Yohan Lainesse (5-0) is looking to do the same thing many fighters have done before him and turn a ridiculous viral knockout into stardom.
Lyoto Machida did it when he crane kicked Randy Couture. Joaquin Buckley threw a kick no one has ever seen and knocked Impa Kasanganay unconscious just last year. Cory Sandhagen recently may have sent a legend in Frankie Edgar into retirement with an impressive flying knee. Lainesse had one of the knockouts of the year in CFFC when he dusted Lirim Rufati with a flying knee in just 14 seconds.
Lainesse has a chance to follow-up on his October 2020 highlight reel KO on March 12 in CFFC when he takes on fellow unbeaten prospect Troy Green (4-0) at welterweight.
Lainesse is a dynamic striker that throws everything into what he is doing. His punches, kicks and flying knees all have power. Just ask Rufati about that.
To get a closer look at Lainesse, we spoke to Cody Saftic, who is an encyclopedia of Canadian MMA.
“Lainesse’s biggest asset in the fight game is big power and unrelenting desire to break down his opponents through pressure,” said Saftic. “So far he’s been able to overwhelm all of his opponents, so it’s really just a question of how he will react and perform when he eventually meets his match physically. As he moves up the ladder in the welterweight division we’ll get to see just how good he can really be.”
Every prospect also has some things they need to work on. Lainesse is no exception to this rule, Saftic believes.
“As for improvements, Lainesse tends to leave his hands very low as he crashes forward,” he said. “His hooks can be very wild and loopy and he doesn’t move his head at all, but he makes up for his defensive lapses with sheer power. To this point, none of his opponents have been able to stand up to [his power.]”
His weight class is something else he needs to find a definitive answer to. Lainesse is a guy that is ranked regionally as a welterweight and middleweight. His last two fights were at 185 and 180 pounds and this bout with Green will be at 170 pounds.
For one reason or another, this seems to be a range that a lot a fighters fluctuate between. Think former welterweights turned middleweight contenders Kelvin Gastelum and Darren Till.
“He should definitely be most effective at 170 pounds assuming the weight cut isn’t too difficult for him,” Saftic said. “There aren’t as many welterweights with his kind of size and strength. Even if he’s giving up some skill, he can overcome that because of his naturally large and powerful frame. At 6’1″ and having a 76″ reach, Lainesse isn’t going to be the smaller man too often at 170 pounds, but would be considered an average at best sized middleweight. Still only 28 years old though, he could continue to grow and fill in a bit more for a permanent move to middleweight down the road.”
When I look at prospects, I look at where they train and who they train with.
I see a lot more potential in someone who trains with top 5 guys in the UFC at somewhere like American Top Team than someone that trains in an Indiana strip mall, for example.
“Lainesse owns and operates his own gym and has also been spending a lot of time working on his grappling with Canadian BJJ standout Lee Villeneuve,” Saftic said. “He’s been known to get some work in with local Quebec talent, but eventually it would be wise to at least do a portion of his training camp at a larger gym. I’m not saying he can’t be successful doing what he’s doing, but at some point he’s going to need to feel what a world class training room is all about, have himself tested and put himself out of his comfort zone.”
Until then, Lainesse will be looking to add to his highlight reel, starting with Green at CFFC 93.
“I’m sure that he’ll be able to handle the pressure of now being the “flying knee” guy, but it’s important to not get away from the basics in search of highlight reel finishes all of the time,” Saftic said. “If Lainesse just keeps getting comfortable and being himself in the cage, you can expect the finishes to come naturally.”
And with that focus and another favorable result, his promotion to the big show could come.
“Realistically, he’s 5-0 with four first round finishes including his viral flying knee KO,” Saftic said. “He’s young, exciting, and always good for a “Fight of the Night” performance, so he’s not likely to be far from a call up. He still needs a good stiff test but he’ll get that against Green who’s also unbeaten and was a standout amateur fighter. If he can get by that test, I’d expect him to get a shot on “Dana White’s Contender Series” on the upcoming season.”
Cody Saftic is a Canadian MMA matchmaker and can be found on Fight Network, on Twitter at @CJSaftic, the ‘Dog or Pass’ podcast with co-host Paul Shaughnessy every Thursday on the Mayo Media Network, ‘Propping You Up’ every Thursday with MMA Lock of the Night and every Friday night on the Odds HQ ‘Final Weigh In’ show.