October 12, 2010

UFC CanadaThe province of Ontario, a longtime target of mixed martial arts proponents, finally acquiesced to sanctioning in August. That finally opened the door for the most prominent MMA organization in the world to operate in the province’s capital, Toronto, the most populated city in Canada.

The regulatory process, however, takes time, pushing the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s debut in Toronto back to 2011. If things move forward smoothly, the UFC could be bringing a pay-per-view event, and its patented UFC Fan Expo, to Toronto sometime mid-year.

“The regulatory process has just started,” said Tom Wright, the UFC’s Director of Canadian Operations. “We hope to have it completed by the end of the year.

“We’ve already started having discussions about a venue in Toronto and, most likely, we’re looking at the first UFC event in Toronto probably sometime mid-year (2011), but the date hasn’t been selected yet because we haven’t completed the regulatory process.”

When UFC president Dana White earlier this year named Wright to run the company’s Canadian operations, he mentioned that he’d like to run at least three numbered (pay-per-view) events per year in Canada. UFC 124 at the Bell Centre in Montreal in December will make three such events for 2010. Wright believes that the promotion could be lumping three Canadian events very close together in 2011.

“Next year, we’ve already started plans… last week we met in Vancouver to bring our second fight there. We’ve already had conversations about bringing our first event to Toronto and that’s where we’d probably hold a fan expo. And I don’t see any reason we wouldn’t have our third event coming back here to Montreal,” he said at a Tuesday press conference in Montreal.

“(Toronto) is gonna be a big event. It might just be an event that’s sandwiched between Vancouver and Montreal next year.”

The venue, though not yet decided, is likely to be the Rogers Centre, where Wright was first introduced as the UFC’s head honcho in Canada. The facility is extremely flexible with seating capacity configurable for anywhere from 10,000 upwards of 69,000.

“I think that the fight in Toronto will break all records,” said White in August. “I think it will be the biggest mixed martial arts event in North America, and it will be a long time before that record’s broken.”