March 21, 2012
UFC coming to Calgary
By IAN BUSBY, QMI Agency
CALGARY - UFC 149 is coming to Calgary July 21 and the fight card promises to be “sick.”
Judging by the crowd that showed up at Flames Central Wednesday morning for the official announcement, the Saddledome will be rocking the weekend after Stampede ends.
UFC president Dana White got a huge ovation from a few hundred fans in officially announcing Calgary as part of a three-city Canadian tour in 2012.
“Every time we come into a city for the first time, people want to be part of that event,” White said.
“People fly in from all over the world so the economic impact is huge.
“It was time to come to Calgary. Look at the turnout just for a press conference. Everyone has told me for a long time what a huge sports city this is and this press conference proves it.”
The card for UFC 149 has not yet been set but White announced Wednesday that featherweight champion Jose Aldo will be defending his title that night.
Despite Internet rumours about ticket sales, UFC director of Canadian operations Tom Wright said the Saddledome hasn’t been scaled yet and pricing isn’t set.
Wright said tickets will be available during the week of May 7.
Calgary will be the ninth UFC card in Canada, joining other host cities of Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver.
In the eight previous fight nights, more than 200,000 people attended in person, resulting in a gate draw of about $40 million.
Wright said the economic impact will be in the tens of millions for the city of Calgary, thanks to an influx of visitors.
“The date we found is perfect,” Wright said. “It’s right after Stampede week.
“From coast to coast, we’ve been fortunate to have such loyal MMA fans. We can’t wait to show Calgary and the rest of Canada what the UFC is all about — something our fans in Toronto and Montreal have experienced and continuously want more of.”
The UFC also announced that for the next three years (2012-14) there will be events in Toronto and Montreal, while White hinted that Calgary will also be getting cards during that time as well but nothing is official yet.
There isn’t a venue confirmed for a Sept. 22 card in Toronto, but the Bell Centre will host Nov. 17 in Montreal where French Canadian UFC star Georges St. Pierre hopes to return from a knee injury.
White promises that there will be some Canadian content among the fighters in Calgary. Local product Nick Ring, Jason MacDonald of Red Deer and Mitch Clarke of Saskatoon were all in attendance Wednesday.
“We don’t have the main card done yet,” White said. “There are a lot of fights to happen before this one goes down.
“We need to see the fallout, who is injured and who is ready to fight again.
“I’m looking to bring a very good card here. We will probably start popping off fights in the next 30 days.
“I can’t wait to come here with a sick card and blow the doors off that arena.”
On Twitter @SUNIanBusby