Bell Centre show not happening March 24
The UFC's planned return to Montreal for a pay-per-view card won't be happening on March 24.
The Canadian Press on Tuesday reported that the UFC has been forced to scrap the card, which was to be UFC 145, because of scheduling issues. A total of eight bouts had already been announced by the UFC for the show – though none were expected to be the main or co-main event.
Tom Wright, the UFC's director of Canadian Operations, told The Canadian Press that it was a lack of "a championship-caliber card for a championship-caliber city" that helped lead to the plug being pulled – for now. Wright told The Canadian Press that he expects a replacement show in Montreal still in 2012. The UFC last visited Canada's second largest city for UFC 124 in December 2010.
The report said many of the fights slated for UFC 145 will be moved to the April 21 pay-per-view in Atlanta, which was expected to be UFC 146. And sources with knowledge of the situation confirmed to HeavyMMA on Wednesday that is indeed the plan.
Getting a title fight on the card if it remained on March 24 perhaps was proving to be problematic for the UFC. Bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz is on hold until after Season 15 of "The Ultimate Fighter" and will then face fellow coach Urijah Faber. Featherweight champ Jose Aldo just fought last week. Lightweight champ Frankie Edgar fights next month in Japan against Ben Henderson. The interim welterweight title will be contested in two weeks in Las Vegas while champion Georges St-Pierre, a Montreal native, is on the shelf. Anderson Silva is waiting out an injury and will defend his middleweight belt this summer. And heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos will face Alistair Overeem – but not likely until the summer.
Light heavyweight champion Jon Jones is the only champion who could realistically fight on a March 24 show. But he is expected to face the winner of Rashad Evans-Phil Davis, who fight next week in Chicago, and that would make that title fight a two-month turnaround time – not a realistic timetable. But a month later in Atlanta might be a different story if the Evans-Davis winner emerges relatively injury free. And if not, Dan Henderson is waiting in the wings.
The UFC skipped Montreal in 2011 and instead visited Toronto twice, plus Vancouver. Montreal is home to the UFC's top three attendance marks for arena shows, all at the Bell Centre. The biggest fight slated for the card was a heavyweight bout between Brendan Schaub and Ben Rothwell. Also on the card were fights featuring Canadians Rory MacDonald, Mark Bocek, Mark Hominick and John Makdessi.