Number-one middleweight contender Vitor Belfort tells FIGHT!’s Paul Thatcher that he will focus on dance lessons going into his highly anticipated title bout with Anderson Silva. Shot and edited by Rick Lee.
World Extreme Cagefighting featherweight champion and top ranked 145-pounder in the world, Mike Brown, returns to Pro MMA Radio two days before defending his title against number one contender Jose Aldo. The two will mix it up on Weds. at WEC 44 at the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas, live and free on Versus.
Emerging UFC welterweight Dustin Hazelett makes his first appearance on the show as he prepares to come back from a knee injury when he faces Karo Parysian at UFC 106 this weekend at the Mandalay Bay Hotel and live on Pay Per View. Dustin has three Submission of the Night bonuses to his credit and is widely regarded as one of the best Brazilian Jiu Jitsu stylists in the sport.
In The Opening Round, ESPN’s Jon Anik will join Pep for a full recap of UFC 105 and previews of WEC 44 and UFC 106.
Pro MMA Radio is hosted by Larry Pepe and airs to a worldwide audience every Monday night at 6 p.m. PST / 9 p.m. EST at ProMMARadio.com. On-Demand replays of every episode are available 24/7 at Bodybuilding.com and on iTunes.
FIGHT! Magazine has teamed up with Full Tilt to host free poker tournaments where you can play for a $3,000 prize pool with Ultimate Fighting Championship octagon announcer Bruce Buffer and UFC welterweight contender (and FIGHT!’s Sept. cover subject) Mike “Quick” Swick. Click here to get all the details and sign up for Full Tilt Poker!
For MMA fans, the story is a familiar one: an accomplished collegiate wrestler with an Olympic pedigree taking his abilities into the cage to earn a paycheck from his hard-earned skills. Vladamir Matyushenko fits in with the army of talented American wrestlers who followed that path with one exception; he’s from Belarus.
Matyushenko fought in the Ultimate Fighting Championship between UFC 32 in 2001 and UFC 44 in 2003. After almost two years of inactivity and fights in several different promotions, primarily the International Fight League, “The Janitor” is looking to mop up his opponent, UFC newcomer Igor Pokrajac, at UFC 103 Franklin vs. Belfort.
Born in Retchisa, a town in southeast Belarus, Matyushenko, now 38 years old, began wrestling at a young age. “I was a little boy in a small town,” Matyushenko said. “There was nothing else to do except the sport. So I started doing wrestling because back in the day the government was pretty supportive.”
Belarus has struggled a great deal in the last century. In addition to a perpetual battle to distill a common social and national identity from its ethnically diverse population, Belarus suffered enormous physical damage in WWII, with German forces destroying 209 of the 290 Belarussian towns and cities. Then a Soviet republic, Belarus took nearly 30 years to recover, and in that time, Joseph Stalin’s vision of communism began to threaten the country’s language and culture. By the time Matyushenko was born in 1971, Stalin had been dead for almost 20 years, but his policies lingered.
“At the time, when I was a little boy, maybe 12 or 14, one of the reasons I was in sports was because back then, even then, it was kind of the end of the communist regime, but still communist,” Matyushenko said. “But everyone had to go meet up and go to stupid meetings and blah blah blah and all these politics. I hated it. My excuse was ‘hey I’m going training.’ If I go train, I won’t have to go to these stupid meetings and listen to all of this propaganda stuff. It was my way to get out.”
At the same time, communism funded wrestling programs.
“Since the age of 13 or 15, I’ve been traveling, almost getting paid for it, getting money for food. So I was like why not? It was a fun thing to do,” Matyushenko said. “By the age of 15 or 16, I went to prep school. It was kind of government organized… You get to pick your own sport. I pick wrestling. You go and train for a couple of hours, then go to school for two hours, then train again. It was a way to train two, three times a day. Then again, there was more traveling involved and opportunities to train with the best, the Olympic team and stuff like that.”
Training with the Russian Olympic team brought him to the United States in 1989.
“I liked [the United States] right away,” Matyushenko said. “The only thing that was scaring me was the language. I hate English at school. That was my least likeable subject.”
Matyushenko saw opportunity in America and a permanent escape from the conflicts in Belarus.
“By the early 90s, things started to sour in Russia. Belarus–the country was falling apart,” Matyushenko said. “I decided to travel to the states in ‘94. And I’m like, ‘I’m not going back.’”
In the United States, Matyushenko forged a new life from wrestling, coaching, and a myriad of odd jobs—cafeteria worker, construction worker, lumberjack, cowboy. That part of the story is more or less the same as many American fighters. MMA was an opportunity to achieve success, but Matyushenko gave credit to more than the sport for what he has achieved.
“The reason I came here is freedom. I can be anybody I want to be. In Belarus, you don’t have that,” he said. “I think that America is the melting pot. People bring here the cultures from their own country, in order not to just come and become American. What American is: I think it’s the best people, the strongest ones. They come.
“Right now, I see myself as an American.”
And he’s proven himself to be one of the strongest.
FIGHT! hangs out with Dan Hardy and his girlfriend, Elizabeth Holloway, while they play UFC Undisputed 2010 and talk about his career and their life together.
Produced and directed by Matthew Ross. Camera: Rick Lee, Michael Mardones, Randy Ward. Edit: Ashley Cahill and Ryan Jackson-Healy. Music: Jacques Brautbar.
The Ultimate Fighting Championship first ventured into England at UFC 38 in 2002 but they didn’t return until UFC 70 in 2007. Since then the company has launched a UK campaign spearheaded by “The Ultimate Fighter” season three winner Michael Bisping who debuted just a year earlier. Following the collapse of Affliction: Trilogy the UFC picked up Cage Rage champ and former EliteXC welterweight title challenger Paul Daley. Like Dan Hardy, Daley was picked up on his own merits without reality television vetting. There are some other Brit brawlers out there who deserve a look from Joe Silva, and in one case, a second look.
The Must Haves
Only a few athletes aim to entertain on the way to the cage and Tom “Kong” Watson is one of them. He is perhaps the smartest self-promoter in the sport, prompting his fan base to bring inflatable bananas to the arena to cheer him on. Think the Pittsburgh Steelers terrible towels.
Knowing what it takes to be at the sport’s high levels, Watson traveled to Greg Jackson’s camp two years ago to add to his boxing background. A sizeable middleweight, he recently stopped UK standout John McGuire in BAMMA’s tournament, finding himself perhaps one win away from the call.
Strengths: Power, aggression and heart.
Places to Improve: Wrestling.
The former British Cage Rage welterweight champion was an early favorite to win “The Ultimate Fighter: United States vs. United Kingdom” but had an uncharacteristic performance against eventual winner James Wilks in an elimination match.
Despite conceding the major opportunity to Wilks, Mills’ potential has been apparent since early in his career. He graduated culled from Cage Rage’s Contenders series to the U.K.’s top show Cage Rage to EliteXC, where he never appeared due to the promotion’s demise. He holds two wins over Dream welterweight tournament winner Marius Zaromskis and is a personable (if mercurial) fighter with a solid overall game. He could use the push the big leagues provide. Already on the UFC’s radar and in the finals of the BAMMA tournament, he’s like Watson—one win away from graduating.
Strengths: Ground and pound, ability to find mount, scrambles and killer instinct
Places to Improve: Defensive grappling, cardio.
“Judo” Jim Wallhead is a 21-fight veteran and is 2-1 against UFC veterans, losing only to Denis Siver via armbar in 2006 after dominating for the first eight minutes. With an 8-2 record in his last 10 fights, he was also on the UFC’s radar, earning an alternate spot at the UK tryouts for the past season of “The Ultimate Fighter.” He’s not the most enthralling personality, which probably cost him a spot on the show, but fighting is why fans watch anyway.
Strengths: Clinch, takedowns, control and finishing ability
Places to Improve: Off his back
The Could Haves
Abdul Mohamed: There’s a video floating around the internet of Dana White praising Abdul Mohamed. There’s a reason for that.
James Zikic: The light heavyweight London Shootfighter is a decade-plus veteran of the sport and with matches against Cyrile Dibate, Jeremy Horn, and Vitor Belfort on his resume. The former professional boxer and K-1 fighter came up on the losing end of each but does have a win over Evangelista “Cyborg” Santos to his credit. He’s an inactive fighter, but it’s likely due to a dearth of opportunities. He recently turned up on a UFC Countdown show as a training partner.
Jean Silva: While not a native Englishman, “The White Bear” is a Brazilian based out of London Shootfighters and has been on the UK circuit since Cage Rage 1 in 2002. He seems to always come up short against top competition, but his Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt make the former Chute Boxe fighter a formidable addition to any organization.
Brad Pickett: WEC featherweight champion Mike Thomas Brown believes his friend “One Punch” Pickett can compete in the WEC and is trying to bring him stateside. Brown’s recommendation means a lot, and a six-fight win streak, with his last loss coming against Japanese standout Hideo Tokoro, doesn’t hurt either. At 145-pounds though, the scrappy Pickett would have to compete in the UFC’s baby brother the WEC.
The Maybe File
Tim Radcliffe: With a recent win over Abdul Mohamed, Radcliffe seems to be unfairly placed in the maybe file, but at 9-2 and with only two years experience, he’s best served developing over a few more fights to avoid becoming another Jason Tan. He’s a fighter that’s competent in all departments with solid cardio to bolster those talents.
Ross Mason: Mason is an exciting striker with an affinity for engaging fights. Stylistically, he can entertain in the UFC. Unless he gets a ground game, though, it spells a short Octagon career.
Update 8-19-09: According to Ian Dean of the UK promotion Cage Warriors, “it’s unlikely Ross Mason will fight again after being nearly killed last year in an attack on a night out.” FIGHT! extends our well wishes and hopes that Mason returns to a full, active life regardless of whether it involves MMA or not.
Mark Epstein: Epstein is the Don Frye of British MMA—a blue-collar fighter with no filter for his words. Over 40-years-old, he’s been inactive for over a year, but it’s been his dream to fight in the UFC (or anywhere for that matter). He’s a fighter, a pioneer of British MMA. And for that, one night in front of a London crowd would be a kind courtesy of the UFC resulting in a nice slugfest.
Before Georges St-Pierre owned the welterweight division there was Matt Hughes. The good ol’ boy from Hillsboro, Ill. was one of the first fighters to lead the charge when the UFC exited the “dark ages” and began its march toward becoming a major sports league. The former two-time NCAA Division I All American wrestler has a list of UFC accolades a mile long: Most wins in the UFC (16), Most UFC title defenses (seven), Most consecutive title defenses (five), Most wins in the welterweight division and the list goes on and on. He is still recognized today as the most dominant UFC champion in the history of the company. Even though he is entering the twilight of his legendary career, Hughes continues to fight top tier competition. On Sat., April 12, Hughes will step into the cage with Renzo Gracie as the two iconic figures will fight in front of thousands at UFC 112: Invincible. Before that fight takes place, Fightmagazine.com offers at look at some of the best and worst moments of Hughes’ historic career.
UFC 34: 11/2/01
Def. Carlos Newton by KO (Slam) – 1:27 of Round 2
Carlos Newton was fresh off of defeating Hughes’ mentor Pat Militich at UFC 31 so the fight had duel storylines entering UFC 34. As long as Militich was champ and Hughes was part of Militich Fighting Systems, he wouldn’t get a shot at the welterweight title. In essence, Newton’s bulldog headlock submission victory was a blessing in disguise. With this being one of the first UFC events during the Zuffa era, Hughes had an opportunity to make a statement by avenging the leader of Militich Fighting Systems and claiming the welterweight title. The statement was made by one of the most brutal slam knockouts ever witnessed.
Hughes started off the first round big and scored against the talented Newton with a bevy of high impact slams. But Newton – a talented fighter in his own right at the time – showcased his Jiu Jitsu pedigree by reversing Hughes twice and it looked as if the two would battle to a stalemate. That was until the second round provided “The Slam Heard ‘Round The World.”
During the second frame, Newton locked in a deep triangle choke from the bottom position that looked like it would immediately put the All American to sleep. It actually did, but not exactly how Newton planned it. As a matter of fact, Newton never got to see the effects of the choke. As Hughes found himself struggling to survive, he lifted Newton high into the air, walked him from the center of the Octagon and draped the Canadian along the top of the cage. Newton cinched the choke in as tight as he could while pulling Hughes head down for added pressure. In a last ditch effort, Hughes pulled Newton off the cage and slammed him via power bomb with the impact only seen in World Wrestling Entertainment. The slam knocked Newton out cold and referee John McCarthy awarded Hughes the match and the championship. What McCarthy didn’t notice was that the choke had put Hughes to sleep at nearly the exact same moment. As Newton lay motionless on the canvas, Hughes would regain his senses and seemed almost shocked himself at what just transpired. To this day, it is one of the most memorable moments in MMA history.
UFC 52: 4/16/05
Def. Frank Trigg by Submission (RNC) – 4:05 of Round 1
There was a tremendous amount bad blood between Matt Hughes and Frank Trigg entering UFC 52. Trigg had already dropped his first bout against Hughes and was seeking revenge. Hughes, never one to seem upset, was visibly perturbed by Trigg’s antics and wanted nothing more to shut him up. It was one of those fights with a storyline that could turn a casual fan into a die-hard MMA junkie.
The stare down was epic in and of itself. Trigg and Hughes stared holes into one another as referee Mario Yamasaki ran down the usual fight protocol. Not one to be intimidated, Trigg stepped forward and went nose to nose with Hughes. A tough guy in his own right, Hughes gave Trigg a shove as Mark Goldberg proclaimed “Now that’s a stare down baby!” The fight itself wasn’t too shabby either.
About a minute into the fight, Hughes and Trigg were jockeying for position within the clinch. Hughes pushed Trigg to the fence but took a shot to the groin courtesy of a “Twinkletoes” knee. Hughes winced in pain and looked in the direction of Yamasaki for help. All he got was a three-punch combination from Trigg as he retreated in obvious pain. As Hughes sank to the canvas, Joe Rogan already declared that Hughes was out. Trigg continued to pelt away with vicious strikes but Hughes managed to survive. What followed next was one of the most amazing sequences ever witnessed in an MMA bout.
With Trigg fully mounted and looking to finish, Hughes rolled over and gave his back to the Judo expert. Trigg immediately sank in a rear naked choke and it looked as if he would avenge his loss to Hughes by using the exact same move that put him away two years ago. As Hughes began to fade to black, he turned into Trigg’s armpit and escaped what looked to be an inevitable loss. Hughes would then somehow manage to muster up the strength to scoop Trigg off the canvas, run the entire length of the cage and slam him to the mat. With the crowd going absolutely berserk at what they just witnessed, Hughes transitioned from side control into full mount. He then offered some ground and pound of his own before Trigg gave Hughes the gift of his back. What Trigg couldn’t do, Hughes gleefully obliged. Just like UFC 45, Hughes sunk in a rear naked choke, got Trigg to tap and completed one of the most unbelievable comebacks in UFC history.
UFC 60: 5/27/06
Def. Royce Gracie by TKO (Punches) – 4:39 of Round 1
Hughes was on a roll and staking his claim as the greatest welterweight of all time. He had just steamrolled Georges St-Pierre, Frank Trigg and Joe Riggs consecutively with first round finishes. It appeared that there was nobody left on the current UFC roster that could defeat Matt Hughes. But perhaps someone from the UFC’s past could shake things up. That individual was the legendary Royce Gracie.
It was billed as the “Dream Match” with Gracie setting the standard in MMA with his submission fighting and Hughes representing today’s evolved fighter. The stage was set at UFC 60 inside of Los Angeles’ Staples Center to see if it was time for the torch to be passed or if Gracie was still the mythical figure many made him out to be.
It didn’t take long to find out that the legendary Brazilian was a mere mortal to Hughes’ superman. Gracie Jiu Jitsu was a nonfactor as Hughes wasted no time taking the legend to the mat and quickly securing side control. As Gracie looked to wriggle free and find an opening, Hughes shocked everyone inside of the home of the Los Angeles Lakers with a kimura attempt. Gracie had never been submitted inside of the Octagon but Hughes was putting a tremendous amount of torque on the arm with the submission attempt. Realizing the Brazilian was never going to tap, Hughes let the arm go and swiftly transitioned to Gracie’s back. With both hooks sunk in, Hughes proceeded to flatten the legendary jiujitsu practitioner and began raining punches to the head of Gracie. Some thought that Gracie could somehow survive the final 30 seconds of the first round, but Hughes continued to clobber his opponent until referee John McCarthy saved the legend from anymore punishment at the 4:39 mark of round one.
The victory not only proved that Matt Hughes was the gold standard of today’s well versed MMA fighter, it also stretched the appeal of Hughes beyond the cult MMA fan.
UFC 46: 1/31/04
Loss to BJ Penn by Submission (RNC) – 4:39 of Round 1
It’s certainly no joy to step into the cage with BJ Penn. Hughes found that out the hard way when the two squared off at UFC 46 for Hughes’ Welterweight title. Hughes was on a thirteen-fight winning streak and was looking almost indestructible. Penn was moving up in weight to challenge Hughes as the champ had cleaned out the division and was seeking new challenges. Hughes was heavily favored to win, but there’s a reason why they call Baby Jay “The Prodigy.”
“We’re going to find out if (the move up in weight) is courageous or foolhardy,” Joe Rogan said as the two met in the center of the Octagon. The questions about how Penn would handle the weight jump were answered immediately. An ill-fated takedown attempt found Penn falling into Hughes’ guard, which was certainly something that Hughes wishes he could have taken back. The Hawaiian swarmed Hughes and put his incredible ground game to work. After jockeying for a dominant position for nearly the duration of the round, Penn finally snaked his way to Hughes back with just under a minute left and went right for the kill. Seconds later, Hughes was tapping to Penn via rear naked choke and failed to defend his welterweight title for the sixth time. It wasn’t that Penn was a huge underdog who won the title, it was the fact that he made it look so easy.
UFC 79: 12/29/07
Loss to Georges St-Pierre by Submission (Armbar) – 4:54 of Round 2
The first time Hughes lost to GSP, you could write it off as a bad night by one of the all-time greats. The second loss signaled a changing of the guard in the welterweight division. It was originally scheduled to be a bout between Hughes and the man who knocked out GSP, Matt Serra, at UFC 79 as both were coaches on The Ultimate Fighter. But when Serra went down with an injury, St-Pierre stepped up and the stage was set for a rubber match to decide who would become Interim Welterweight Champion.
A newly refocused St-Pierre made mince meat out of Hughes the second time around. It wasn’t that Hughes had become a lesser fighter, it was the fact that “Rush” had taken his game to new heights. From the outset it was clear that GSP was leaps and bounds ahead of Hughes. The country boy couldn’t take St-Pierre down in the first round. When the fight did get to the mat, courtesy of a beautifully executed takedown by the French-Canadian, Hughes found himself dominated like never before. At the end of the first round, St-Pierre was in complete control and Hughes was searching for an answer.
It didn’t take long for St-Pierre to get Hughes to the mat in the second stanza. Even though the collegiate All-American would rise, he found himself being outclassed by GSP. After being tossed to the mat yet again, Hughes found himself victim to a kimura attempt as “Rush” looked to close the show. Hughes valiantly tried to muscle out of the submission attempt, but found himself trapped in a vicious armbar that gave him no choice but to verbally submit and hand the future of the division to Georges St. Pierre.
UFC 85: 6/7/08
Loss to Thiago Alves by TKO (Strikes) – 1:02 of Round 2
The whispers that Matt Hughes was in the twilight of his career were growing to a howl when Hughes stepped into the Octagon against Thiago Alves.
Twenty seconds into the bout, Hughes shot for a takedown but Alves shrugged him off and set the table for what was to come. Another failed takedown attempt forced Hughes to pull guard in order to get the fight to the ground. The “Pitbull” would have none of it and smacked Hughes with a punch before getting back to his feet. Hughes would finally take Alves down, but could not inflect any serious damage. It was the second time that Hughes was not the strongest man in the cage since Georges St-Pierre dominated him six months earlier.
The second round saw Hughes’ face pay the price for a failed takedown as Alves clocked him with a knee as Hughes shot for the legs. The former champ was bloodied up and Alves was searching for a way to finish. After a few moments on the ground, both Alves and Hughes would scramble to their feet. Hughes was looking for another takedown attempt but Alves skipped away and created some space away from the now battered welterweight. The “Pitbull” then came flying at Hughes and caught him with a knee to the temple that collapsed Hughes – injuring his knee badly – and spelled the second straight loss for one of the UFC’s all time greats.
It was evident that the field not only caught up, but was now running past the future Hall Of Famer.
After visiting Black House our FIGHT! Life series continues with former UFC Heavyweight Champion, King of Pancrase, Pride FC commentator, and co-host of Inside MMA, Bas Rutten. In this video, “El Guapo” talks about childhood illnesses and bullying and how this led him to take up martial arts and eventually fight back. Produced and directed by Matthew Ross. Shot by Marc Rizzo and Randy Ward. Edited by Ashley Cahill and Ryan Jackson-Healy.
VANCOUVER, British Columbia – The locals fearing a barbarian horde were met with a kindler, gentler, more loving UFC on Thursday as the fighters, UFC president Dana White and even Vancouver mayor Gregor Robertson took turns sharing laughs and mutual admiration.
“It’ll be like Woodstock on Saturday,” White mused.
UFC 115 takes over General Motors Place on Saturday. The event had the fastest sell-out in UFC history (30 minutes), but almost never happened. A variety of issues, not the least of which was the lack of a sanctioning body and the usual misperceptions surrounding cage fighting, almost pulled the plug on the Vancouver event.
“Even after 10 years, this is one of the sports that still has to prove itself. People are sometimes afraid (that) the UFC is coming to town and there will be riots. People are afraid of THIS event? Go to a Red Sox-Yankees game. Go see the Raiders play sometime.”
The main event features former light heavyweight champion Chuck Liddell versus former middleweight champion Rich Franklin. In the co-main event, Mirko “CroCop” Filipovic fights Pat Barry.
Chuck Liddell is headlining Saturday, but it wasn’t so long ago that Dana White was unilaterally announcing “The Iceman’s” retirement. Following Liddell’s loss to Mauricio “Shogun” Rua at UFC 97 in April 2009 – his third knockout loss in five fights, White said the one-time UFC poster boy was finished.
Not so fast.
Liddell had no plans to retire. Buoyed by a spot on “Dancing with the Stars” and a shot at hated rival Tito Ortiz, Liddell trained harder than ever before and stayed out of the nightclubs. Liddell looked svelte on Thursday and White explained his past reasoning.
“My biggest issue with Chuck was his lifestyle,” White said. “He became literally the biggest MMA fighter in the world, but he wasn’t living (right). He has turned himself around and got himself in fantastic shape.
“He (used to be) a zombie. You can’t go out and party every night and roll into a fight. It doesn’t work.”
But after the television camera’s left, White changed his tune, expressing doubts about Liddell’s future and chin.
“My big beef with (Liddell) is why,” White said. “He has everything. I think it should end. If this (fight) goes like a few of his previous fights, I think he would make the call (about retirement).”
But White added that another brutal knockout might force his hand.
“We will see,” he said. “If not this fight, then maybe the next one.”
Enter the comedy duo of Mirko “CroCop” Filipovic and Pat Barry. The heavyweight kickboxers will fight Saturday, but Barry has been outspoken about heroic admiration for CroCop and the normally stoic Croatian has also taken a shine to Barry.
“He is an amazing guy,” Filipovic said. “I met him at the hotel yesterday ad we talked. He is a really nice person.”
As the press conference started, Pat Barry fiddled with the microphone, laughed to himself and even mumbled in a daze while eyes were elsewhere.
“I am honored just to be sitting up here with these three guys, because that means that I am almost LIKE them,” he said.
After the press conference, CroCop and Barry hugged and exchanged genuine and, given the circumstances, odd laughter.
“I can tell Mirko is uncomfortable with how Pat Barry feels about him,” White said. “I don’t think he has had an opponent talk to him like that.”
Surprisingly, CroCop and Barry had the room reeling with their comic stylings. CroCop is the straight man. Barry, well… “I am a buffoon.”
“If I beat CroCop on Saturday, I’m going to go home and stare out the window for two years,” Barry said.
“(That can happen) even if he loses,” CroCop added. “If I land a high kick, he might stare out the window for two years too.”
CroCop sported a long, fresh, but superficial scratch on his forehead. When asked about it, the former Croatian policeman deadpanned, “I was training late last night. Two ladies came and they scratched me. I’m OK, but they are not.”
Barry played the role of vicarious hero to the hilt: “I’m like a kid up here. I don’t know whether to use the bathroom or throw-up. I’m shaking my head to see if I was awake. All my childhood dreams of being a ninja (are) really coming true.”
However, Barry grew serious when confronted with the tactics of fighting.
“I know it will be him or me,” he said. “I have seen what he can do and I don’t want to feel any of that.”
Once an oddity, Canadian events will become commonplace if White and UFC Canada honcho Tom Wright have anything to say about it.
“Canada is very important to us,” White said. “Frank, Lorenzo and I didn’t see this coming, but Canada has been a huge market for us.”
Wright said that he hopes for three UFC’s and an unspecified number of Ultimate Fight Nights in Canada annually.
“You don’t have to be a geography major to see that (Vancouver) is where one might end up.”
But Toronto, by far the largest Canadian metropolis, remains the jewel in the UFC’s eye. Ontario, however, has not sanctioned the UFC. Negotiations are on going.
“Sometimes when you put a time line, you interfere with the process,” Wright said. “We are going to be mindful and respectful of the process.”
Vancouver had problems of its own and, if not for mayor Robertson, might not have hosted the UFC at all. White admitted that this event cost more to insure than others, but declined to provide a number. Vancouver Sun scribe Yvonne Zacharias then put the heat on Robertson to cough up some numbers.
Robertson, who had taken a seat directly in front of Zacharias, turned to her, gave a disapproving glance and wearily trudged to the main stage.
“I don’t have the details about the specific dollars involved,” Robertson said. “It was a complex deal.”