Georges St-Pierre says November return possible for home city
The UFC took care of its fans in Canada in a big way on Wednesday, announcing three 2012 pay-per-view cards for the country in one fell swoop.
While in Calgary, Alberta, to announce UFC 149 for July 21, UFC president Dana White and director of Canadian operations Tom Wright also announced cards for Toronto and Montreal this fall. UFC 152 will take place in Toronto on Sept. 22, while the promotion will head back to Montreal on Nov. 17 for UFC 154.
And get used to it, White and Wright said. While Wright said visits to Toronto and Montreal were locked in for the promotion’s 2013 schedule, but Calgary remained to be seen, White jumped in and assured fans at the press conference that Calgary would be in the 2013 rotation, as well.
“We’ve done eight events in Canada,” White said. “We’ve done 200,000 fans in three host cities, and more than $40 million in gate – and God knows what the economic impact was holding these events. This place has been the mecca for mixed martial arts ever since we set foot in this country.”
The UFC has not been to Montreal since UFC 124 in December 2010. UFC 145 was scheduled to take place there this Saturday, but ultimately was moved to Atlanta on April 21 for a headliner between light heavyweight champion Jon Jones and Rashad Evans. Toronto hosted an event in December.
The UFC will host three events in Canada for the third straight year. In 2011, the UFC visited Toronto twice (UFC 129, UFC 140) and Vancouver (UFC 131). But because of commission issues in British Columbia, as well as, White alluded, a distaste from Vancouver fans rioting after the Canucks lost Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals, Vancouver is not likely to be on the UFC’s schedule over the next two years. In 2010, the promotion hit Montreal twice (UFC 113, UFC 124) and Vancouver (UFC 115).
No headliners for either UFC 152 or UFC 154 were announced, but UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre said via satellite from Los Angeles that his rehab is ahead of schedule and he hopes he might be able to be ready in time for a November return to fight in front of his home fans in Montreal. St-Pierre has been on the shelf since tearing his ACL last fall before a scheduled fight against Nick Diaz at UFC 143. St-Pierre has not fought since defending his title against Jake Shields at UFC 129 last April in Toronto.
“My rehab is going very well,” St-Pierre said. “The doctor says its the fastest rehab they’ve seen for an ACL surgery. I’m halfway through my rehab, and I can’t push too much. I have to wait the minimum amount of time. But I’ll be training full-out around July, so hopefully I’ll have a chance to fight in front of my Canadian fans in November. I’ll cross my fingers and hope that will happen.”
Venues for the pay-per-views were not announced, though Montreal’s card in November is likely to take place at the Bell Centre, site of the UFC’s previous four cards there. The most likely scenario for Toronto is the Air Canada Centre, which hosted UFC 140. But it’s possible the UFC could shoot for another stadium show like UFC 129, which played to more than 55,000 fans at the Rogers Centre in April 2011.