UFC loses some of its shine

MIKE GANTER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:49 PM ET

TORONTO - The fight card had seven Canadians on it, but without Georges St. Pierre and obviously with a smaller venue, the UFC’s second visit to Toronto wasn’t nearly the spectacle the first was.

Obviously there was no way they were going to cram 55,734 into the Air Canada Centre which has a full concert capacity of 19,800, but there were still some empty seats here.

In fairness, the Rogers Centre event was the first ever in the province, but the follow up didn’t have the same energy the first one did — even during the week-long buildup.

Clearly there is still a huge demand for UFC in this market, but the days of banking $12.1 million on a single event are apparently over.

SAY IT AIN’T SO

In a sport where sentimentality is just about non-existent, even the hardest of hearts had to feel for Thamesford’s Mark Hominick. From fight of the night at UFC 129 at the Rogers Centre in a loss to current featherweight champ Jose Aldo to an unbelievably quick end to what was to be the next step in a promising career.

Hominick lasted seven seconds against Chan Sung Jung — the Korean Zombie — and readily admitted his mistake afterwards.

“I’m gonna give it up to him. I came out a little too wild,” Hominick said.

It tied for the quickest knockout in UFC history as Hominick came out with a wild left and then took a straight right on the button that dropped him. When Jung dove in to finish him off, Hominick was unable to even get his hands up to defend himself and the bout was called.

The Zombie, clearly excited with the win but tactful enough to remember where he was, told the crowd, “Sorry Toronto, I love Canadians!”

FACES IN THE CROWD

A lot of MLSE people here but perhaps the most interesting was Andrea Bargnani. Teammates were saying last year how Bargnani had come out of his shell and was open to just about anything. Still, we didn’t have him pegged for a UFC guy.

James Johnson on the other hand probably had a lot to do with this one. Earlier in the week Johnson, who fought professionally when he was 19 said he had every intention of bringing whoever was willing to go with him to Saturday night’s event. Johnson wanted to get as close to the octagon as possible and maybe “get a little snot on me.”

Bargnani tried to get a closer look according to one media member who was floor level but got turned back by security which would not let him into the press area.

Also spotted were plenty of Maple Leafs brass including Brian Burke and head coach Ron Wilson.

HOME SWEET HOME

Mark Bocek needed a positive result and what better place to do it than in his hometown.

The Toronto-born lightweight didn’t fare so well at UFC 129. Then Bocek was part of the main card but was upset by Brandon Henderson who had just come over to UFC after the merger with World Extreme Cagefighting.

Henderson has since gone on to have some pretty decent success in the UFC and is currently the No. 1-ranked contender for the UFC lightweight title so the upset might not have been such an upset.

But Bocek rebounded nicely Saturday night winning a unanimous three-round decision over Nick Lentz, putting two losses in his past three fights behind him.

Bocek clearly had the Toronto crowd behind him and while his ear started to resemble a cauliflower by the second round, he was the aggressor and was rewarded with the win.

Lentz wasn’t exactly in agreement after the fight.

“He did zero damage,” Lentz said. “That’s what fights are based on and he didn’t hurt me. He did absolutely nothing to me except hold me down. That’s not what a fight is supposed to be. So what if he was on top, he did nothing.”

The scorers clearly saw it differently.

A FEW MORE OBSERVATIONS

I bet my favourite reality show host Joe Rogan had a lot of insightful and probing questions, but I couldn’t hear a word of his interviews from the press box ... Dion Phaneuf is having a solid year with the Leafs and has every reason to smile but he looked ridiculously uncomfortable when the cameras found him in the stands ... Really, a Go Leafs Go chant at a UFC event?

mike.ganter@sunmedia.ca


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