For many years now, Tristar has been the only gym in Canada that has been able to produce UFC caliber athletes. Other MMA gyms, such as Fitplus MMA in Nova Scotia and Adrenaline Training Center in Ontario, would produce one or two standout fighters who would eventually end up back on the regional scene.
Unlike most Canadian gyms, Niagara Top Team is producing several UFC ready athletes all at the same time. LFA middleweight Aaron Jeffery and Anthony Romero have both competed in the Contender Series, and Jasmine Jasudavicius recently competed for the CFFC title.
Another prominent figure within that gym is featherweight Teshay Gouthro (3-1). Though he is just only fought fights into his pro MMA career, he could easily emerge as one of the brightest prospects out of Canada.
MMA-Prospects spoke to his coach, Chris Prickett, about what we can expect from Gouthro in years to come.
“Expect to see an exciting, well-rounded fighter who puts it all on the line every time he steps in the Octagon,” Prickett advised.
It goes without saying that a strong team behind a fighter leads to great success, and that certainly is the case for the young Canadian prospect. Prickett is the assistant coach of the lead wrestling program in Canada, the Brock University team.
And in Gouthro, Prickett has a talent primed for growth.
After making his amateur debut in January 2016, Gouthro would go on to compete nine times in the following three years, accumulating a very impressive 8-1 record as an amateur. More impressively, five of those victories were by way of stoppage.
In June of 2019, Gouthro made his pro debut in one of Canada’s top MMA promotions, BTC Fight Promotions. After blooding his opponent early, the doctor was forced to stop the contest, handing Gouthro his first victory as a professional.
He remained busy and picked up two more victories before the end of 2019, ending the year at 3-0. He credits staying in shape for the reason for the high activity.
“Three fights in under six months I had,” Gouthro told MMA-Prospects. “After every single one, names kept coming up, so I kept taking them. That’s how this year probably would’ve went, but then COVID hit.”
Like most fighters, Gouthro was forced to take more time off than he would’ve liked due to the COVID-19 outbreak. However, training and competing out of Canada his entire career made finding fights even more difficult.
During the COVID-19 pandemic period, the Canadian regional scene has been at a standstill, with athletic commissions largely barring competition. In fact, only two events have taken place since the lockdown back in February; both of these events only featured amateur fighters, rendering Gouthro ineligible to compete.
Heading into this year, his desire was to compete three times in 2020. The pandemic has caused him to alter his vision and make some adjustments to ensure he achieves his ultimate goal of reaching the UFC.
“It made me look at things different, and I have to plan things out differently for next year,” Gouthro said. “With the new management I am under, things are going to go the way I plan it. I am going to go with the flow and keep getting better.”
The desire to stay busy saw Gouthro accept a fight on nine days’ notice at LFA 93. He proceeded to go the distance with highly-touted Justin Wetzell in a losing effort.
Despite the loss, Gouthro believes the biggest lesson he learned from the fight was that he was better than he thought he was.
“The biggest lesson is I am a lot better than I thought I was. The way I took it was, ‘What if this was a short notice fight to the UFC?’ I wanted to see what it would be taking a short notice fight in a big organization,” said Gouthro. “It’s good to learn it now than later on. It was good learning experience.”
This same lesson was a lesson that was learned by teammate Aaron Jeffery who also competed on the card. He had lost on the Contender Series to eventual UFC signee Brendan Allen and has rebounded with three straight finishes.
When asked about the secret to the success there at the gym, he credits it to the high-level wrestling instruction they receive from head wrestling coach, Chris Prickett.
“We have high-level wrestling that [most of] Canada doesn’t have,” he said. “Our head wrestling coach, Chris Prickett, is pushing us. It’s a different mentality in our room. It’s a different vibe in that room.”
That vibe seems to be working, because Niagara Top Team is on the cusp of being one of the best gyms in Canada. Still early in his career, Gouthro is in the right place to perfect his craft. His desire to stay busy could help him get to the UFC sooner rather than later.
The full video interview with Teshay Gouthro is available below.