Canadian MMA has always been on the cusp of greatness, but for some reason, fighters from Canada seem to always come up just shy. With all the talent that has entered the organization from the Canadian market, one would imagine there would have been several champions from the region by this point.
Unfortunately, that isn’t the case as only two champions in UFC history have ever represented the Great White North: only Carlos Newton and the legendary Georges St. Pierre have achieved that feat. Outside of the aforementioned champions, there have been 89 fighters who have represented Canada on the UFC stage. Of these, only eight have competed for a title in the world’s largest MMA promotion.
When scouting the Canadian MMA market, one finds there are many hidden gems waiting to emerge as potential signings of the UFC and Bellator. At the top of that list is Tristar veteran Xavier Alaoui (11-3). He has competed on the Canadian regional scene since 2010, waiting for that opportunity.
Alaoui has been competing in the sport since 2010 and has been viewed by Canadians as one of the top prospects out of the country for years now. After a blistering start to his career, going 11-1 as an amateur, Alaoui would jump to the professional ranks in 2014 with a unanimous decision victory in his professional debut.
Alaoui’s record of 11-3 is a strong one, but it is one that appears even stronger upon closer inspection.
All three of his losses took place over a 14-month stretch, and all three were controversial. Many believe Alaoui won two of the three decisively and the results were highly controversial when the scorecards were read. These were against top Canadian prospect Josh Hill and Edgars Skrivers; one judge in each bout could have swayed the scorecards in Alaoui’s favor.
“A split decision is the worst thing… It’s bitter to lose a split decision. At some point you even question whether or not you want to do this sport anymore,” Alaoui told MMA-Prospects. “I got robbed from a subjective standpoint. From a subjective point, this guy thinks that I lose. It made me more mean and more violent I think.”
This mindset change has been critical to his success following those losses. So now, six years and thirteen fights later, the Tristar representative will be looking to capture a world title and bring it back to Canada when he takes on Cameroon’s Juares Dea (7-2) at UAE Warriors 14.
The title fight with Dea was initially expected to take place on September 25. However, a day before flying to the event, Dea was forced out of the fight.
Several opponents were offered as a replacement before an agreement was made to face undefeated Taksim Zabitov.
When asked about the opponent switch, the Canadian explained his rationale for taking the fight to MMA-Prospects.
“Let’s say you’re at McDonald’s, and you’re with your girl. People who know me know I always use that example. A guy touches your girl, what are you going to tell him? Are you going to tell him you need eight weeks, and you need to make weight? Hell no, you’re going to throwdown right away. It’s a fight.”
Alaoui won the fight decisively, reaffirming the fight Dea… only this time, a title will be on the line. The additional wait is only fuel to the fire for Alaoui, and he expects the exact same result he did the first time the two were booked.
“[The extra two rounds] adds extra excitement… To be here and [to] fight for a belt, I feel blessed. I have always wanted to be World Champion and always wanted to get a belt,” said Alaoui.
A world title is the last thing missing from the Canadian’s resume to get the signing to the UFC. He has been making waves on the Canadian regional scene for years, has competed all over the globe, and will finally be given the opportunity to get a belt around his waist.
Canadian UFC fighters like Tanner Boser and Kyle Nelson have similar stories; both were forced to compete internationally in order to get fights with the North American giant. When asked about the struggles of Canadian mixed martial artists ultimately reaching the big show, Alaoui was quick to answer.
“We have some good guys on the regional scene. The problem is the lack of activity in terms of shows in Canada. There never has been anything. It’s hard for guys to come up when they’ve got to fight amateur all the time. You can’t rack up 15 amateur fights. We should have many pro shows to let guys rack up pro wins.”
In recent years, the UFC has brought several events annually up north, with the fanbase responding in kind: the Canadian fans have managed to sell put nearly every event. Most notably, UFC 129 managed to draw over 55,000 people to the Roger’s Arena in Toronto, which remains one of the largest attendances ever at a UFC event.
A big win for Alaoui could have the UFC brass seeking his services. As a result, it would also bring eyes to the entire Canadian MMA market. This attention couldn’t come at a better time with the UFC seemingly always in need of last-minute replacements during the COVID-19 era.
This could be a perfect opportunity for a fighter like Xavier Alaoui to slot right in.
UAE Warriors 14 takes place on Friday, November 27. It will be one of the first events that will allow crowds into the arena in the region.