Canada is a country that punches above its weight in many sports, and martial arts is no exception. The UFC has been responsible for popularizing MMA for a wide audience, and Canadian fighters who compete in the organization are numerous. Here are some of the best that have ever fought in the UFC, and other competitions.
First up on our selection of the best and most famous Canadian MMA fighters is Patrick Côté, who hails from Rimouski in the province of Quebec. Born in 1980, Côté's martial arts interest was sparked when he was a 16 year old in the Canadian Army. Beginning with boxing before expanding into a wide range of martial arts, including Muay Thai and kickboxing, Côté's proficiency grew until he decided to take the step of entering the UFC. He only had four days' notice of his first fight, due to a previous competitor having to pull out because of injury, and faced Tito Ortiz. Although Côté lost by unanimous decision, his toughness and performance won him the respect of those behind UFC. His next two fights, against Joe Doerksen and Chris Leben were both losses but in 2006 his appearance on The Ultimate Fighter: The Comeback saw him reach the final, which he lost to Travis Lutter.
It hadn't been an ideal start to UFC for Côté, but at UFC 67 he racked up his first official UFC win over Scott Smith, and followed this up with a first round knockout of Kendall Grove at UFC 74. Two more wins on the bounce allowed Côté a shot at the Middleweight title, versus Anderson Silva. He didn't win, but did manage to become the first of Silva's adversaries to even reach the third round.
Knee injury and surgery forced an absence of a year and a half, and when Côté returned he struggled for form. A couple of losses led to a break from UFC and some independent fights, racking up a quartet of wins. Perhaps the best for Côté was winning an ill-tempered fight against Todd Brown. Côté returned to UFC to face Cung Le, and although Côté lost this bout he then enjoyed a streak of wins. By the end of his career he'd notched up 34 matches and won 23 of them.
MMA is one of the top sports for Canadians to watch and to bet on. That's partly because it's so entertaining but Canadian talent certainly doesn't hurt. One of the most famous Canadian MMA fighters is undoubtedly TJ Grant. His introduction to martial arts was at the age of 15, when he began training in Brazilian Jiujitsu and wrestling. The latter saw him become provincial wrestling champion on three occasions (2001-2 and 2004). His professional MMA career started in 2007, and his impressive winning record (13-2) won him the attention of, and a contract with, the UFC.
Grant's first fight in UFC was against experience Japanese competitor Ryo Chonan. To the surprise of many, Grant managed to win, albeit in a split decision victory. His next half dozen bouts or so saw him winning roughly half of them, with one of his best moments coming courtesy of a first round TKO over Kevin Burns that was deemed worthy of being named Knockout of the Night at UFC 107.
Another highlight of his career was besting Evan Dunham at UFC 152 and scooping the $65,000 Fight of the Night bonus (along with Dunham). Grant's first round TKO of Gray Maynard earned him a shot at the UFC Lightweight title, but his planned encounter with reigning champion Benson Henderson was not to be, as injury forced him out. In the end, that was to be the end of his MMA career, with injuries preventing another fight and Grant citing debt and the fear of incurring more as the prime reason behind him walking away from UFC. His professional career had seen him compete on 26 occasions, winning 21 times.
He doesn't have quite the winning record of the fighters below, but Joe Doerksen might just take the title of most tenacious Canadian MMA fighter, able to rack up a huge number of bouts during his career which spanned a decade and a half and covered a multitude of different leagues. This longevity made him a favourite to watch, and his record made him a pretty good bet at the best online casinos. Doerksen's career began with a bang, winning his first three bouts in a row in 1999, before losing (by submission) to veteran fighter Eugene Jackson. He also lost in the second round to Matt Hughes in the same year.
His UFC debut was a second round loss to Joe Riggs in UFC 49, but he bounced back and in his next fight took out Patrick Côté by means of a rear naked choke submission. After another couple of losses, Doerksen moved on to World Extreme Cagefighting, losing to PRIDE veteran Paulo Filho before returning to UFC.
After suffering KO and TKO losses in UFC to Ed Herman and Jason MacDonald respectively, Doerksen was let go. Perhaps the break was just what he needed, because he embarked on a string of wins, starting off by a TKO against Izuru Takeuchi as part of the World Victory Road promotion. This talented Canadian MMA fighter then entered the Canadian Fighting Championship 2 and defeated Gregory Babene by submission, and followed this up with a KO win (back in the World Victory Road) over Takenori Sato. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this purple patch saw him return, again, to UFC. Doerksen met Tom Lawlor in UFC 113 and won via submission in round two. However, he lost his next two fights and decided to retire from MMA. His professional record shows that he won 51 of his 67 matches.
Another of the most famous Canadian MMA fighters is Rory MacDonald, a native of British Columbia. MacDonald's first steps down the MMA road started at 14, training with David Lea, and just two years later he made his professional debut. It was a strong start, winning in the first round by means of a rear naked choke. MacDonald followed this up in his entry to the King of the Cage (KOTC) in the best possible way, enjoying victory over Ken Tran for a perfect start. This led to MacDonald signing an exclusive contract with KOTC and earned him a shot at the Canadian Lightweight title against Kajan Johnson. Once again, MacDonald ended up on top, with a second round knockout and a title as his prize. He moved up to Welterweight, and his winning record (nine victories with no losses) drew the attention of the UFC. In 2010 MacDonald entered UFC Fight Night 20, up against Mike Guymon. Would his winning record survive the transition to UFC? It was a tough (but short) match, and after getting dropped by a right hook MacDonald went on to win a first round armbar submission. However, at UFC 115 MacDonald finally lost, via third round TKO to Carlos Condit. Agonizingly for MacDonald, there were just seconds on the clock and had he made it the victory would've been his by the scorecard.
Although some of his subsequent scheduled fights had to be skipped for injuries, MacDonald continued his winning ways within UFC, excepting a rare split decision defeat to Robbie Lawler in UFC 167. He faced Lawler again in a rematch staged at UFC 189, but couldn't do any better, taking a TKO in the fifth round despite having performed well against practically every other opponent. It may or may not be a consolation to MacDonald that many consider the fight to be a Welterweight classic in UFC history, thanks to the pendulum swinging to and fro throughout. His next bout was against Stephen Thompson, which he also lost.
Switching to Bellator MMA, MacDonald boldly pronounced his aspiration to take both the Welterweight and Middleweight titles. He started well, winning his first bouts, and earnt himself the chance to challenge Bellator MMA Welterweight Champion Douglas Lima, winning the back-and-forth match to make good on the first half of his ambitious target. MacDonald's fight against Gegard Mousasi for the Bellator Middleweight Championship went less well, and he lost it by technical knockout in the second round. A year after defeating Lima, his opponent returned the favour and reclaimed the title. In December 2019 MacDonald shifted from Bellator to the Professional Fighters League, though fighting has been minimal due to the pandemic. His professional record is 29 matches with 22 wins and he has frequently been a favorite at sportbooks like Betway Casino.
When considering the leading Canadian fighters in MMA, there's one name that's at the top of pretty much every list, and that's Georges St. Pierre. Not only is he considered to be among the best MMA fighters from Canada, he's also generally viewed as one of the best competitors the sport has ever seen. He is also the official partner of Bet99 Casino. St. Pierre's career highlights include thrice being the UFC Welterweight champion and winning the Middleweight title upon his return to the ring. This achievement made him only the fourth man to be a champion in multiple divisions of the UFC. Saint-Pierre was born in Saint-Isidore, in Quebec, and unfortunately had something of a rough childhood with other kids regularly stealing money from him. Always a sporty child, his hobbies included hockey and skating, and he soon took up Kyokushin Karate, which his father taught him from the age of seven. As he developed, Saint-Pierre started learning more martial arts from a master instructor, and when his Karate teacher passed away (Saint-Pierre was 16) he broadened his horizons and started learning wrestling, boxing, and Brazilian Jiujitsu.
Before he began his mixed martial arts career, Saint-Pierre's day job was a night club bouncer. In January 2004 he made his debut at UFC 46 and made a running start, defeating the highly regarded Karo Parisyan (by unanimous decision). The momentum was maintained with his second bout, which took less than two minutes for Saint-Pierre to win by technical knockout. The third fight was rather rougher, with a loss in 10 seconds, tapping out to Matt Hughes. After that, Saint-Pierre embarked on a streak of impressive wins, earning himself a contest against Sean Sherk at UFC 56, becoming only the second fighter to defeat him. He faced Hughes again at UFC 65 for the UFC Welterweight Championship, and took it in round two via technical knockout. Having suffered his first loss to Hughes in just 10 seconds, the result was a great one for Saint-Pierre, who both won the Welterweight title and banished that particular demon.
It was 2007 when he won that title, and also when he met his match for a second time. This year, at UFC 69, Matt Serra took the title from Saint-Pierre who took a series of strikes without response. Why the sudden dip in form? Saint-Pierre attributed it to outside difficulties, including his father suffering a serious illness. At UFC 74 he bounced back and won a unanimous, albeit close, decision over Josh Koscheck before facing Hughes once again (for the Welterweight title on an interim basis, Serra being injured and unable to fight). This was just a stepping stone on the way to defeating Serra at UFC 83, the first such event to be held in Canada, winning the fight in just two rounds. His success continued, but he left MMA in 2013, albeit with the possibility of returning. Saint-Pierre eventually came back, after much contract negotiation, in 2017, stepping up to fight UFC Middleweight Champion Michael Bisping. It had been almost four years since his last bout, but it was as if the sabbatical had never happened, Saint-Pierre winning in three rounds by technical submission to take the Middleweight title. Medical problems prevented a title defence, and Saint-Pierre announced in February 2019 that he was retiring.
And there we have it, some of the most famous Canadian MMA fighters to ever compete in the UFC and other organizations. Will Canada ever produce a fighter as skilled as Georges St. Pierre again? Witih so many athletes around the country, we like to think it's just a matter of time before another Canadian is the champ.