Canadian Fighters Having Recent Success in Major MMA Promotions

Editorial Commentary by Peter Parsons

It’s been a successful last few weeks for some of Canada’s top MMA fighters.   At UFC 285 on Saturday, Marc-Andre Barriault capped off a three week stretch of good results for MMA fighters north of the border.  Barriault had a great performance in the opening ESPN prelim bout as he defeated Julien Marquez by second round TKO in an action packed affair.

The only loss a Canadian has had during the last three weeks in a major MMA promotion was in a rare Canada versus Canada matchup.  Below are the details of fights involving top Canadian fighters in the last three weeks.

Anthony Romero def. Tony Caruso at PFL Challengers Series on February 17

You may be familiar with the name Anthony Romero because he’s the Canadian fighter who many fans were surprised when he was not given a UFC contract on Dana White’s Contender Series after his unanimous decision victory on the show in August of 2020.

A few weeks ago, Romero had another opportunity to earn a contract in a major MMA promotion, this time with the PFL.  Again, in all too familiar fashion, Romero won a dominant unanimous decision, however, did not earn the PFL contract.  Along with the PFL contract would have come the opportunity to win one million dollars in the PFL 2023 season.  The Welland, Ontario native won a (30-26 on all three judges scorecards) unanimous decision over his Australian opponent Tony Caruso.  The Australian is a One Championship veteran and was 8-1 going into the fight.  The 26- year-old Niagara Top Team fighter Romero is now 12-1 and has gone 4-1 since winning his Contender Series Fight.

Jasmine Jasudavicius def. Gabriella Fernandes at UFC Fight Night: Muniz vs. Allen on February 25

Jasudavicius improved to 8-2 with a unanimous decision victory over her Brazilian opponent Gabriella Fernandes in a flyweight bout.  The 34-year-old Niagara Top Team product got takedowns in every round and dominated with ground and pound.  Jasudavicius is now 2-1 in the Octagon after earning a UFC contract on Dana White’s Contender Series in September of 2021.

Mike Malott def. Yohan Lainesse at UFC Fight Night: Muniz vs. Allen on February 25

Mike Malott joined Niagara Top Team teammate Jasmine Jasudavisius in the winners circle on February 25 when he defeated countryman Yohan Lainesse in the opening main card bout of UFC Fight Night: Muniz vs. Allen.  For the Quebec fighter Lainesse, he is now 9-2 overall and 1-2 in the UFC.  For Malott, on the other hand, he is now 9-1-1 overall and 2-0 in the UFC.

In Malott’s post fight interview with Michael Bisping inside the Octagon, he pleaded with the UFC to come back to Canada saying, “UFC, can we please come back to Canada.  We need it.  We need UFC in Canada.  We need to come back to Toronto…” 

Jeremy Kennedy def. Pedro Carvalho at Bellator 291: Amasov vs. Storley on February 25

The Surrey, BC native Jeremy Kennedy defeated his Portuguese opponent Pedro Carvalho in the co-main event on one of the highest profile Bellator cards of the year in Dublin, Ireland.  Not only is the Dublin crowd one of the loudest in the world, but the event was also headlined by Yaroslav Amosov who has a great story, returning after defending his home county of Ukraine in the ongoing war.  Amosov, now 27-0, was returning to defend his Bellator welterweight title against interim champ Logan Storley.

Kennedy took full advantage of his co-main event status on such a high-profile card by winning a unanimous decision over Pedro Carvalho who fights out of Dublin, Ireland for the famed SBG team.  Kennedy (19-3) is now ranked No. 2 in the Bellator featherweight rankings and could be next in line for a Bellator featherweight title shot.

Marc-Andre Barriault def. Julian Marquez at UFC 285: Jones vs. Gane on March 4

Speaking of high-profile events, Marc-Andre Barriault was fortunate to open up the ESPN prelims in a middleweight fight against Julian Marquez at UFC 285 this past Saturday.  The return of Jon Jones fighting for the heavyweight title brought a lot of eyes on the entire card.

The Gatineau, Quebec native dropped the first round to Marquez.  However, it was a fast paced first round and Barriault is known for his cardio.  “Powerbar” kept a pace in the second round that Marquez could not keep up with.  The Canadian unloaded a barrage of unanswered elbows and punches against the cage that forced referee Mark Smith to stop the fight in the second round.  It was an action-packed fight that undoubtedly won Barriault some more fans.

When will the UFC return to Canada?

Mike Malott spoke for many Canadian MMA fans in his post fight interview saying that we need the UFC back in Canada.  In my opinion it’s time for the UFC to return to Canada in the next few months.  Canada has historically been one of the top MMA markets and has the fighters to round out a high level card.  It would be good timing for all the UFC fighters mentioned above to return for their next fight in their home country.  Since Anthony Romero remains unsigned, it would be great to bring the top Canadian prospect in to make his UFC debut in his home province of Ontario.  Toronto would be the logical city for the UFC to make it’s Canadian return.

Upcoming Notable MMA Fights featuring Canadians in Major MMA Promotions

Mar 10 – Josh Hill vs. Cass Bell at Bellator 292: Nurmagomedov vs. Henderson

Mar 18 – Malcolm Gordon vs. Jake Hadley at UFC 286: Usman vs. Edwards 3

Mar 24 – Arjan Bhullar vs. Anatoly Malikhin at ONE Fight Night 8: Bhullar vs. Malykhin

Mar 31 – Randi Field vs. Ashley Cummins at Bellator 293: Golm vs. James

Mar 31 – Lance Gibson Jr vs. Vladimir Tokov at Bellator 293: Golm vs. James

Apr 7 –  Julia Budd vs. Larissa Pacheco at PFL 2: 2023 Regular Season

Apr 14 – Olivier Aubin-Mercier vs. Shane Burgos at PFL 3: 2023 Regular Season

Apr 15 – Gillian Robertson vs. Piera Rodriguez at UFC Fight Night: Holloway vs. Allen

Apr 15 – Tanner Boser vs. Ion Cutelaba at UFC Fight Night: Holloway vs. Allen

May 6 – Charles Jourdain vs. Kron Gracie at UFC 288: Sterling vs. Cejudo