan Jimmo (15-1) vs. Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou (12-8)
MFC 31 – Edmonton – October 7
Another UFC veteran put in front of Jimmo, but this time its no blown up Middleweight. Sokoudjou is a bonafide Light-Heavyweight. Jimmo, Canada’s number 1 Light-Heavyweight, is the winner of 15 straight fights but has slowed in recent years fighting only three times in the last two years. Sokoudjou, best known for his lightning quick KO’s of Ricardo Arona and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira back in 2007 has mostly traded wins and losses since his initial rise to fame. Rameau has improved as of late – the winner of his last three straight including W’s over Jan Blanchowicz and Roy Boughton. For Jimmo, this could finally be his shot at the big leagues. Already defeating former UFCers Wilson Gouveia, Marvin Eastman and Jesse Forbes, a win over Sokoudjou could potentially have UFC brass knocking on his door (if they aren’t already!). Either man’s game plan could be their key to success in this fight. Jimmo known for his technical striking needs to use his range and finesse to stifle Sokoudjou’s need to brawl and swift Judo takedowns. Rameau, on the other hand, wants to turn this fight into a brawl winging his powerful right hand and getting inside for the clinch to bring Jimmo down to the canvas. Jimmo, the master of taking fights deep, could be seen to have the advantage over Sokoudjou’s limited gas tank. But Sokoudjou has gone the distance twice in his last three fights and has come out victorious. A win for Sokoudjou could put him on his biggest win streak to date; a win for Jimmo could put him in the big show. On October 7th, who has the most to gain and who has the most to lose?