UFC schedules T.O. fight

Dana White is bringing the UFC to Toronto for the first time. (QMI Agency/Carmine Marinelli)

Dana White is bringing the UFC to Toronto for the first time. (QMI Agency/Carmine Marinelli)

NEIL SPRINGER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:14 PM ET

TORONTO - Toronto MMA fans, your prayers have been answered.

The Rogers Centre will play host to UFC 131 on Sat., Apr. 30, 2011. UFC president Dana White and director of Canadian operations Tom Wright made the announcement at a press conference today at the Air Canada Centre. Though a fight card has yet to be assembled, a UFC Fan Expo will be held at the Direct Energy Centre on April 29th and 30th.

"Finally," White began. "This January, it will have been 10 years that we've (parent company Zuffa, LLC) owned the UFC. Throughout my career, there have been some memorable events. I have a feeling that (UFC 131) will be the most memorable event of my career."

The UFC has long lobbied the Ontario government to sanction MMA before getting the green light this past summer. As of Jan. 1, 2011, the province will begin accepting event applications.

White, who refers to Toronto as the Mecca of MMA, said UFC 131 will shatter the North American MMA record for people in attendance, and world best for money earned at the gate.

"This sport is so huge in Canada," White said. "We've done some huge events in the United States and all over the world, and Canadians hold the North American record for attendance and world record for gate (money taken in). People have been dying for this thing in Toronto and now we're finally coming. We're expecting it to be massive."

It's a no brainer to have Canada's biggest MMA star, Georges (Rush) St. Pierre, headline UFC 131. However, St. Pierre defends his title this weekend in Montreal against Josh (Kos) Koscheck at UFC 124 and even if he wins, he may not be medically fit to compete in April.

White said he'd love to have St. Pierre in the UFC 131 main event, but that the card will be a success with or without him.

"Georges St. Pierre is loved here and all over the world, but we have a ton of stars," White said. "That's the great thing about mixed martial arts, it's not all about one guy. We had (an event headlined by) two Brazilians up in Montreal that did really well. What does that tell you, when you bring two Brazilians to Canada and sell out?

"No matter what happens on Saturday night with Georges St. Pierre, it's going to be a great night."


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