UFC Fight Night: Halifax
It's finally happening, the UFC is coming to the Maritimes!
The #1 mixed martial arts promotion in the world is no stranger to putting on shows in Canada but they have never planned a show for the East Coast until now; a UFC Fight Night card in Halifax, Nova Scotia on October 4th.
The obvious person of interest for this card is #3-ranked contender, TJ Grant. Grant, who boasts a 5-fight win streak in the Octagon, most recently scored a first-round TKO victory over 2x title challenger Gray Maynard in May. The impressive performance earned Grant a UFC title shot against then-champion, Benson Henderson. The fight, which was expected to take place last August at UFC 164, ended up going on without Grant as he had to pull out due to a concussion suffered in training. Anthony Pettis took Grant's place and dethroned Henderson with a first round armbar.
In his first title defense, Pettis was expected to face Grant on a FOX card in December but both fighters ended up pulling out. Pettis due to injury and Grant because he had yet to fully heal from his concussion. It is unknown when Grant will return, but the fighter is optimistic about making his return on the Halifax card. Grant, who was present during the press conference which announced the Canadian locations, made a statement about his potential return.
"Even if I had to sit on the shelf a little while longer just to fight on that card, that would be ideal circumstances," said Grant. "Halifax is home and I haven’t had the opportunity to fight there for a long time. It couldn’t get any better than that."
Assuming Grant could make the card, which is still over 8 months away, he would most likely be in the main-event against another top lightweight contender, or at the very least, the co-main. Other Canadians who could conceivably headline the card are 4th-ranked welterweight contender Rory MacDonald, and former title contender and TUF: Nations coach, Patrick Cote, although the latter is quite unlikely due to him being unranked at this time.
Aside from Grant, there are a few other Canadians who have a high-chance of being booked for this card and as such, I'll list them below. My reasoning for predicting the following fighters are simply because of their ties to the Maritimes. The UFC has shown time and time again that they love to book hometown fighters, or anyone born even close to the location.
1) John "The Bull" Makdessi [12-2] - Lightweight
Born in Halifax, Nova Scotia and fighting out of Laval, Quebec, Makdessi has a 5-2 record inside the Octagon. Currently riding a 3-fight win streak with wins over Sam Stout, Daron Cruickshank and Renee Forte, he'll look to continue this streak this Saturday when he meets Alan Patrick at UFC 169. Win or lose, you can bet there is a good chance you'll see Makdessi fight in Halifax.
2) Ryan "Big Deal" Jimmo [18-3] - Light Heavyweight
Ranked the best Light Heavyweight in the country, "Big Deal" made his UFC debut at UFC 149 in July, 2012 where he knocked out veteran Anthony Perosh in only 7 seconds! Despite fighting out of Alberta, Jimmo was born in Saint John, New Brunswick and is no stranger to Nova Scotia, having fought in the province 4 times in his career. The win over Persoh was the last of his 17-fight win streak which was snapped after a competitive decision loss to James Te Huna. He rebounded with a win over Igor Pokrajac before getting injured in a bout against Jimi Manuwa.
3) Matt DesRoches [4-0] - Welterweight
A member of the current TUF Nations: Canada vs. Australia, DesRoches boasts an undefeated 4-0 record, with all of his victories coming by stoppage. Although lacking experience, DesRoches is the only Maritimer on the Canadian team, fighting out of Cornwall, Prince Edward Island. Given this, even if he fails to become a finalist, I could easily see the UFC signing him for a preliminary fight to garner local interest as they've done it with plenty of other TUF fighters in the past.
And as with any new location, the UFC is more than open to signing fighters from the fight town, even if only for just 1 fight. To conclude this article, I will name two fighters who I believe have the best chance of getting picked up for this card.
Possible Fighters to be Signed for the Card
A top-ranked Featherweight in Canada, Tristan Johnson most notably fought on the short-lived, Canadian MMA promotion, Score Fighting Series. He went 3-1 with wins over Will Romero (x2) and Lyndon Whitlock.
And most importantly, he trains out of Fit Plus MMA, the same gym as TJ Grant.
2) *Roger "The Hulk" Hollett [13-5] - Light Heavyweight
Roger Hollett is a special case. He is a former MFC Light Heavyweight Champion and came into the UFC with a 13-3 record. Starting off UFC 152's main card, he faced Matt Hamill and lost a unanimous decision to the talented wrestler. In his next UFC outing he travelled to Brazil to face Brazilian Fabio Maldonado, who was on a 3-fight losing streak at the time, and he lost another unanimous decision. He was released of his contract, and he hasn't fought since that loss to Maldonado in May. Its unlikely that the UFC signs him, especially since he has yet to fight since that loss. But seeing as it is in Halifax, Hollett's hometown, and that he is a well-known fighter in the community, it's possible the UFC signs him for another fight.
Who would YOU like to see make an appearance on this card?