UFC Fight Night 54 Preview

ufc_fn54The UFC will travel to the East Coast in the second of a double-header on Saturday when they go farther east then they have ever been in North America. Halifax, Nova Scotia will play host to the UFC for the first time ever as they host UFC Fight Night 54. As usual when the UFC travels to a new place they bring out as big a card as they can and what better way to say hello to Halifax than to bring along the biggest Canadian fighter in the UFC. With Georges St. Pierre taking a leave of absence and still recuperating from a second ACL tear a ew Canadian star has emerged. It is fitting too that this new star is also a welterweight from Tri-Star Gym in Montreal. Rory MacDonald was one of the youngest fighters in the UFC when he joined the promotion in 2011 and even then there was a lot expected of him. At only 21 years old many expected MacDonald to a be future champion with his fast rise more of a sure bet than a probability. He made good on all of the hype surrounding him as his size and athleticism helped him to a submission win in his first UFC fight. It showed all of the promise that MacDonald came into the UFC with but it all came to a screeching halt against Carlos Condit with a KO loss. It was a wake-up call to MacDonald who used the opportunity to move from British Columbia to Quebec and join Tri-Star Gym, home of welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre. The move proved to pay-off as MacDonald went on a five-fight win streak after the move becoming a true contender in the division. Yet he could never quite get to the top of the division and with his teammate sitting as the unbeatable champion it may have never happened. A chance emerged though as in 2013 he was slated to fight Robbie Lawler with the winner getting a shot at the vacated title after GSP took a leave of absence and gave up his belt. MacDonald could not take advantage though losing to Lawler and losing his title shot and a shot at keep the belt in Montreal. The loss did not deter the Canadian though as he came back with straight wins against Demian Maia and Tyron Woodley that has given him the #2 spot in the division. He now enters his first headline event as he takes on the pressure of fighting at home with everyone coming to see him win. He has never been in this position before as he has been left to carry the torch of Canadian MMA that is a tough task with the previous holder being the long-time welterweight champion. Beyond the pressure of fighting in his home country as the headliner, MacDonald also must defend his #2 spot with Lawler and Hendricks set to face-off in December. If he can keep his spot he will be in perfect spot to earn the title shot he has been working for but he will have to get by Tarec Saffiedine to get there. Saffiedine has been on his own hot streak since 2011 when he began a four-fight win streak in Strikeforce. That streak reached five straight wins when he beat Hyun Gyu Lim in his UFC debut. Now he sits at the #9 spot in the division looking to take out #2 and prove that his streak in Strikeforce was no fluke. The matchup will pit a very well-rounded athletic fighter against a dangerous striker. That could mean bad news for MacDonald whose two losses in the UFC came against dangerous strikers. MacDonald will likely look to show off his ever improving BJJ in this fight while Saffiedine will try to keep the fight standing and earn a KO against one of the best fighters in the division. The fight will be a close one but in the end the better, well-rounded fighter will come out on top as MacDonald gets the fans excited via second round submission win.

As the biggest Canadian name in the UFC right now headlines the fight there will be some new stars looking to make an impact on the UFC in their first official UFC action. Elias Theodorou and Chad Laprise will enter the octagon for the first time under their new contracts that they won as a part of TUF Nations. Earlier in the year both fighters entered the UFC after winning the latest version of the show’s international series that pitted Canadians against Australians. The show ended in a sweep for Canadians who represented the final four spots in the finale with Theodorou and Laprise coming out on top to win UFC contracts. Now they begin their careers in earnest with their first fights outside of the show. Theodorou will take on Bruno Santos in a matchup of wrestler and submission specialist. In the fight Theodorou will likely look to grind out the win as he has great cardio that frustrates others while he will also try to stay away from a ground technician that is better than him on the ground. Laprise will face Yosdenis Cedeno in a matchup of two well-rounded fighters. Standing is where Laprise will want to keep the fight though as he has a good striking game while Cedeno has a better ground game. Both Theodorou and Laprise will get their first real chance at making an impact in the UFC. With MacDonald now carrying Canadian MMA, at least until St. Pierre returns, Laprise and Theodorou are hoping to become a part of the rising stars from Canada that can make an impact in the promotion and help to prove that without GSP the sport is alive and well north of the boarder. There is plenty of pressure on these two fighters and the rest of the Canadians on the card as the UFC travels to a brand new city trying to make an impact. There is no better way to do that than for the crowd to see their native fighters win fights but now it comes down to the fighters to accomplish that as they face off in Halifax for the first time ever.


Fight Card

Main Card:
Rory “Ares” MacDonald vs. Tarec “Sponge” Saffiedine (Sportsnet 360/Fox Sports 1)

Main Card:
Raphael Assunção vs. Bryan “Kid Lightning” Carraway (Sportsnet 360/Fox Sports 1)

Yosdenis “Pink Panther” Cedeno vs. Chad Laprise (Sportsnet 360/Fox Sports 1)

Elias “The Spartan” Theodorou vs. Bruno “Cariaco” Santos (Sportsnet 360/Fox Sports 1)

Mitch “The Machine” Gagnon vs. Rob Font (Sportsnet 360/Fox Sports 1)

“Detroit Superstar” Daron Cruickshank vs. Anthony “The Assassin” Njokuani (UFC Fight Pass)

“The Leech” Jingliang Li vs. Nordine Taleb (UFC Fight Pass)

Olivier “The Quebec Kid” Aubin-Mercier vs. Jake “The Librarian” Lindsey (UFC Fight Pass)

Paul “The Irish Dragon” Felder vs. Jason Saggo (UFC Fight Pass)

Pedro “The Young Punisher” Munhoz vs. Jerrod “J-Reazie” Sanders (UFC Fight Pass)

Matt Dwyer vs. Albert “Einstein” Tumenov (UFC Fight Pass)

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