Which Canadian Has the Best Chance to Win TUF Nations at Welterweight?
This Wednesday, The Ultimate Fighter: Nations will premiere on Sportsnet in Canada. The series will have Patrick Cote coaching four Canadian Middleweights and four Canadian Welterweights against Kyle Noke’s similarly staffed Australian team.
The Canadian Welterweights competing on Team Canada are: Olivier Aubin-Mercier, Matt DesRoches, Chad Laprise, and Kajan Johnson.
Top MMA News surveyed MMA experts (***see below for list of names) around Canada to see which Welterweight they believe will have the best chance to represent Canada in the TUF Nations Finale. Experts were asked to rank each Welterweight. The following are the results:
Chad Laprise (Total Points: 41, First Place Votes: 6)
Similarly to the Middleweights where Elias Theodorou was made the favourite by the panel of experts, an unbeaten Ontario fighter is the most likely Canadian to advance the farthest in TUF Nations. Chad Laprise (7-0) has a strong standup game and has been unbeatable early in his career. The Adrenaline Training Center fighter has done well against strong grapplers like Ainsley Robinson and Andrew McInnes and outlasted strikers like Derek Boyle.
Michael Davis was one expert who predicted a top finish for Laprise saying,
“My #1 Seed is Chad Laprise. He is so well rounded with a great arsenal of attacks with good ground game to back it up. His size may be a problem as he is going up from 155. Conditioning will be a strength here for Chad but size makes me worry about him. . I don’t expect him to be finishing many fights but winning the rounds.”
Kajan Johnson (Total Points: 37, First Place Votes: 3)
Ragin’ Kajan Johnson (19-10) has experience on his side. While some Canadians, like DesRoches and Mercier, are entering the TUF House with under five fights. Johnson has almost 20! Take away Ragin’s early career and you see what a stellar record he actually has. He is on a 7-1 streak in his last eight fights against tougher competition than any of his compatriots. What makes voters shy away from Johnson? Injuries and a two year layoff from the cage. Did his absence allow him to improve areas of his game or will ring rust be a problem?
One of three to vote Johnson their number one pick was Gary Whittaker. Here are his thoughts,
“Kajan has high caliber training partners, long time experience with living in a dorm environment, plenty of inside knowledge on TUF experience, and like Nordine, understands that he is at the best point in his career to capitalize on this experience.”
Olivier Aubin-Mercier (Total Points: 35, First Place Votes: 4)
Olivier Aubin-Mercier (4-0) comes in a close second despite fighting only four times. Aubin-Mercier also finished with more first place votes that Kajan Johnson! Voters like OAM’s large frame, which will come in handy for Aubin Mercier who will be fighting up a weight class on The Ultimate Fighter. Experts also love the Tristar/H20 camp he trains with and his Judo background.
Don Wilson loves the size and skill that Aubin-Mercier brings to the cage,
“Being that he is so much naturally bigger and his skill set is based on big judo takedowns and control, I think he’ll out muscle the smaller strikers in Laprise and Johnson. Plus on tourney based on taking the least damage, Aubin could get some quick subs or two round lay and prays then beat whichever Canadian is waiting in the semis.”
Mike Russell gave a glowing report on OAM,
Even though Mercier is a natural Lightweight and he doesn’t have as much experience as guys like Johnson and Laprise, I think you have to take into account his breadth of judo experience when analyzing his chances of success this season. He has done very well against some of the country’s elite grapplers and jiu-jitsu practitioners in open-weight no-gi competition and none of his MMA opponents have gotten out of the second minute of the first round. He is the only other fighter managed by Georges St-Pierre’s manager, Rodolphe Beaulieu, and rumour is GSP helped facilitate that relationship because of the potential and skill he saw in Mercier – a huge stamp of approval. I think he easily wins his side of the Welterweight bracket and earns a place in the Finale in his home province.
Matt DesRoches (Total Points: 17, First Place Votes: 0)
With only 17 points, Matt DesRoches (4-0) is the longshot out of all the Canadians (both Middleweight and Welterweight). This is most likely due to the fact that DesRoches has only had four fights and none were in front of a national audience. With a lack of tape on the Prince Edward Islander fighter, maybe he can sneak under the radar and surprise our experts and the Aussies! DesRoches also has the advantage of being the sole Welterweight in the group of four Canadians with Aubin-Mercier, Johnson, and Laprise all fighting at Lightweight.
Top MMA News maritime correspondent Derek Leblanc had the Wulfrun MMA fighter as his second ranked Welterweight. Here are his comments on DesRoches,
“The reason I have Desroches is because he is a big 170. I have seen all his pro fights. If he can get people down and get on top, he will be able to use his power to get the job done.”
Who Do You Think Will Win?
You heard from the experts, who do you think has the best shot at winning TUF Nations from the Canadian team?
Which Canadian will win TUF Nations at Welterweight?
- Chad Laprise (48%, 117 Votes)
- Kajan Johnson (30%, 74 Votes)
- Matt DesRoches (11%, 27 Votes)
- Olivier Aubin-Mercier (11%, 27 Votes)
Total Voters: 245
- Joey Benoit, matchmaker of LAMMQ, commentator of Le Fight Show
- Robin Black, analyst/colour commentator at Fight Network
- Skippy Cohen, MMA Madhouse
- Mike Davis, fighter
- Marc-Andre Drolet, matchmaker, MAD about MMA
- Keith Grienke, Top MMA News
- Bobby Karimi, the MMA Gypsy, former manager
- Derek Leblanc, Top MMA News
- Cody Rempel, Top MMA News
- Mike Russell, manager at The Fight Empire
- Shawn W. Smith, Top MMA News
- Gary Whittaker, host of TSN 1290 Weekend Morning show
- Don Wilson, Top MMA News