by Ken Pishna – MMAWeekly.com
UFC president Dana White and the main event fighters for Saturday’s UFC 97 – Anderson Silva, Thales Leites, Chuck Liddell, and Mauricio “Shogun” Rua – went before the media on Thursday in Montreal. Obviously, they were there to drum up interest in the already sold-out event, but as usual, the topic of conversation always strays.
“Obviously very excited to be back in Montreal. First time we came here, fastest sell-out, we actually sold out faster this time,” said White before addressing the hurdle that had to be overcome for the promotion’s second stop at the Bell Centre.
“The entire thing was blown out of proportion,” he said of the controversy stemming from the athletic commission possibly putting a roadblock in front of the UFC’s return. “The fight was never in jeopardy. There was a new commission and we needed to come up here and talk to them. We hadn’t done that yet. As soon as we did it, it was fine.”
The hurdles back into Montreal cleared, White has more of Canada on his radar, as well as, several other new stops throughout the world.
“Canada is the mecca for mixed martial arts right now. There aren’t too many places in the world we could go right now and sell 22,000 tickets as fast as we did here,” he said in addressing whether or not he’d like to go to Toronto. “I believe, as fast as we sell out here, maybe we could do 30 (thousand) in Toronto.”
But there’re lots more stops than Canada on the juggernaut’s radar. “We’re coming to France, there’s no doubt about it. We’re in Germany right now, and France is next. We will be putting on an event in France,” White said definitively.
There was no definitive timetable laid out for France, but several other locals are starting to be zeroed in on, as he continued. “I’m pretty confident we’re going to do an event in Boston, Mass., at the Boston Garden in November. Then, the first of the year, New York. I’m hoping we actually have Toronto done before New York.”
That’s a lot of additional roaming to throw on the promotion’s plate, but despite harsh economic times across the globe, the UFC has shown no signs of slowing its global expansion.