MMA ROUND-UP: Canada’s newest UFC prospect; Rumours about a return to the North? 

Sidey’s rise and journalist Martin’s takes

Serhiy Sidey after earning his UFC contract on Dana White's Contender Series. // Courtesy of Serhiy Sidey. 

A year that saw Canadians go a perfect 5-0 on their first home card since 2019 continues to produce for the True North. 

The first six seasons of Dana White’s Contender Series produced four Canadian UFC fighters: Jasmine Jasudavicius, Mike Malott, Slava Borshchev, and Yohan Lainesse. 

Season Seven has already added one more to the list. 

Canada’s newest UFC prospect

Episode Five of this season introduced the world to its next Canadian hard-hitter, Serhiy Sidey.

A 5-foot-11 bantamweight, Sidey found himself up against American finisher Ramon Taveras, who is 8-1. 

Fighting out of Jacksonville, Fla., he was coming off three consecutive finishes, two of which came in the first round.

The Canadian, known for ending fights before the final bell himself, beat Taveras at his own game. 

“I beat [him] at the point where he’s most dangerous,” Sidey said, on an internet call. “He’s a fast-twitch, explosive fighter, but I was able to beat him in his own element.” 

Despite the stoppage win, that’s not what the Ukrainian-Canadian prides himself on as a fighter. 

“I’m a smart, intellectual fighter,” he says. “But I’m a pressure fighter as welI … I pride myself on having an unlimited gas tank where I can push the pace. I’ve done a 25-minute fight and it was a breeze for me.” 

Mental presence has been just as influential on Sidey as the physical, the fighter citing his mindfulness as one of his strongest traits. 

“On fight day, it’s been a routine that I wake up in the morning, I do meditation, I sit down, drink my water, and I journal down key concepts, key ideas, key phrases,” he says. “I’ll re-read it over and over again throughout the day anytime I get nervous or get a little anxiety.” 

Three fights under his belt this calendar year, the bantamweight has picked up his activity this year. 

MMA is a demanding sport, and Sidey admits that he has no time to waste. 

“I love fighting, but this is not something I want to do for the rest of my life,” he says. “I wanna fight, get my wins, and see how far I can get in this sport, but there’s a life outside of fighting … right now I’m healthy, I’m getting better every day, and I want to keep the momentum rolling.”

Adding to the excitement of his momentum are rumours surrounding the UFC’s return to Toronto in early 2024. 

“That would be a dream come true,” Sidey says. “The last show they were there … I couldn’t see one empty seat and I visualized me walking out on that stage and now there’s a really, really good possibility of that being my next fight which excites me a lot.” 

UFC Toronto becoming a reality? 

UFC 289, this June, was a raging success for the city of Vancouver and the country of Canada. 

It was the first UFC event held in the true north after the COVID-19 pandemic, the last one being a UFC Fight Night in September 2019. 

Five Canadians fought with the crowd behind them, and five had their arm raised with their country’s flag behind them. 

Canadian MMA journalist Adam Martin believes Scotiabank Arena will be home to the UFC’s first pay-per-view of next year.

“What I’ve heard is they’re looking at Leon Edwards vs Colby Covington for the Toronto card,” Martin says. “January 20 … I believe they’re waiting for the opening at Scotiabank Arena, that’s what I’ve heard.” 

With a shared venue, finding the opening is the biggest challenge. 

In the case of Scotiabank Arena, Jan. 20 is the only Saturday without a Toronto Raptors or Toronto Maple Leafs game until Feb. 24. 

Whenever the card does happen, it will surely have just as much home representation as the last.

“I just expect the card to have pretty much every Canadian on the roster [who’s available],” says Martin. 

In a time where Australia has the likes of Israel Adesanya and Alexander Volkanovski, and England has Leon Edwards and Tom Aspinall, Canada struggles with a standout star. 

There is no Georges St-Pierre or Rory MacDonald anymore; even Olivier Aubin-Mercier has moved on to PFL.

“We have 15 [Canadians] on the roster, but can you name all of them?” Martin asks. “I honestly can’t right now off the top of my head … that’s a problem.” 

At UFC 289 in Vancouver, the marquee Canadian fighter was Mike Malott. 

While he is on the road to becoming a household name, the welterweight isn’t even top 15 in his division yet. 

Canadian pride was on full display in British Columbia, but who or what is going to be the selling point for this rumoured January card? 

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Posted: Sep 15 2023 4:08 pm
Filed under: Sports