UFC Plans Likely Spring Return to Montreal

with UFC welterweight title belt

Montreal's Georges St-Pierre

Bell Centre owns three of top four UFC attendance marks

The UFC will hit Toronto next week for UFC 140, returning to Canada’s largest city for a second time in 2011 rather than making a stop at the Bell Centre in Montreal.

But on Thursday, UFC vice president of regulatory affairs Marc Ratner told Heavy.com the UFC is planning to be back in the Quebec city soon.

“We’re looking at Montreal maybe in the second quarter (of 2012),” Ratner said. “We have to see who’s fighting, see if there’s anybody local. There’s just a lot of factors that come into play.”

Additional sources with knowledge of the situation also confirmed to Heavy.com that the UFC is considering an early spring return to Montreal, lending credence to a Thursday report from Canada’s SportsNet that said the promotion is seeking to book March 24 at the Bell Centre, home of the NHL’s Montreal Canadiens.

March 24 is the only open Saturday on the Bell Centre’s calendar that month. In April, there currently are three Saturday dates open, but uncertainty of the Canadiens’ possible playoff schedule could make booking an April show there now an impossibility.

Asked Friday if a possible UFC event in Montreal would be a traditional numbered pay-per-view event, as past shows have been, Ratner told Heavy.com he was unsure, citing the promotion’s 2012 Fox network schedule.

The UFC did shows at the Bell Centre in 2008, 2009 and twice in 2010.

The first two times the UFC had paid attendance in excess of 20,000 fans, the events took place in Montreal. UFC 83, featuring Montreal favorite son Georges St-Pierre reclaiming the welterweight title from Matt Serra, drew 21,390 fans in April 2008. UFC 97, in April 2009, drew 21,451, setting the company’s new standard. And UFC 124 a year ago, again featuring St-Pierre, set a new mark with 23,152. Those three were eclipsed by UFC 129‘s 55,724 in April in Toronto, but the three Bell Centre shows remain the standard for arena shows for the UFC.

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