by Damon Martin – MMAWeekly.com
Fighters jockeying to have a fight in their hometown has become a pretty big part of mixed martial arts lately.
From Georges St-Pierre fighting for the welterweight title in Montreal, to Rich Franklin competing in Cincinnati, all the way to the success shown by Urijah Faber as a huge commodity in the Sacramento, Calif., area, the hometown fight is a dream for many mixed martial artists.
The latest city to start getting the attention of fighters from the UFC specifically is the Steel City of Pittsburgh, which opens a new arena later this year. The Consol Energy Center will be home to the National Hockey League’s current Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins, and may be a perfect fit for a UFC event in the near future.
Greg Sirb, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Athletic Commission, says that the state would be thrilled to have the UFC back after an extremely successful first bid when the promotion came to Philadelphia in August 2009.
“UFC in Pittsburgh would be huge. I am sure it would sell out 15,000 plus,” said Sirb. “(The) Philadelphia UFC was the largest grossing event this commission ever had, people are still talking about that night.”
The UFC currently has several fighters who grew up around the Pittsburgh area, as well as surrounding cities in and around Pennsylvania, including “Ultimate Fighter” winner Mac Danzig and two former NCAA wrestling champions in Josh Koscheck and Phil Davis, who both won their titles while wrestling in Pennsylvania.
Koscheck, who is currently set to face Paul Daley at UFC 113 in Montreal, believes that if Pittsburgh gets the UFC he will absolutely be on that card, and maybe even the main event that night.
“I’d love to be on that card. Hopefully, I’ll be the main event on that card. Pittsburgh, that’s my place, I grew up there. I’m a Steeler. I’m part of the Steel Curtain,” said Koscheck.
“It would be a great thing for the area, and it would be a great thing for myself. I’d love to be a part of that event, absolutely.”
The American Kickboxing Academy fighter says he hopes to make it back home around August, and would love to see the UFC come to town. If they do make the move to come to Pittsburgh, Koscheck says his participation on the card is a “done deal.”
Phil Davis, who competed at and graduated from Penn State University, knows that fans in the area that love wrestling would absolutely support the sport in Pittsburgh. He also says they are passionate about their athletics like nothing you’ve ever seen before.
“Pennsylvania wrestling fans, I’m trying to tell you, it’s not a game with them. Wrestling is not a game. You ever seen somebody get stabbed over wrestling? I have! I have! It’s not a game!” said Davis with a laugh.
If the timing works out, the new 18,000-plus-seat arena will open later this year to kick off the new season of the NHL. Davis knows that he wants to be on that card, and the fans will definitely come out for the fight.
“Yeah, man I’m going to be on that card, and we’re going to see some crazy people come out the woodwork for Phil Davis,” said the Penn State grad.
There’s been no official word from the UFC about a show in Pittsburgh, but with Pennsylvania’s growth in the sport and neighboring areas sure to bring in fans to the new arena, it’s almost a lock that the Steel City will become a fight town in the near future.