In June 2023, at the mixed martial arts (MMA) Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) 289, Canada had a perfect evening. A clean sweep by all five fighters at UFC 289 in Vancouver set the tone for the future of Canadian mixed martial arts. 

On January 20, fans came out in droves to the Scotiabank Arena for UFC 297, vocalizing their support in screaming cheers for the home country fighters. Yet, even with victories from Jasmine Jasudavicius and Gillian Robertson, the narrative after Saturday wasn’t nearly as positive as it was back in June.

Jasmine Jasudavicius

Jasudavicius had a dominant performance last June, really showing out for Canadian fans. She hoped to replicate her performance in Toronto, but she ran into turmoil during fight week. Her opponent Priscila Cachoeira struggled to make the agreed-upon 126-pound weight limit before the fight. 

The fighters initially moved the bout’s weight limit to 130 pounds, yet facing the risk of cancellation, both agreed to increase the limit again to 136 pounds after Cachoeira again couldn’t make the agreed-upon weight. “[If] we make it 132 or 133 and then she misses weight, the Ontario commission might just be like nah, the fight’s not happening,” Jasudavicius explained.

Even with all the allowances Cachoeira was given, Jasudavicius put on one of her best performances to date. Jasudavicius dominated in all three rounds, finding great success in both striking and takedowns, and threatening submission. Round three completed the clinic, with Jasudavicius ending the bout with a d’arce choke. The match was an incredible performance by Jasudavicius in one of the most one-sided performances you’ll ever see. 

Jasudavicius defeated Cachoeira in a dominant match. AHMAD KHAN/THE VARSITY

Gillian Robertson

Gillian Robertson faced Polyana Viana in a strawweight bout that showcased her grappling ability. The Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt easily took Viana down early in round one. Robertson secured several takedowns on Viana, landing a variety of strikes while threatening submissions. Viana continued to take a pummeling, courtesy of Robertson’s right hand, until officials had to stop the bout in the second round. 

“I wanted to cry out of happiness, I was so excited to be here,” shared Robertson in a post-win press conference. The support she received from fans was pivotal for her performance, feeding off the crowd’s energy and earning her second TKO victory.

Mike ‘Proper’ Malott

Mike ‘Proper’ Malott’s last win came in Vancouver, where he submitted Adam Fugitt in a guillotine choke, completing Canada’s sweep. Seen as the country’s best chance at capturing UFC gold, he was quickly dubbed as Canada’s “next big rising” star. Such expectations come with pressure, but, from experience, if you asked Malott about that, he would respond: “What pressure, dude?” 

During fight week, Malott spoke to The Varsity about his expectations for Saturday night. “I’m going to have 20,000 people chanting for me and screaming my name,” he said. “That’s privilege, not pressure.” He shared that he felt empowered by the support he was receiving and was adamant he wouldn’t lose focus on his goal. “This is something I’ve spent the last 20 years preparing to do,” he said. 

Mike Malott has been dubbed Canada’s “next big rising” star. AHMAD KHAN/THE VARSITY

On Saturday’s fight against Neil Magny, Malott opened strong with the crowd chanting his name. He banked two rounds dominantly, with a flurry of calf kicks in the first and a strong ground game in the second. The third round was more of the same, yet after a takedown by Malott, Magny got back to his feet and landed a takedown of his own. Magny transitioned to back mount, pouring down shots on an exhausted Malott before officials stopped the bout in Magny’s favour in the final round. 

Marc-André Barriault

Like Malott, Marc-André Barriault’s last win came at UFC 289 with a unanimous decision over Eryk Anders. During the week, he hoped to break into the top 15 with a win over 14th-ranked welterweight Chris Curtis. 

Unfortunately, his plans faltered on Saturday. The first two rounds were lacklustre, as boos echoed around the arena, with both fighters having low output. The last round saw both fighters step on the gas. Soon after Curtis landed punishing shots to Barriault’s body, both fought in the pocket, exchanging hooks and uppercuts to the head and body. As the final bell rang, it was a toss-up for who won. To the disappointment of Canadian fans, Curtis got the nod. 

Serhiy Sidey

Serhiy Sidey made his UFC debut this Saturday. It was the culmination of a professional career that began in 2018 at Burlington Training Center Fight Promotions. “I just had to put in the hard work, get one per cent better every single day,” Sidey explained when The Varsity asked about his journey. He faced Ramon Taveras in a rematch of a controversial bout that happened late last year on Dana White’s contender series — many fans believed that Taveras suffered an early stoppage after Sidey connected with a straight right. 

At UFC 297, Sidey sought to kill all doubts about his performance. But all that awaited him was more controversy. A gruelling back and forth left fans with the same questions they entered with. Taveras took the first round, but round two saw the fight turn into a full-fledged war, as Sidey’s face turned battered, bruised, and bloody. 

Despite the visual, two of the three judges had scored the bout evenly going into the third round, after Sidey forced Taveras onto the backfoot. The two continued to exchange over the final five minutes, but ultimately, Sidey lost in a split decision that the fans believed he won, possibly setting up a trilogy in the future.

Charles Jourdain

Charles Jourdain finally got his chance to fight on home soil this past Saturday. A featherweight fighter with 15 wins to his name, the Montréal native sought to continue the win streak that began last year.

During fight week, Jourdain explained to The Varsity how evolving his game has involved growing more mature as a fighter. “There’s some risk that you can take when there’s an opportunity for it, but those opportunities come [on their own time], don’t try to chase them too much,” he said. The key to becoming a better mixed martial artist was understanding how to get better at winning. “If you’re ahead, you don’t need to do that spinning heel kick that might get you down,” he added.

Two spinning heel kicks later, Jourdain found himself down one round against Sean Woodson. Despite his struggles, Jourdain continued to push forward. However, the reach of the 6’2 featherweight kept Jourdain at bay, forcing him to flurry to close the distance but struggling to land clean. Following the final bell, controversy struck again, as Woodson won by split decision — though the confused crowd seemed to believe that Jourdain’s name had been read.

Brad Katona

Brad Katona won the Ultimate Fighter for the first time in 2018 but was released by the UFC after going 2–2 in his four bouts. Katona went to Brave CF following his departure, winning and defending their bantamweight championship, before returning to The Ultimate Fighter and winning once again. 

“It was definitely the hard road, going over to Brave, fighting the killers that they had,” he told The Varsity. Yet, facing the tough opposition that he did in Brave gave him confidence for his UFC return. “I’m like a fine wine, I get better over time,” he said. 

He faced Garrett Armfield in a competitive bout. Katona had success late in the rounds, getting the better of his opponent in the grappling exchanges. But Armfield’s boxing overshadowed those exchanges, and ultimately the fight ended with the first unanimous decision victory of the night in favour of him.


The women fighters seized the moment at UFC 297, taking advantage of the home crowd and producing dominant victories. Both fighters earned the Performance of The Night award, reaping the rewards for their outstanding performances. While the remaining Canadian fighters struggled all night, there was still light at the end of the tunnel — all the decision losses were tight and, early on, Malott was commanding in the ring. Overall, the future for Canadian MMA is still bright: this event saw a pair of fantastic victories, and a few lessons for those who suffered unfortunate defeats.