After a year of promised events going unfulfilled, the UFC is planning to return to Canada for three events in 2016.
Tom Wright, the UFC Managing Director for Operations in Canada, told MMA Junkie's Mike Bohn that the company is still very committed to the country once known as the mecca of MMA.
"I suspect you'll find in 2016, we'll probably go back to a couple markets where we have been before, and then we'll have a new market just like we did this year with Saskatoon," Wright says. (via MMA Junkie)
The promise of doing three or more events in Canada is one that Canadians have heard before. In 2014 the UFC promised to hold PPV events in Montreal and Toronto, with both events being pulled from the schedule.
In a press conference to announce the schedule for 2015, UFC president Dana White said that the UFC would visit Canada three to five times in 2015. Toronto, Montreal and Calgary were identified as PPV possibilities with cities like Hamilton, London, Saskatoon and Windsor as options for Fight Night cards.
The UFC ended up pulling the plug on the possibility of a show in Toronto or Calgary when it was announced UFC 194 would take place in Las Vegas. Only two events, UFC 186 in Montreal and this weekend's card in Saskatoon, will be held in Canada in 2015. This year marked the fewest UFC events held in the country since their singular trips to Montreal in 2008 and 2009.
"These things happen. There have been times in Canada where we haven't expected to have an event, and then all of a sudden we have one," Wright says.
Canadian Rory MacDonald recently fought for the UFC Welterweight Championship in what most consider to be if not fight of the year, then one of the bloodiest brawls of all-time. MacDonald came up short, losing by TKO in the 5th round to champion Robbie Lawler. It is not known when MacDonald will fight next and if it will be on home soil.
The popularity of MMA in Canada has noticeably decreased since the retirement of the last Canadian UFC Champion Georges St. Pierre. Both gate revenue and PPV buys for events in Canada have been on the decline.
The UFC schedule for 2016 will not be released until later this year, with no exact dates and venues finalized just yet.