SBD/December 8, 2010/Leagues And Governing Bodies

UFC Hopes To Host Record-Setting Event At Rogers Centre In April

UFC's Ontario Debut At Rogers Centre To Be Organization's First Stadium Event

UFC "plans a historic splashdown in Ontario," scheduling UFC 131 for Rogers Centre on April 30 with the "expectations of a world record gate for MMA," according to Neil Davidson of the CP. UFC President Dana White "made the announcement at a news conference Tuesday at the Air Canada Centre -- more than three weeks before the provincial government's Jan. 1 date to begin accepting applications from MMA promoters." UFC Dir of Canadian Operations Tom Wright said, "I can assure you that our application will be on that table (Jan. 1) and I like our chances to be accepted." Davidson noted UFC "has long planned an outdoor stadium show," and Aloha Stadium in Honolulu "was originally targeted but some taxation red tape got in the way." Toronto instead "will get to put up the big numbers." How big "remains a question mark at this stage" because neither White nor Wright "offered details on setup for the show." Wright said that UFC "has visited the venue several times already, noting there are different ways to configure the Rogers Centre." He added that UFC "plans to come back to Canada 'at least three times a year' with one of those dates an annual one" (CP, 12/7). In Toronto, Morgan Campbell notes UFC 124 in Montreal on Saturday is "expected to draw more than 23,000 spectators and a live gate north" of C$5M. White said that those are "all-time highs for the organization but expects both those records to fall when the UFC arrives at the Rogers Centre, which has room for more than 50,000 people" (TORONTO STAR, 12/8). UFC also announced plans for a Fan Expo "to be held in conjunction with the show." It will take place at the Direct Energy Centre in Toronto (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 12/7).

KING OF THE RING: The GLOBE & MAIL's Stephen Brunt writes, "The fact is, there is no boxing match imaginable that could fill the Rogers Centre right now, and professional wrestling (from which UFC draws at least some of its audience, and its packaging) is pretty much a dead issue." Those who "operate UFC, most prominently, the ultra-loud and ultra-coarse tub-thumper Dana White, have distilled something from the attraction to fighting contests that may well be part of our genetic code, from video game violence and wrestling showmanship and the reality of boxing (minus the self-defeating promotional free market of boxing)." It is "blood sport for the short attention span set" (GLOBE & MAIL, 12/8). White: "People just don't want to sit around and watch a 12 round boxing match with two guys jabbing. UFC is three rounds, everything's fast, you can punch, kick, knee, elbow, slam to the ground, do submissions. It's the Now Generation" (TORONTO SUN, 12/8).

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