UFC's Debut In Toronto Could Pave Way For Bigger Events, Perhaps In N.Y.
The UFC will make its Toronto debut next month with an event at Rogers Centre, and the city represents a “key piece of the UFC’s longer-term strategy,” according to Grant Robertson of the GLOBE & MAIL. UFC 129 on April 30, the MMA promotion's first stadium event, is “more than just a payday” for the organization; it is a “proving ground." UFC “has only ever staged fights in arenas built for boxing or hockey," and if the Rogers Centre event "works, it will pave the way for even bigger fights at venues like Cowboys Stadium.” On the other hand, if “fans in Toronto leave unhappy -- due to bad sightlines, lacklustre fights or a mismanaged show" -- UFC officials "could end up eating their words for a long time to come.” Canada is home to the UFC's "most fervent supporters.” It took "just minutes for the UFC to sell 55,000 tickets ... to the April 30 fight.” White said, “I always talk about how big Canada is for us, and how crazy Canadians are for the UFC. Every time we go up to the Bell Centre (in Montreal), we sell that thing out. We got 23,000 there, but the question is, how many more people were really looking for tickets?” Robertson notes the "second reason Toronto really matters" is because "New York will be watching." N.Y. remains the "one major North American market the UFC hasn’t cracked," a place where UFC co-Owners Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta and President Dana White "desperately want to be: the world’s most prestigious sports town.” If the UFC can "pull off a successful show in Toronto, proving to skeptics that the young sport is ready for the big-time, then maybe it stands a chance of playing the hallowed Madison Square Garden or, better yet," Yankee Stadium (GLOBE & MAIL, 3/25).
A FIGHTING CHANCE: The West Virginia Legislature Thursday passed a bill regulating MMA, becoming the 45th state to approve the sport. Only New York, Vermont and Connecticut remain unregulated, while Alaska and Wyoming lack the necessary regulatory bodies to oversee the sport (UFC). SHERDOG.com’s Tristen Critchfield noted the West Virginia athletic commission “must write the rules and regulations” before the bill is processed again through the Legislature, meaning that spring ’12 is “likely the earliest that a local fight card could take place.” The UFC “will wait until all the proper parameters are set” (SHERDOG.com, 3/24).