SBD/Issue 177/Leagues & Governing Bodies

UFC Tabs Former CFL Commish Tom Wright To Lead Canadian Office

Watch The UFC's Press Conference
Introducing Tom Wright, UFC Canada

The UFC is "opening its Canadian office in Toronto, in spite of the fact that the Province of Ontario refuses to sanction professional mixed martial arts events," according to James Christie of the GLOBE & MAIL. Former CFL Commissioner Tom Wright "will run the UFC's Canadian office and use his low-key approach with Ontario officials to gain a sanction for the fights." UFC President Dana White said that Wright's "marketing and business expertise make him a perfect fit for the Canadian part of UFC's global expansion." Wright said the UFC is "going out proactively to get regulated." He noted that he "expects to be putting on three UFC spectacles a year via the Canadian office." Wright said that his "No. 1 priority is get the sport regulated in every province and territory in Canada, but the UFC's other businesses will include new media, video games, merchandising and UFC gyms." UFC Chair & CEO Lorenzo Fertitta said that Canadian sales are "worth millions of dollars a year in a 'very profitable Canadian market' which accounts for about 15 per cent of the UFC's revenue" (GLOBE & MAIL, 5/26). In Toronto, Morgan Campbell notes hiring Wright "signifies that the UFC plans to crank up the pressure on provincial officials in charge of regulating combat sports." White said yesterday, "We're going to have the full-court press now. It shows how serious we are (about legalizing mixed martial arts in Ontario) and that we're taking real initiative" (TORONTO STAR, 5/26).

A LOSING FIGHT? The GLOBE & MAIL's Stephen Brunt notes "despite the promises of tax and spinoff riches from a major MMA card at a venue like Rogers Centre, there seems to be precious little appetite" from Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty's administration for "altering that status quo." The "risk of blessing an activity that some voters view as a half step better than barbarism has so far outweighed the allure of any potential reward." That is despite the fact the UFC has "waged a sophisticated and successful campaign to win the blessing of other reluctant jurisdictions in North America, and in many other places around the world" (GLOBE & MAIL, 5/26). McGuinty spokesperson Douglas Tindal in an e-mail said, "The MMA is not a priority." In Toronto, Dave Fuller writes, "In other words, expect MMA to remain on the province's back-burner" (TORONTO SUN, 5/26).

VIDEO GAME ACTION: In Miami, Jim Varsallone notes THQ yesterday released "UFC Undisputed 2010," the only MMA video game that is licensed by UFC. White said, "We picked THQ because these guys literally are so passionate about the brand, about the sport. The guys who actually designed the game went out and started taking Muay Thai and jiu-jitsu to really learn about it. We want to keep this game as real as possible -- make the game as fun and exciting as we can but keep it as real as possible." THQ has "stepped up its game for the UFC 2010 project." White noted he is "in the video game." He said, "I'm so ugly. It's unbelievable. Everybody looks like themselves, except me. I hope that doesn't look like me. I hope I'm not that ugly" (MIAMI HERALD, 5/26).

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