Top Maple Leaf Match Ups In June 2015

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Top 10 Maple Leaf Matchups THUMBWords can barely do justice to the level of amazingness that is this month’s Top Maple Leaf Match Ups. Honestly, the only issue that will be brought up is who deserves a space on the illustrious 10; something that surely will cause much debate. What cannot be debated is just how great the month of June is for Canadian MMA and its hardcore fans. Now, without further ado, as no one is here to read the intro, let’s get down to the nitty gritty – this month’s Top Maple Leaf Match Ups:

Honorable Mentions:

Kalib Starnes (photo: Rob Trudeau)

Kalib Starnes (photo: Rob Trudeau)

10. Kalib Starnes (16-9-1) vs. Rodney Wallace (22-10-1)
Hard Knocks 44 – Calgary – June 26
It has been over a year since Kalib Starnes fought Dave Herman at Heavyweight at Titan Fighting 28. He lost that bout after reeling off four consecutive wins spanning the 185, 205, and 265 divisions. Since losing to Joe Doerksen in 2012, Starnes had been using his fantastic striking to take out all comers until he ran into Herman. He will finally return to the cage at Hard Knocks against UFC veteran Rodney Wallace. Wallace, who will be fighting for the fourth time at Hard Knocks, most recently was defeated by Misha Cirkunov in Calgary. Previous to that, he took out Clay Davidson and Ariel Gandulla in the HK cage. Can Sho Nuff the Master get back to his winning ways at Hard Knocks or will Starnes shake off the ring rust and return to his dominant form.

9. Jonathan Meunier (4-0) vs. Lloyd Galindo (5-3)
LAMMQ 4 – Quebec City – June 6
There’s a lot of great fights this month that won’t crack the top 10 and much debate will be had as to which are the 10 best and many will say this match up doesn’t belong but that’s because Jonathan “District” Meunier is the best Canadian fighter no one is talking about. Undefeated in four professional bouts with all four being first round TKOs and most recently he dominated the very experienced Yannis Jacquet before eventually finishing him with knees and punches. Meunier fights out of the Nordik Fight Club in Quebec City but has spent time at Tristar training with Firas Zahabi. Lloyd Galindo also has been quietly raking up the wins while flying under the radar. Besides a hiccup against the gone but not forgotten Michael Karkula, he is 4-1 in his last 5.  Included in his most recent wins are a hard fought decision over Nabil Khatib and a second round submission over Stephane Lamarche. This should be the break out year for Meunier and in a scene where we are used to young fighters, especially Quebec prospects, taking easy fights, Meunier has been the exception. Galindo is tough as they come and fans will finally see what Meunier has after five minutes of competition as it seems highly unlikely he’ll be able to stop Galindo early, but hey, even if he does, he’ll just add another top notch scalp to his ever improving mantle.

Hakeem Dawodu (photo: Alicia Hamilton | Red Statyk)

Hakeem Dawodu (photo: Alicia Hamilton | Red Statyk)

8. Hakeem Dawodu @MeanHakeemKO (4-0) vs. Chuka Willis @ChukaWillis (4-0)
WSOF 21: Palmer vs. Horodecki – Edmonton – June 5
Honestly, how can this match up get any better? You have two highly touted undefeated Featherweights set and ready to throw down and inside a relatively thin 145 lbs WSOF division the winner could maneuver themselves into an early title shot. Hakeem Dawodu, who splits his training time between Champion’s Creed and Mike Miles Muay Thai, has been an absolute killer since transitioning over to MMA in 2014. Four bouts with four TKO/KO finishes over impressive opponents like Mike Malott and Tristan Johnson. Chuka Willis, who trains out of Agoge Martial Arts, also began his pro career in early 2014 but also has a bevy of amateur bouts under his belt going 5-1 as an unpaid knuckle chucker. “The Lion King” may have the edge in the experience department but in terms of previous opponents, Dawodu’s all had winning records while only one of Willis’ four victims can say the same. The bout will be leading off the main card on NBCSN and this is the perfect slot for Dawodu to make a perfect explosive statement.

7. Brandt Dewsbery @DewsberyMMA (13-3-1) vs. Miles Anstead @MilesAnsteadMMA (6-0)
Hard Knocks 44 – Calgary – June 26
A lot of match ups this month feature UFC veterans and big name stars, this is a match up that has neither of those but it’s easily a dark horse for fight of the month and one of tastiest match ups on the list. Brandt Dewsbery, a member of CMAC, took a year off in 2013 and contemplated an early retirement but luckily for us he decided against it. Besides a quick hiccup against Sergej Juskevic, “The Peppermint Hippo” went 3-1 in 2014. The current Unified MMA Welterweight champion has notable wins over Benjamin Smith and Mark Drummond. Miles Anstead, who now trains out of Complete Fitness and Martial Arts, is an undefeated stud who has been smashing opponents since he debuted in October 2012. “Deep” already has some impressive scalps on his resume including Ash Mashreghi, Teddy Ash and Jared McComb. Now two of the most promising 170 pounders to come out of Alberta will lock horns and throw down for all the marbles. Welterweight is an extremely deep division in Canada but the winner will make a great case to propel themselves into the top 10.

Nick Ring (Photo by Jason Bouwmeester)

Nick Ring (Photo by Jason Bouwmeester)

6. Nick Ring @Promise_Riing (14-3) vs. Cory Devela @Cory_the_ONE (14-6)
Hard Knocks 44 – Calgary – June 26
Two years on the shelf didn’t seem to faze Canada’s top Middleweight as Nick “The Promise” Ring returned to action just two short weeks ago and earned a hard fought decision victory over submission specialist Jason Zentgraf at Hard Knocks 43. Now with only 33 days of rest, he will get right back on the horse and take on another solid opponent this time Strikeforce veteran Cory Devela. Ring, a member of Champion’s Creed MMA, went 3-3 inside the UFC but his Octagon run was marred by contentious decisions. Now, he seems to have refound his love for the fisticuff game as proven by his willingness to stack on fight on fight to get as much ring time as is possible in 2015. Cory Devela, who trains out of Victory Athletics, fought four times under the Strikeforce umbrella going 1-3 with a win over Joe Riggs but suffered losses to stiff competition like Luke Rockhold, Terry Martin and Bobby Voelker. “The One” is 3-1 in his last four outings including a two fight win streak over David Anderson and Jared Torgenson. This is an interesting stylistical match up as Ring is a striker who has really pushed his wrestling game hard lately while Devela is submission specialist with a penchant for chucking leather. Devela is a tough out especially with Ring only having 33 days to recoup after his last three rounds but when Ring is on point, it’s always a promise he’ll deliver.

5. John Alessio @JohnAlessio79 (35-17) vs. David Rickels @TheCaveman316 (16-3)
Bellator MMA 139: Kongo vs. Volkov – June 26
The first Canadian to ever challenge for a UFC title looks to take one last career run in Bellator and the Spartan organization is doing him no favors putting him against title challenger, fan favorite and local boy David “Caveman” Rickles. John Alessio, who lives and trains in Las Vegas out of Xtreme Couture, turned around a four fight slump with a decision win over Eric Wisely at Bellator MMA 119. He will look to build on that win and make himself a contender inside Bellator’s stacked Lightweight division. A 50 fight veteran, “The Natural” holds notable wins over the likes of Chris Clements, Sean Pierson and Ryan Healy. David Rickels, a native of Derby, Kansas, will have the Kansas fans behind him come June 26th. “The Caveman” is the pinnacle of a Bellator company man fighting 13 times for the promotion and sporting a 10-3 record with his losses coming against the best of best in the division like Karl Amoussou, Michael Chandler and Patricky Freire. Both men are coming off wins and are looking to use each other as a stepping stone towards bigger and better fights in the division. It will be either Rickels’ fists or Alessio’s wrestling that claim the victory here. While Rickels may have the fans in the arena, Alessio will have Canadians coast to coast cherring him on.

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Matt MacGrath hopes to add the XFFC title to go along with his ECC and Elite 1 belts (photo: Martin Blais | Aggro Photography)

Matt MacGrath hopes to add the XFFC title to go along with his ECC and Elite 1 belts (photo: Martin Blais | Aggro Photography)

4. Matt MacGrath @MattMacGrathMMA (16-8) vs. Jon Manley @JonManleyMMA (9-2)
CES MMA 29 – June 12
If there is one man in Canada no one wants to fight, it’s Matt MacGrath but luckily for MacGrath he’ll be heading south of the border to take on Jon Manley at CES MMA 29. Even luckier for MacGrath is the card is headlined by a Welterweight title fight and who knows maybe an impressive showing could earn him a shot at the winner. Matt MacGrath, who trains with the beasts at Wulfrun MMA, was always known for his fight anyone anytime mentality but too many short notice fights resulted in a not so glossy record. Fortunately for Matt, his team got him off the short notice kick and we saw a whole new MacGrath and that MacGrath is just plain scary as he has since gone 6-0 while capturing three regional titles. Jon Manley, who trains out of Team Link under Gabriel Gonzaga, is a veteran of TUF 16 on Team Roy Nelson and earned $25,000 for submission of the season. Jon fought once under the UFC banner at UFC 157, which was a decision loss to Neil Magny.  Since leaving the Octagon, he has gone 2-0 – a decision win over Mike Winters and a submission win over Brett Oteri. This bout is perfect for MacGrath and his career progression as it will be televised on AXStv and he’ll be taking on a UFC veteran. His record may not be the glossiest but a 7-0 win streak is hard for the UFC to ignore and even if the Octagon doesn’t come calling right away, a potential CES MMA title shot should.

3. Julio Arce @JArceTSMMA (7-0) vs. Michael Imperato @ImperatoMMA (7-1)
Ring of Combat 51 – June 5
Say what you will about Michael Imperato‘s antics outside the cage, it definitely has been a huge hurdle and distraction for him over the past few years, but inside the cage Imperato has performed amazingly stopping 6 of his 7 wins by of submission all within the first round. The Woodridge, Ontario native will now travel south of the border for the first time where his past digressions will be but a whisper and his record will speak much louder. In fact, his record talked him directly into a title shot for the prestigious Ring of Combat organization where he will be taking on their undefeated golden boy Julio Arce. No stranger to playing the bad guy, Imperato will be right at home with the chant of boos but standing across from him will be an opponent unlike any Michael has faced in his career. Arce, a member of Team Tiger Schulman, has an even amount of pro experience as Imperato but he also has a plethora of amateur experience dating all the way back to 2007. Imperato’s big show dreams were dashed when his past discretions were brought to light but a win over the likes of Arce and wrapping ROC gold around his waist will be a step in the right direction on the path back to big show material.

Chris Horodecki (photo: Rob Trudeau)

Chris Horodecki (photo: Rob Trudeau)

2. Lance Palmer @LancePalmer (9-1) vs. Chris Horodecki @chrishorodecki (21-5-1)
WSOF 21: Palmer vs. Horodecki – Edmonton – June 5
Long time Canadian MMA fans have been following Chris Horodecki since he was 18 years old and debuted in TKO. It’s been an up and down road for “The Polish Hammer” who’s seen success in the IFL, WEC and Bellator MMA but never was able to put together a run at a big show title.  All that changes when he meets Lance Palmer for the WSOF Featherweight strap. Horodecki earned his shot at WSOF gold by defeating the streaking Luis Huete via decision at WSOF 14 this past October.  Prior to that, Chris had dropped a close decision to Marlon Sandro last May for Bellator. Palmer, a member of Team Alpha Male, made his WSOF debut in December 2013 where he lost a decision to future Bellator challenger Georgi Karakhanyan but he rebounded in his next two outings finishing Nick LoBosco via rear naked choke and capturing the title from former champion Rick Glenn by submission last December. Horodecki will have a huge experience and striking advantage going into the championship bout but will need to counter Palmer’s grappling if he hopes to to wrap the gold belt around his waist and bring the home country crowd to their feet.

1. Smealinho Rama @SuperSmealinho (9-1) vs. Blagoi Ivanov (11-1)
WSOF 21: Palmer vs. Horodecki – Edmonton – June 5
October 4, 2013 was a bad day for Canadian Heavyweight MMA when rising prospect Smealinho Rama was KO’d in the second round by Anthony Hamilton at MFC 38. Being sent back to the drawing board did not hurt “The Prince” in fact it seemed to have made him hungrier as he went 3-0 in 2014.  In that run, he took a decision win over the highly touted Steve Mocco, blasted the former number 1 Canadian Tim Hague and finshed it off by capturing the WSOF title by finishing Derrick Mehmen in just 51 seconds. Now, with six months of shelf time, he is set to face his most dangerous foe yet in Blagoi Ivanov. The Native of Sofia, Bulgaria suffered his first career loss last May at the hands of Alexander Volkov, prior to that he had run through Bellator’s Heavyweight division taking wins over Keith Bell, Richard Hale and Lavar Johnson. Where Rama has been blasting people’s heads off, Ivanov has been tapping opponents out left and right. “The Prince” will need to shore up his submission defense in hopes of staying atop his throne.

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