UFC in Toronto: A Testimony in Favour of More Canadian Venues

Bleacher Report Correspondent IMay 15, 2009

391776 02: (FILE PHOTO) The CN Tower and the Skydome highlight the Toronto skyline in his undated file photo. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) meets in Moscow July 13, 2001 to decide between front runners Beijing, Paris and Toronto for the site of the 2008 summer Olympics. (Photo by Carlo Allegri/Getty Images)

As an all-around fan of MMA living in Toronto, I have gone through the pay-per-view route dozens upon dozens of times to see blockbuster fights materialize and sometimes, well, flop. Despite the rewards for my viewership or whether a fight card lived up to its billing, I’ve followed many leads to several UFC events.

But when Dana White and co. ventured to Montreal for a second time in the UFC’s existence, once again I mulled over the possibility of witnessing the greatest MMA fighters spar in front of a massive, potential record-smashing attendance in Toronto.

White has firmly stated his interest in taking the UFC to southern Ontario—a notion reassuring to all fans within the constituency—and believes any official announcement in the near future would immediately incite an influx of people cramming into the turnstiles of, say, the Air Canada Centre or Rogers Centre.

"Canada is the Mecca for mixed martial arts," said White. "I honestly don't think there are too many places we could go and sell 22,000 tickets as fast as we did (in Montreal). ...People up here tell me going to Toronto we could do 60,000."

That would constitute the use of the latter facility, the Roger Centre. Bonus.

However, while it is both enthralling and intriguing to envision a super fight between ubiquitous fighters like George St. Pierre and Anderson Silva in Toronto, the ministry of Ontario and other junctures of its provincial government would have to sanction the sport.

And that’s where the balloon has often been popped.

White has even cited progress that, after experiencing the success of the UFC’s stay in Montreal, there have been developmental projects, the construction of new gyms and MMA programs around the city—all of which contribute to the expansion of the country’s pool of talent.

Although it has almost become cliché to allude to the ailing economy as a common excuse for our problems, the only lens through which one can determine the worth of sanctioning MMA is money.

The U.S., for example, has executed several changes to what can be permitted in regards to professional sports. The state of Delaware, which faces a budget deficit of more than $600 million this year, has recently legalized sports gambling to negate further financial strife.

Preceded by Nevada and Montana, Delaware is only the third state to allow gambling of this type in the U.S.

In some ways, Toronto’s plight with MMA is akin to Delaware’s sanction in that there is a covert or neglected conduit through which revenues could be earned.

And the city of Toronto, which has steadfastly been concerned with the moral and ethical standards of fighting in the Octagon, could reap the rewards of both augmented tourism and economic stimulation if the UFC, in any capacity, was able to settle in southern Ontario.

Of course, those asserting their voice against MMA aren’t its target audience, but still have bearing on the viability of seeing a UFC event transpire in Toronto.

So consider this corner an argument solidifying Torontonians’ collective plea for MMA and the UFC to make inroads in the chaste market in which I live.

The virtues of MMA need to be realized beyond its pugilistic amenities and, as White has remained adamant about, the UFC would be beneficial to many parties in Toronto.

Not only would fans be appeased whole-heartedly, but the excitement incessantly synonymous with the UFC would be complimented by the ardent desire for a sport of which so many Torontonians have been deprived at the fullest extent.

I mean, I can only crave HD setups and PPV for so long.