Western Canada, more specifically British Columbia, has some of the most well rounded mixed martial artists on the scene. The thing with these guys, a lot of the world doesn’t get to see them. As there aren’t any television or, sometimes even, pay-per-view deals for the organizations they fight with.
Originally, I wanted to do a list ranking each fighter from one to ten. However, I don’t feel that is needed, as each of the fighters on this list could be in different positions for different reasons. So we will leave it as a basic list–of ten of the best (unranked) fighters in B.C.
With no further ado, below are the top 10 fighters in B.C.
Dylan Lielke (12-2)
Arguably the most experienced amateur in the B.C. fight scene. This kid needs to turn pro, or it’s just not all that fair to his opponents. He is the #1 ranked lightweight and featherweight in Canada at the moment, on Tapology, and this is likely due to his performance at the International Mixed Martial Arts Federation (IMMAF) 2015 World Championships. Lielke lost in the quarter-finals, and went on to win his next two fights. With his most recent a decision victory in April of this year. The Fivestar Fight League champ has one loss on his record and that was in Las Vegas against Davide Gregorio La Torre at the World Championships.
Jayden Martin (4-0)
Martin has been a part of Chris Franco’s Franco Kickboxing/Pankration (FKP) team since he was nine-years-old. Like a second child to Franco, he has turned him into a very complete fighter inside the cage. At Battlefield Fight League (BFL) 46, the man known as “Liquid Steel” proved that he is a force to be reckoned with, as he finished Keanan Kellar to capture the amateur welterweight championship. This puts his record at 4-0 and with the potential this kid has, the sky is the limit. The only thing holding Martin back seems to be injuries, those four fights on his record have taken place over a four-year span. We can only hope that the future is brighter for the FKP MMA product.
Gagan Gill (7-2)
Gill may have two blemishes on his record, but one was very early in his career, and the other was to the very dangerous Nick Ghaeni. Over the years, a ton of fights have gone by the wayside, as his opponents have pulled out. This seems to be the case for a lot of Canadian prospects. The Mamba MMA fighter hasn’t stepped inside the cage since winning the belt in 2015 against Christiaan Allaart. He made it clear that he was a top 145 pound fighter with a first round submission victory over a legit BJJ brown belt in Allaart. Gill has yet to fight in 2016, and likely won’t. So let’s hope 2017 plays in his favor a little more than this year did.
Taylor Christopher (5-1)
Christopher went from 0-1 to start his career, to a five-fight winning streak. This streak includes an impressive split-decision victory in one of the best BFL fights of 2016, against Josh Kwiatkowski, to earn the BFL amateur featherweight title. The BFL fan favourite is definitely someone to keep your eye on in 2017.
Tylor Nicholson (4-3)
Nicholson’s record may have you questioning him being on this list. But much like every other fighter in the province, Nicholson has had a problem finding opponents that will square off against him. Since 2014, the Titan MMA fighter has only stepped inside the cage once for a MMA fight. Lucky for him, it was a fight that got him on this list–a first round submission victory over Blake Sigvaldason at BFL 45. He was expected to fight at BFL 46, but unfortunately the opponent he was supposed to fight on multiple other occasions–Ali Wasuk was forced out of the bout on fight night due to commission issues.
Keanan Kellar (3-1, 1NC)
According to many of his teammates, Kellar is easily the hardest hitting fighter on this list. If he touches you clean, most likely your lights are going to be turned out. He was riding a three-fight winning streak into BFL 46 where he fought Jayden Martin. Kellar looked to control from the top position on the ground, but it wasn’t enough. The youngster is still hitting the prime of his career, and if his first four fights are any indicaiton, the fans are definitely in for a treat any time Kellar steps inside the cage.
Liam Stevenson (5-1)
Stevenson has five victories, over five very game opponents. And his lone loss came at the hands of one of Canada’s best–Saeid Mirzaei. The 29-year-old has fought for a number of different promotions throughout his amateur career. He is currently ranked #2 in Western Canada and #8 in Canada at amateur welterweight.
Ali Wasuk (3-1)
Wasuk won the vacant bantamweight title at BFL 41 in January, when he defeated Toshido MMA’s Kevin Kellerman, via unanimous decision. Wasuk has been inactive since that bout, having two fights cancelled. Both contests were expected to be against the aforementioned Nicholson, at BFL 44 and BFL 46. Wasuk has shown that he has the skill to hang with top opponents, but unfortunately for him and his fans, inactivity has kept him on the shelf.
Juan Castillo (3-0)
Being just 3-0 isn’t the craziest record we have seen, but when you get a chance to watch him inside the cage you will soon realize why Juan Castillo is something special. The lightweight began his MMA career in 2015, meaning 3-o is much more impressive than it seems. Two went to the judges scorecards and the other was second round submission. Even when his fights went to a decision, Castillo controlled the cage and kept his opponents guessing. His record has gotten him to #3 among all Western Canadian lightweights, and he is surely a name you need to keep your eye on.
Travis Lussier (6-2)
Lussier won his first four fights, and then lost to Dillan Main in 2015. The Fort St. John native bounced back from defeat, and earned himself a decision victory against Brad Laboucan at Fivestar Fight League 17 in April of this year. Lussier competed in the Canadian nationals and went 1-1. If you are in the mood to watch a scrap, then Lussier is the man for that. Each and every time he steps inside the cage you are guaranteed to see fists flying.
Saeid Mirzaei (15-3)
Mirzaei is a tough one for me, as he could easily be ranked number one on any amateur list, but he was expected to fight in his first pro contest at BFL 46. It wasn’t his fault the fight fell through. He recently signed a professional deal, disqualifying him from this list. But not from my honorable mentions. Mirzaei won the IMMAF 2015 World Championship at 205 pounds and is ranked #1 in Canada at welterweight and light heavyweight.
Jamie Smyth (3-2)
Despite being inactive for what seems like forever, heavyweight Jamie Smyth puts people to sleep inside the cage. He is always fun to watch, but because of his lack of time in the cage recently, he is not on my list, instead he is also a honorable mention.
Mike Crisp (3-1)
Not the most active fighter to step in the cage, but when he does, he is a true wrecking machine. Most recently Crisp choked out Kolten Higginbottom at BFL 35 in March 2015. He was expected to take on Billy Morrison at BFL 42 this year. However, that bout was cancelled for undisclosed reasons.
Matt Kertesz (5-2)
Kertesz may not be a name that the lower mainland fight fans know, but up north he is a beast. He has fought every fight under the Fivestar Fight League banner, other than his national stage performances. The Fort St. John fighter went 1-1 at nationals this year and most recently knocked out Will Robbins at Fivestar Fight League 17 in April 2016.