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Canadian MMA fans: pound for pound champs

Image of Georges St. Pierre courtesy of 

Figure skating, hockey and curling aren’t the only sports that put Canada on the map. The Great White North has emerged as one of the best countries for mixed martial arts, behind Brazil, the U.S. and Japan.

Brazil’s Gracie clan can be credited for beginning the modern mixed martial arts challenge, and Brazil has the most high quality competitors per capita. No one can argue with Japan’s great history of karate, Judo and catch wrestling, and mixed martial arts, holding tournaments  like Shooto that predated the UFC. The U.S.A. is unquestionably the marketing machine on the  factory floor from which the UFC as we know it was assembled.

Framing Canada’s reputation: current fighters like longtime welterweight champion and top three pound-for-pound Georges St. Pierre; stellar featherweight Mark Hominick and lightweight Sam Stout; pioneers Dave Beneteau and Harold Howard, who fought in the first UFCs back in the 90s.

But Canada’s true street cred in the world of MMA is the fan base.

Toronto has been one of the top PPV buys for the UFC for years, in spite of the fact the sport was banned in Ontario until recently.  Toronto’s UFC 129  has the record for live gate receipts. Montreal and Vancouver have had the record for fastest sellout. In the end, it’s about money, so Dana White and the UFC are indeed fond of Canada.

Canada’s solid fan base spurred Showdown Joe Ferraro’s UFC Connected, TV’s best MMA show by a country mile. Ferraro never fails to spotlight Canuck talent and their accomplishments at every level. He is also one of the most knowledgeable persons covering the sport, having completed referee Big John McCarthy’s courses on refereeing and scoring. In true Canadian fashion, he is one of the most likeable and respected figures surrounding the sport.

More great Canadian fighters past and present: Vancouver’s Lance Gibson fought in UFC 24 and 29, and currently helps train Rampage Jackson. You can see his Hummer tooling around Vancouver; Gary 'Big Daddy' Goodridge, from Barrie Ontario, fought three times in UFC 8, and had one of the most amazing finishes, against wrestler Paul Hererra, using a move I call ‘The Accordion’; Jason MacDonald is a submission wizard and a great ambassador for the sport, who lives and trains in Alberta; Quesnel-born Rory MacDonald is one of the first UFC fighters to begin as a true mixed martial artist rather than a specialist. GSP has called Rory a top prospect at lightweight; Rimouski’s Patrick Cote is a stubbornly tough fighter who was the first to take champion Anderson Silva to round three; Torontonian Mark Bocek is a BJJ black belt; Denis Kang’s career began in 1998 at the Ultimate Warrior Challenge in Vancouver;  Chris 'The Polish Hammer' Horodecki’s 18-3-1 record denotes his natural skills and work ethic---he is one of the most entertaining fighters to watch; Newmarket’s Carlos Newton was a pioneer of mixed martial arts as we know it today, not as it was in 1996 when he had his first pro fight. He was  one of the first UFC champions, at welterweight; Quebec’s David 'The Crow' Loiseau lost a five round title fight to Rich Franklin in 2006; Ivan Salaverrys ‘The Salaverry’ is a crucifix position this stellar martial artist perfected. He hails from  The Big Smoke; Polish born Krzystof Soszyński was raised in The Peg and became known for his kimura, his perfectly smooth skullcap and  intricate tats covering otherwise bone-white skin.

Canadian mixed martial artists come from coast to coast, have fought for and owned belts with the biggest of the big---The UFC---and come with more than their share of charisma and talent. No wonder the country's fans are the best.

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