The UFC returns to British Columbia for the fourth time Saturday night as UFC on FOX 21 emanates from the Rogers Arena in Vancouver. With standout fighters like Carlos Condit, Anthony Pettis and Paige VanZant, it’s easy to forget all the Canadian talent competing at this event. Highlighted by three newly-signed Canadians, there are a total of six athletes representing the Great White North on this event.
Jeremy Kennedy (Surrey, B.C) vs. Alex Ricci (Woodbridge, Ont.)
Not since 2014’s UFC Fight Night: Bisping vs. Kennedy event have we seen two Canadian’s make their UFC debuts against each other, but that’s what will happen when Kennedy and Ricci meet. Kennedy (8-0) is the former Battlefield Fight League featherweight champion and one of three fighters representing B.C. on his card (Shane Campbell and Ryan Janes being the other two). He faces a tough assignment by moving up to lightweight and battling late replacement Alex Ricci.
Kennedy, known as “JBC (Junior Bacon Cheeseburger)” is no stranger to the UFC as he tried out for Season 22 of The Ultimate Fighter but didn’t end up as one of the hopefuls for that season of the longstanding reality TV series. The Revolution MMA product boasts five career stoppage victories and heads into this matchup off a unanimous decision victory over Drew Brokenshire at BFL 43 back in May. He regularly trains with current ONE Championship title holder Bibiano Fernandes, but switched things up this camp by going to Kelowna to train at Rory MacDonald’s former gym Toshido MMA. The majority of his fights have taken place in Canada, but he also picked up some experience competing three times in Thailand in 2014.
Ricci (10-3) replaces Team Alpha Male product Josh Emmett who had to withdraw from this fight due to injury. The 34-year-old is coming off a unanimous decision victory over Kieran Joblin at Triumph FC 1 back in April and heads into this matchup off back-to-back victories. Of his three career losses, two are to UFC veterans Darrell Horcher and Jesse Ronson. He was slated to compete in a rematch against Kyle Prepolec earlier this year at Global Warriors 3, however that event ended up being cancelled.
Ryan Janes (Victoria, B.C.) vs. Adam Hunter (Fredericton, N.B.)
Janes (8-1) is originally from Newfoundland but has called ZUMA Martial Arts in Victoria, B.C. home for quite some time. The 34-year-old trains with the likes of former Strikeforce champion Sarah Kaufman and Canadian standouts Alexi Argyriou and Tyler Dolby. A graphic designer for the provincial government by day, Janes boasts seven career victories by submission and hasn’t lost a fight since 2009. Hunter (8-1) was born in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., but has called Fredericton home for the majority of his adult life. He currently resides in Ottawa where he retired from the Canadian military last year. The 32-year-old punched his ticket to the UFC earlier this year by knocking out UFC veteran Chris Dempsey in 40 seconds and heads into this matchup on a seven-fight win streak. It will be interesting to see who sets the pace early as Hunter has fought twice this year while Janes hasn’t competed since July 2015.
Shane Campbell (Kelowna, B.C.) vs. Felipe Silva
Former W.K.A. Muay Thai World Champion Campbell is in dire need of a victory as he takes on undefeated Brazilian Silva. Campbell (10-5) has gone 1-3 in the UFC but has faced stiff competition in losses to John Makdessi, James Krause and Erik Koch. Originally from St. Catharines, Ont., Campbell now trains at Toshido MMA with former UFC welterweight Matt Dwyer. Silva (7-0) makes his UFC debut and punched his ticket to the big show with a win over UFC veteran Anton Kuivanen in his last fight back in May. The 28-year-old Canadian has a great opportunity to get back on the winning track in the province he now calls home, but should he suffer another setback expect the UFC to release the talented striker.
Chad Laprise (Chatham, Ont.) vs. Thibault Gouti
TUF Nations winner Laprise looks to snap a two-fight skid as he battles French fighter Gouti. Laprise (10-2) is originally from Chatham but now calls Montreal home. He moved there two years ago to train full time at Tristar Gym. If you believe in MMA math then Laprise should win this matchup. The 30-year-old defeated Olivier Aubin-Mercier in 2014 and Mercier just defeated Gouti in his last fight at UFC Fight Night 89 back in June. Gouti (11-2) was eliminated from TUF 22 but was signed to the promotion earlier this year. He’s 0-2 and, like Laprise, Gouti needs to win this matchup for job security.
Here’s a full look at the UFC on FOX 21 fight card from Vancouver:
— Carlos Condit (30-9) vs. Demian Maia (23-6)
— Anthony Pettis (18-5) vs. Charles Oliveira (21-5)
— Paige VanZant (6-2) vs. Bec Rawlings (7-4)
— Joe Lauzon (26-11) vs. Jim Miller (26-8)
— Sam Alvey (27-8) vs. Kevin Casey (9-4-1)
— Chad Laprise (10-2) vs. Thibault Gouti (11-2)
— Enrique Barzola (11-2-1) vs. Kyle Bochniak (6-1)
— Shane Campbell (12-5) vs. Felipe Silva (7-0)
— Jeremy Kennedy (8-0) vs. Alex Ricci (10-3)
— Garreth McLellan (13-4) vs. Alessio Di Chirico (9-1)
— Adam Hunter (7-1) vs. Ryan Janes (8-1)