Best of Canada 2012: Fighter of the Year
Top MMA News Fighter of the Year
1. Rory MacDonald
Prior to 2012, Rory MacDonald was a great UFC prospect. He was touted as being the heir apparent to Georges St-Pierre as the next great Canadian fighter. In 2012, MacDonald went from being a great prospect to proving he was a top fighter with two wins in the UFC. The first win was over another bright prospect in Che Mills. Mills went into the fight with Ares on a five fight win streak with victories over Chris Cope and Jake Hecht. Rory Mac demolished him and showed everyone that he was too good to be facing prospects like Mills as opponents. Next up was his career-defining fight against ‘The Prodigy’ BJ Penn. Not only did MacDonald win the fight, he did so in dominant fashion and showed the world that he was not just “The Next One” anymore but a title contender, a World Top 10 Welterweight, and Canada’s Fighter of the Year.
2. TJ Grant
Like MacDonald, the Pride of Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia put himself on the world map in 2012. After dropping down to 155 in 2011 and beating Shane Roller, Grant remained an unbeaten Lightweight throughout 2012. First, he defeated Carlo Prater by Unanimous Decision. Next, he took out former Lightweight contender Evan Dunham in one of the best Canadian fights of the year! The dominant win over Dunham and three fight winning streak moved Grant to within shouting distance of the World Top 10 Lightweights and Canada’s Fighter of the Year for 2012.
3. Jesse Ronson
With four wins in 2012 (three against highly regarded Lightweights), Ronson was easily the Canadian fighter of the year that did not fight in the UFC. ‘The Body Snatcher’ first knocked off ‘Outside the Top 10’ fighter Brad Causey in one of the best rounds of 2012. After a quick win in a rematch with Eric St-Pierre, Ronson fought twice for the Score Fighting Series. At SFS 5, Ronson faced the dangerous Alex Ricci and dominated the previously unbeaten Ricci over three rounds. Finally, at SFS 7, Ronson destroyed the ultra-tough Ryan Healy over three rounds where he dished out a one-sided beatdown to a fighter who had just beaten Paul Kelly. Ronson had a tremendous year, extended his win streak to seven fights, and, most importantly, showed he is ready for a UFC callup in a fantastic 2012.
- Ryan Ford – Love him or not, one must admit that Ford had a great 2012. ‘The Real Deal’ warmed up the year with a quick dispatching of the tough Ricky Goodall. He followed that up with a comeback victory over Luis Santos at Bellator where he impressively finished Santos with knees and punches to win in the second round. He finished perfect in Bellator with a win over Kyle Baker in November for an awesome 2012.
- Sean Pierson – With two consecutive UFC losses hanging over The Punisher’s head, Pierson had to come up big in 2012 or else he would be looking for employment elsewhere. That is exactly what Pierson did as he beat Jake Hecht on UFC on FX 3 to get back to .500 in the UFC. He then won two rounds against Lance Benoist and showed ultra-toughness in hanging on in the third to obtain the decision victory. 1-2 before 2012 and 3-2 after. Impressive!
- Smealinho Rama – Canada’s Rookie of the Year for 2012 went a perfect 5-0 in his first year of professional competition. Rama took out the likes of Lee Mein, Craig Hudson and Ryan Fortin among other in the year. Rama went from nowhere to the #2 Heavyweight in Canada. Sky is the limit for this Canadian Heavyweight.
- Mike Hackert – A former Middleweight takes some time off from fighting and returns at Heavyweight to win a pair of fights against a UFC veteran. Sounds impossible but that is exactly what Mike Hackert did in 2012. Going from nowhere to the #1 Heavyweight in Canada with a decision win over Tim Hague and a TKO win in a rematch.
- Tyson Steele – Tyson Steele went from being the fighter with the best record in Canada that no one had seen win to being a Gracie killer all in one year. Prior to 2012, Steele was 8-1 with wins mainly in Evolution Fighting Championship. In 2012, Steele won a bout against Jarod Milko in AFC then finished Gregor Gracie in an oustanding performance at the World Series of Fighting which vaulted him into Canada’s Top 10 Welterweights.
- Shane Campbell – If hardware was the deciding factor in being the Best in Canada for 2012, Shaolin would run away with the title. Campbell won two belts over 2012 in two different weight divisions. After defeating Derek Boyle by Unanimous Decision on The Score’s fourth show, Campbell was crowned Unified Welterweight champ with a win over Tim Smith and Aggression Lightweight champ with a finish of Stephen Beaumont. Three 2012 wins over three tough opponents for a great year!