by Damon Martin – MMAWeekly.com
The upcoming season of “The Ultimate Fighter” features welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre coaching opposite top contender Josh Koscheck with the two scheduled to meet in the Octagon following the series. The build-up could create some of the most interesting storylines of any championship bout in UFC history.
With the UFC’s announcement on Tuesday that they are planting a flag in the city of Toronto, opening a Canadian office in a province that still doesn’t sanction mixed martial arts, sends a clear message that they are committed to getting the job done in Toronto.
UFC president Dana White admits that he’d love to put the title fight between St-Pierre and Koscheck in Toronto, but says that having it in Koscheck’s hometown is also a possibility.
“We want to do that fight here,” White said about Toronto. “We could do Pittsburgh too though, but we’d like to do it here.”
Maybe they could turn it into the best coaches challenge ever with the winner getting home field advantage? It could be a possibility if sanctioning passes, but the lead legal counsel for the UFC, Lawrence Epstein, takes a step back and says that everything is a process and they still have work to do in Ontario.
“It’s very, very tough to put a percentage on it,” Epstein answered when asked how far along the process is with the Ontarian government. “All I can tell you is we’ve had a lot of positive talks with all the ministers and their staffs regarding this issue. Ultimately, I think the province of Ontario is doing very much what the city of Vancouver did, deliberate, thoughtful analysis of the issues. We’re very hopeful they’re going to reach the same conclusion which was reached in Vancouver, which is to regulate the sport.”
The ultimate goal is to get the sport regulated in Ontario and the rest of Canada, but White says at the end of the day the UFC is there to stay.
“I’ve been saying we were close (to getting Toronto sanctioning) for two years,” White said with a laugh. “As close as I thought we were before, who knows? I don’t know what that means. We’re here, we’re hammering it, it’s not one of those things like we have to get this done this year. We eventually have to get it done.”
As far as locations go it seems the UFC has already decided that the Rogers Centre, formerly known as the Skydome, would likely be the landing venue for an event there. The UFC president could only smile when asked if holding their press conference on Tuesday at the Rogers Centre held any significance at all.
“Maybe a little,” White said.
The timetable for the St-Pierre vs. Koscheck match-up is likely at the end of this year following Season 12 of “The Ultimate Fighter.” UFC vice president Marc Ratner told MMAWeekly.com that they have had talks about bringing an event to the Pittsburgh area when the new Consol Energy Center opens, coincidentally, later this year.
Whether it’s Toronto or Pittsburgh, the element adds another piece to the puzzle for the promise of a great fight looming later this year with St-Pierre vs. Koscheck.