UFC 149 Calgary debut to be confirmed on Wednesday
The Ultimate Fighting Championship is due to bring it’s unique brand of Mixed Martial Arts to Calgary, Alberta for the first time, expected to be on July 21. It will be the first return to Canada since 2011, while the largest ever crowd for a UFC event attended UFC 129 in Toronto, back in April 2011.
The event will take place at the Scotiabank Saddledome, and is expected to be a 20,000 capacity sell-out, after the successes of previous Canadian events.
Speaking about these fans, and the plans for the event, director of Canadiran operations for UFC, Tom Wright, said: “We see our pay-per-view numbers. We know how many fans have travelled to Vancouver from Alberta. We know how many fans travelled to Toronto, actually, for UFC 129 from Alberta. There are strong (athletic) commissions in place, in Edmonton and Calgary. We’ve got good relationships in both those cities. And, frankly, those are two places we’ll look.”
The UFC continues to press on with its expansion plans into Canada. With the popularity of MMA North of the border ensuring high crowds - including the record 55,724 for UFC 129 - the events are big business for the UFC.
With the event set to feature a big name title showdown, there has been speculation over who the possible fighters could be. One likely possibility is a lightweight showdown between title holder Benson Henderson and Anthony Pettis, both of whom last fought at UFC 144 in Japan. Pettis’ trainer believes it would be the perfect time and place for the fight.
The other option is a title bout for the featherweight belt, after Jose Aldo retained his title in his homeland, Brazil, back in January.
In addition to UFC 149, the organisation is looking likely to stage two more events in Canada in the second half of 2012 - likely to be in Toronto and Montreal. With expansion plans gathering pace, the return of Canadian welterweight champion Georges St-Peirre from injury would be the perfect fight, with Wright saying, “I will always lobby for Georges to fight in his home country.”