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UFC in Canada?

By Luke | May 29, 2006

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By: Luke Nicholson 

There was an interesting story by Neil Davidson of the CP, talking about UFC coming to Canada. Obviously, as a Canadian, this is very exciting. With the high Canadian dollar, and with MMA’s growing popularity in the Great White North, it only would make sense for UFC to expand beyond their borders, to give UFC fans across North America a chance to experience UFC live.

UFC running shows in Montreal or Quebec City makes tremendous sense. One of UFC’s fastest rising stars – George St. Pierre – is French Canadian, and his star is rising just as fast at home, as it is with UFC fans across North America. It would be tremendous to see Hughes vs. St. Pierre happen in either of those cities. And, if St. Pierre were to win his match, and the UFC Welterweight Title, it would make for a tremendous story.

UFC doesn’t need to necessarily run major PPVs in Canada. Just start taking the TUF Finales and Ultimate Fight Night events outside of Vegas. Those would be perfect events to hold in smaller markets like Edmonton, Calgary, Saskatoon, etc. Cities the size of said markets would be more likely to have a venue thats more reasonably sized for a TV taping, where you don’t need 20K seats, but you want more than 1500, so you don’t come off as an indy promotion.

I’m not sure how well KOTC draws in Edmonton, but I think UFC could do well in that market also. I think it would take more work than Montreal or Quebec City, but I think its do-able. The major advantage UFC has, is that MMA is so hot right now, that they could run just about any accessible territory, and draw very well, if they price their tickets reasonably (*cough*UFC 60*cough*).

Some of the hurdles that exist in the U.S., also exist in Canada. Not every province sanctions MMA in Canada. Alberta and Quebec certainly do, given the presence of KOTC and TKO in those regions respectively. But, the provinces which house two of Canada’s three biggest cities, Ontario and British Columbia do not. Dana White and the Fertittas are big city, big party guys. They like to run the major markets because it makes for a grander show, and a bigger after-party with larger celebrities. Dana White made it clear in the Canadian Press story that he would love to run Toronto. He probably would like to run Vancouver just as much. The problem with both those markets is that MMA is not sanctioned in those cities, and the sanctioning bodies in both regions, seem to turn their nose up at the idea of mixed martial arts doing a cartwheel guard pass of their respective borders.

The attractive part of running major territories like Vancouver, and Toronto is those territories are Canada’s largest media markets. UFC having access to those regions would be a great platform to possibly getting a Canadian television deal, or just greater, more positive media coverage. The Canadian media has always given Pro Wrestling more respectful coverage than it gets in the United States, and the same would probably hold true for MMA in Canada.

When Chuck Liddell appeared at the Fight Network kickoff in Toronto a while back, he did so amongst numerous Canadian Celebrities – one being Bret Hart. Reports from people who were at the event said Chuck Liddell was easily the biggest star there. Given Bret Hart’s legendary name in Canada, thats a testament to the popularity of Chuck Liddell and MMA in general, that he would come off as a bigger star than Bret Hart at a media event in Canada.

Hopefully, with some diligent work by Marc Ratner, UFC will eventually be sanctioned in all 48 contigious states, and all of Canada. With their popularity at an all-time high, this is the opportunity to take your product to new regions, and not rely on Las Vegas for every show.

Topics: All Topics, Canada, Luke Nicholson, MMA, UFC | No Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

No Responses to “UFC in Canada?”

  1. Jennifer Emmelkamp says:

    Thank you for publishing this great article. I had read months ago about UFC comming to Canada but hadn’t found any info since. I hope Dana sees how great the Canadian market could be. I have been to UFC in Vegas and have only missed 1 UFC ppv event since the start of UFC in 1995. I am from a small town but there is a huge group of UFC fans here eager to drive the 10 hours to Edmonton to see UFC. We can only wait and see I guess.


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