MFC 29: Conquer in Windsor on April 8

CHRIS DOUCETTE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:23 AM ET

With the ban on mixed martial arts lifted in Ontario, the floodgates have opened and three fight cards have now been booked in the province for next month.

Ultimate Fighting Championship, which is the NHL of MMA, spent countless man hours and God only knows how much money convincing the provincial government that the sport is safe in recent years -- all in an effort to get a foothold in what many believe to be the biggest MMA market in North America.

Premier Dalton McGuinty finally lifted the ban last summer and UFC President Dana White immediately began planning an event for Toronto, UFC 129, to be held at the Rogers Centre on April 30.

However, with the hard work already done, smaller promotions have been clamouring to be the first to hold an MMA event in Ontario.

Two such shows have now been booked by different promoters.

Casino Rama, teamed with Knockout Entertainment Canada, was the first to be the UFC to the punch when it announced in January that it would hold an intimate 10-fight card in Orillia on Apr. 2 at 8 p.m.

The flurry continued this week when another event was announced by Maximum Fighting Championship, a Canadian-based promotion that touts itself as the biggest MMA promoter north of the border and among the top four in North America.

MFC President Mark Pavelich held a press conference Wednesday to announce MFC 29: Conquer will be held at the Colosseum at Caesars Windsor on April 8.

"This will be the biggest and best lineup we have ever put together" Pavelich said. "I'm eager to see the matchups take place at Caesars in my hometown of Windsor, Ontario."

Pavelich knows his company can't compete with the UFC, which easily sold 55,000 tickets to its Toronto show and set a new Rogers Centre gate record at $11 million.

But he's convinced there's plenty of room for other promoters, especially in fan-rich Ontario.

Pavelich, 43, has worked hard to build the MFC brand since starting the company in the Edmonton area in 2001. And he is striving to become the second-biggest MMA promotion in North America.

The MFC is partnered with HDNet and billionaire Mark Cuban, making it the only-Canadian based MMA promoter with a live TV deal.

The company's roster includes young up-and-coming fighters, who aim to someday compete in the UFC, as well as fighters who have had their shot in the big leagues and have been cut by the UFC.

About 5,000 fight fans are expected to pack the Colosseum to see welterweight champ Douglas "The Phenom" Lima put his belt on the line against a fighter who has not yet been identified.

"I'm very excited and looking forward to the event in Ontario," Lima said at the press conference. "I'm happy to be defending my title there."

"I am training very hard and I'm ready to fight my heart out," the native of Atlanta added.

Details of his and the other fights will be released soon.

Tickets for MFC 29: Conquer start at $65 and go on sale Friday at noon. They can be bought at www.caesarswindsor.com or through the box office at Caesars Windsor.

Lineup so far for MFC 29: Conquer:

- Welterweight champ Douglas "The Phenom" Lima (17-4) vs. TBA

- Marcus "The Irish Hand Grenade" Davis (17-8) vs. Kajan "Ragin" Johnson (18-11)

- Marvin "The Beastman" Eastman (17-13) vs. David "The Headhunter" Heath (16-7)

- Andreas "The Sweet Swede" Spang (5-0) vs. TBA

- Chucky "The Energiza Bunny" Mady (4-2) vs. TBA

- Ali "The Monster" Mokdad (3-0) vs. TBA


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