Mixed martial arts returned to Ontario for the first time in seemingly forever as local upstart promotion Substance Cage Combat held their inaugural event at George Bell Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. There were six fights on the first card in Toronto since UFC 152 last September and the first in Ontario since Score Fighting Series 7 last November, with three ending inside the distance and three going to decision, including the main event of the evening between Luis Felix and Toronto-area fighter Alex Ricci. In the first round, Felix dropped Ricci with a beautiful right hook but he let his opponent off the hook as he chose to try for a takedown instead of trying to finish Ricci off with strikes, even though Ricci was backing up and clearly hurt. Either way, Felix won round one 10-9, but after Ricci made a comeback in the second round by dropping Felix with punches and tying it up at 19-19, the three-round fight was up for grabs in the third. But Ricci showed that he wanted the win more as he was able to control Felix in the striking and grappling departments in the third round and he ended up clearly winning the a very entertaining fight 29-28 on everyone’s scorecards. I was extremely impressed by Ricci’s ability to survive Felix’s attack in the first round and come back to win the fight, but I wasn’t surprised at all; in fact, I was telling others in media row that I knew Ricci was going to come back and pull off the W after a bad first round, and I was soon proven right as he did just that. The victory over Felix propels Ricci to 7-1 in his MMA career. The 30-year-old has big-show experience as he has previously competed in Bellator, where he is 1-0, and Score Fighting Series, where he went 4-1 as one of the promotion’s stars before it folded, with the only loss coming to Jesse Ronson, the best Canadian lightweight prospect out there. I have seen Ricci fight in person four times and I believe he has what it takes to make it to the UFC, and here’s why. He has a very good muay Thai attack, one he developed while spending time training in Thailand; he has very good composure and recovery; he has great takedown defence; and he has good overall toughness. I’m not saying Ricci is going to be a contender in the UFC’s lightweight division, but I honestly believe he could be someone who gives a lot of guys in the lower end of the division problems and maybe even some of the guys in the middle of the pack, as well. I’m not sure if the UFC has Ricci on their radar because their lightweight division is pretty full as we speak, but as a local draw he seems like the perfect prospect to sign and book a fight for at UFC 165 in September. ut even if Ricci doesn’t make it to the UFC, he’s definitely good enough for a Bellator tournament or at least a spot in World Series of Fighting, and when you think about it, that’s pretty damn good for a guy from Woodbridge, Ontario.