UFC prez looking at Canada

JOSE RODRIGUEZ -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 7:10 AM ET

The groundwork is being laid for the first Ultimate Fighting Championship event in Canada, UFC president Dana White said yesterday.

"We will come to Canada soon," White said.

The UFC prez said the ideal fight for Canada would be Montrealer Georges St. Pierre taking on welterweight champ Matt Hughes for the belt. A match between the two has been tentatively set for late this year, though a venue hasn't been announced.

Marc Ratner, UFC vice-president of government and regulatory affairs, said he has been in talks with Montreal and Edmonton about hosting an event and hasn't ruled out Calgary as a possible venue.

"We were trying to get dates in both places (Montreal and Edmonton) where they had hockey games right now scheduled but we're working on that as we speak," he said.

Ratner said he also plans talks with Toronto, though the sport is currently not sanctioned in Ontario.

The reality TV show, The Ultimate Fighter, has catapulted the UFC and mixed-martial arts into the mainstream -- especially among men aged 18 to 39.

The next major UFC event will be held Saturday at the Staples Centre in Los Angeles and will feature a non-title bout between Hughes and UFC legend Royce Gracie.

White admits the Memorial Day long weekend in the States has hampered ticket sales. The UFC's first foray into California -- last month's UFC 59 at Arrowhead Pond -- was the organization's fastest sellout so expectations were high for the L.A. show.

IN THE OCTAGON: Former UFC light-heavyweight champ Randy Couture, who retired after losing to Chuck Liddell in February, is musing about returning to the Octagon ... UFC 61: Bitter Rivals will feature a title rematch between heavyweight champ Tim Sylvia and Andrei Arlovsky, and a much-anticipated scrap between The Ultimate Fighter Season 3 coaches Ken Shamrock and Tito Ortiz. The fight is scheduled for July 8 in Las Vegas ... Season 4 of The Ultimate Fighter will be called The Comeback and will feature former UFC fighters who fell off the map ... Liddell, the seemingly invincible light-heavweight champ, will step into the Octagon to defend his belt against Renato (Babalu) Sobral August 26 in Las Vegas.


Photos