UFC officially coming to Vancouver for June 12 event
CTV.ca News Staff
Published Friday, April 2, 2010 7:10PM EDT
After a tumultuous "will they or won't they" week, the UFC and the City of Vancouver reached a deal to hold UFC 115 at GM Place on June 12.
The UFC had considered moving the event to Cincinnati after logistical problems with the city of Vancouver seemed to have stalled the deal this week, but the issues were worked out Thursday.
"Vancouver fans will be thrilled that the UFC is coming here," Mayor Gregor Robertson said in a statement issued late Thursday. "We've worked hard to bring it to Vancouver and I want to thank UFC and Canucks Sports and Entertainment for making the event possible.
"Vancouver has some of the most passionate UFC fans in the world, and I have no doubt that General Motors Place will be packed on June 12th."
Outspoken UFC president Dana White thanked the mayor for his work getting the show approved.
"Our Canadian fans are among the most loyal and enthusiastic in the world, and we are thrilled to bring the UFC to Vancouver," White said in the UFC release. "We want to thank Mayor Gregor Robertson and our partners at Canucks Sports and Entertainment for helping to make UFC 115 become the first UFC event in British Columbia."
Under the threat of moving the show, the UFC gave the city 24 hours to sort out the insurance issues bogging down the process.
Vancouver will be the second Canadian city, after Montreal, to host the UFC.
In December, Vancouver city councillors voted to approve a two-year trial period for mixed martial arts (MMA), allowing the UFC juggernaut to hold an event,
It is estimated that each of the previous UFC events in Montreal generated about $50 million for the local economy.
MMA has now been regulated in several Canadian provinces, with the notable exception of Ontario.
That leaves Canada's biggest city, Toronto, still on the outside looking in, despite being considered the UFC's biggest market.
Premier Dalton McGuinty refused to make a decision when pressed on the issue last week, saying he was "tapping out."
White had been in Toronto to lobby for the province to regulate MMA.
"What you have to understand is this education process is going to take longer in some places than it does in others," he said, referring to the fight to bring the sport to Ontario. "It's happening. I'm going to keep coming up here until it gets done.
"This is the biggest (MMA) market in the world and there's no reason it shouldn't be here."
Ontario is one of a dwindling number of jurisdictions that does not sanction MMA. Massachusetts recently legalized the sport and the state of New York, the other major hold out, is expected to legalize the sport soon.
The UFC has also held events in Australia, England, Germany, Ireland and Northern Ireland. This month it will visit the United Arab Emirates.