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This Saturday, the so-called "No Fun City" welcomes the UFC to town with open, but albeit tentative arms. Vancouver is a strange place to be. If you're on the outside looking in, Vancouver seems like a great place. Gorgeous mountains, great mild weather, picturesque city scapes... But the idiosyncrasies that define Vancouver are hard to grasp unless you live in the city to experience the many... personalities that encompass it. Vancouver sometimes suffers from a sense of identity disorder: confused as to what it wants to be. On one hand, you see the Vancouver presented in the Olympics: open, embracing, ready to be a world class city. On the other, you have a city so repressed in its desire to remain a small city, that any big event has the ability to result in a riot. It's like a kid who lived under very strict parents who just goes nuts at the first little bit of freedom. A city, where the city council is more interested in passing bylaws to permit citizens to have their own chickens in the backyard, rather than taking on more pressing, important concerns.
Enter the UFC. UFC 115 is coming to town under a cloud of concern that it would be so financially demanding on the UFC that it won't ever want to come back to town. The bulk of this concern is the rumored ridiculously high insurance premiums that the city is demanding because a few council members are afraid the liabilities may cost the city financially, and potentially hurt their political careers. You will never hear anyone mention those in city council as having the courage of their convictions. But I feel the fear is unfounded. Yes, it's a concern, but the crowds will be there. Everyone will be excited come Saturday night. And the fighters will deliver. You won't see Chuck Liddell or Rich Franklin "juking and jiving." Sure, when you look back on the history of Vancouver, there is some merit in council's concerns. Stanley cup finals? Vancouver riots. Guns'n Roses cancels? Vancouver Riots. Monster Trucks? Near riots. (In our defense, a lot of these people are from Surrey, so they're barely Vancouverites anyway.)
All these concerns seem to be based on the assumption that the UFC is afraid of financial losses. They're not. Zuffa understands that in order to make money, they have to spend money. I mean, millions were lost for years when the UFC was first purchased before they ever got back into the black. Yes, UFC 115 will be costly for the UFC, but it's a means to an end. If UFC 115 goes as well as expected, and people behave themselves, I'm pretty sure we'll see another show here in about a year's time, this time with much more reasonable insurance demands. The UFC didn't just recently open an office in Toronto just for the heck of it. Canada is a huge piece of the overall MMA puzzle, and the UFC means to stay.
It's in the hands of Vancouver citizens now. Post-Olympics Vancouver was supposed to be a new era. After the Olympics, everyone was taking about how to keep the party going. Vancouver was supposed to be a changed place. We'll see in the coming few days if Vancouver really is ready for a change, or if the city is destined to remain in the shadow of other world class cities. My prediction? UFC 115 will KO Vancouver with a great showing. Because if Vancouver wants to truly be a world class city, it needs to learn to embrace big events like the UFC, as well as behave itself while hosting. Because no one wants a drunk, surly Surrey girl as host. If you know anything about Vancouver and its suburbs, you'll understand my meaning.