Chris Kelades To Make Canadian UFC History In Canada

Chris (The Greek Assassin) Kelades had eight days notice when he fought on a Bellator card in May. This time, the 33-year-old from Cole Harbour, N.S., has just five to get ready for his UFC debut Saturday.

Kelades, a late injury replacement, will become the first Canadian flyweight to fight in the UFC when he takes on Ireland’s Patrick (The Hooligan) Holohan on a televised card at the Scotiabank Centre, the UFC’s first visit to Atlantic Canada.

Kelades (7-1) got confirmation Monday that he was replacing American Louis Gaudinot, who went down with pneumonia.

The five-foot-seven fighter, who trains with veteran UFC lightweight T.J. Grant at Fit Plus Martial Arts, hasn’t had much time to reflect on what is happening to him as the 125-pounder tries to pack everything in.

Kelades hasn’t been able to slow down and take it all in.

“Right now there’s just so much that has to be done,” he said in an interview Wednesday. “Just getting prepared mentally and physically right now is No. 1. There’s lots of paperwork, yeah, lots of other things but I guess it’s par for the course.”

His goal Saturday night is just to stay in the moment and stay focused as he walks out to the cage to the sounds of Jimi Hendrix’s “All Along the Watchtower.”

“It’s what I’ve done before,” he said of the UFC. “It’s just a different venue.”

The good news is that Kelades has already fought three times this year, winning two local Extreme Cage Combat cards sandwiched around a May loss via decision to Malcolm Gordon in Bellator in Rama, Ont.

“I wouldn’t say I was in as good shape and as prepared as I am for this,” he said of the Bellator fight. “So I expect to have a much better outcome.”

The Bellator fight was at a catchweight, which won’t be the case Saturday.

“My weight wasn’t out of control (when he got the UFC call), but it could have been a little lower,” he said with a laugh.

He’s not complaining, however, given that he decided to focus full-time on fighting this year.

“It’s pretty phenomenal the way that it’s worked out,” he said. “It’s kind of picture-perfect.”

And he will have plenty of people cheering him on in the crowd, including his wife, family, in-laws and friends.

He has also helped corner Grant in Montreal in one of his UFC fights, so has a sense of what goes on backstage. And he took in another Grant show in Toronto with his wife from the stands.

Holohan (10-0-1) trains in Dublin with (The Notorious) Conor McGregor and Cathal Pendred. He submitted Josh (The Gremlin) Sampo in his UFC debut in July. The 26-year-old Irish fighter has eight submission wins and eight first-round finishes.

Kelades, who grew up in Canning, N.S., started his career as a featherweight (145 pounds) because that was the lowest weight class available. He has since moved down to bantamweight (135) and flyweight, making his 125-pound debut in July in a decision win over Adrian Wooley.

He brings the number of Canadians on Saturday’s card to nine.

The other Canadians include Olivier Aubin-Mercier of Montreal, Mitch Gagnon of Sudbury, Ont., Jason Saggo of Charlottetown, Elias Theodorou of Mississauga, Ont., Chad Laprise of London, Ont., and Matt Dwyer of Kelowna, B.C.

Nordine Taleb is originally from France but fights out of Montreal.

Welterweight Rory (Ares) MacDonald, a native of Kelowna, B.C., who trains out of Montreal, faces American-based Belgian Tarec (Sponge) Saffiedine in the main event.

The other late addition to the card is American Roman Salazar. He becomes Gagnon’s third opponent, following the injured Rob Font and Aljamain Sterling.

About William Smith

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