Let me start off by saying just how much I hate "country vs. country" based promoting in MMA events...or anything else, for that matter.
Watching the NHL playoffs north of the border, one can't escape the constant appeals to national pride. "Will a Canadian team make it to the playoffs?" is a question raised so often by our sports media that it's become a mantra.
Hell, the two remaining Canadian teams in the playoffs are called the Canadiens and the Canucks (now just the Canucks, unfortunately), which should really tell you all you need to know about the game's national implications up here.
In fact, unless it's the Olympics or the World Cup were talking about, nationalism should play no part in the promotion of a major sporting event.
It just shows a lack of imagination, an appeal to the lowest common denominator of fan rooting interest: boo the foreigner, cheer the countryman.
So of course, there's GSP and Jake Shields on the official UFC 129 poster, both draped prominently in their respective national flags.
And by "draped," I mean the Star Spangled Banner and the Maple Leaf are morphing onto their bodies like they were being consumed by some overly-patriotic version of the Carnage symbiote.
Still, it is what it is, and nationalism will always play a part in sports so long as paying customers need a reason to care beyond such silliness as "athletic excellence" or "meaningful world championships."
UFC 129 in particular is loaded top to bottom with Canadian talent in a clear appeal to the 55,000 Canucks who will be jammed into the Rogers Centre that night. Not only is that smart marketing, it's also a great way to see how the best of Canadian MMA (from rank amateurs to seasoned vets) fares against some stiff international competition.
This is a big opportunity to see if the talent in Canada matches up to the insane appeal and popularity of MMA in the Great White North.
Read on as I break down every "Canada vs." fight on the 129 card, to see just how well Canada's homegrown MMA talent stacks up against their UFC 129 opposition.