As a proud Canadian, I was pretty excited when the UFC announced that the next three years would see it in the Great White North three times per year. Even better, as a lifelong resident of Winnipeg, it finally gave me hope that I could see a UFC here. How do you think the UFC's shows in Canada will play out over the next few years? -- Chuck from Winnipeg
Jordan Breen, administrative editor: As the sole Canadian editor in these parts, allow me to field this one.
Make no mistake about it, I think the UFC struck a perfect balance with three Canadian cards a year. Not only does the number three have some abstract, magical power about it -- we seem to have more superstitions, patterns and inanities centered on three than any other integer -- I think it is the perfect number for a Canadian live audience. It strikes a comfortable balance of sating the market's intense appetite while not oversaturating it. The same can even be said of the media coverage the UFC enjoys while in Canada. Its reappearances are usually well-timed enough that something about its presence still seems novel, like an event in and of itself.
Speaking of three, we can leave Canada's “third city” of Vancouver out of the mix for now, as the city's political madness has left MMA on the outs, at least temporarily. That still gives the UFC both Toronto and Montreal, two cities that will fill up their respective NHL arenas to capacity no matter what event rolls to town. They are not only metropolises that care about MMA; they are convenient and even fruitful travel destinations for anyone in Canada or even the northern-border United States who has had the UFC forsake their backyard.
Frankly, I think it would suit the UFC well to give Toronto and Montreal a card per year for infinity, never mind three years. That's not just my selfishness talking, either, since I love going to UFC's in both cities for the sort of unique energies -- and often fantastic cards -- that follow. I wouldn't be surprised if that's the route it goes, either. Maybe one year, one city will miss a show, but I expect neither city to have to wait any longer than, say, 18 months to get a major UFC.
So, in a very casual way, that means that roughly once a year, we'll get a “floating” show. This time, it's Calgary -- and for the Calgary Stampede week, no less. Perhaps Zuffa will return to Edmonton's Rexall Place, although the near-unanimous MMA community (media especially) reaction to the Rexall Place for WEC 46 was hardly a joyous one. Chuck, your beloved home of the 'Peg is even valuable for this same reason, especially since it is the western counterpoint to shows in Quebec and Ontario in the same way Calgary or Vancouver are.
All this said, don't expect the UFC to get too creative in Canada. Its bread is buttered by the very kind of major events I mentioned previously. We're still at a point where the phrases “Toronto UFC” or “Montreal UFC” have a contextual power that we all understand. I don't think we'll see the UFC bringing a small Fuel card to somewhere in Saskatchewan just to be swell. The UFC's bread-and-butter in Canada is that major 20,000-fan show in at least a decent arena, centrally located for the best fan-and-media convergence.
Nothing new for Canada, of course, with the have and have-not provinces. Plus, I don't suspect that equalization payments are much the UFC's style. Hopefully you've been saving your air miles at Safeway.
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