Canadian city hosts UFC event for first time
The UFC will visit Calgary, Albert, Canada, for the first time in July, and featherweight champion Jose Aldo will headline the card – though his opponent is not yet determined.
UFC president Dana White made the announcement for UFC 149 Wednesday afternoon in Calgary. The UFC event there will be the first in the city, which has a population of more than 1 million, making it the third largest city in Canada behind Toronto and Montreal. The event also will be the first UFC show in the province of Alberta – though the WEC, under the Zuffa banner before it was merged into the UFC, held WEC 49 in Edmonton, about three hours north of Calgary in Alberta.
"The headliner here will be Jose Aldo," White said. "He'll be defending his title here. We don't know (his opponent) yet. We're still working on it. You know I want to bring a sick card here, so we're going to bring a good one to Calgary – I promise."
Aldo's opponent could come from the winner of the May 15 UFC on Fuel TV main event between Dustin Poirier and "The Korean Zombie," Chan Sung Jung. That's the most likely scenario, though the winner would need to come out of that fight relatively unscathed and ready to fight again just over two months later.
UFC 149 will take place at the Scotiabank Saddledome, an arena that seats nearly 20,000 for NHL games as the home of the Calgary Flames, who have played in the arena since its opening in 1983. The venue also hosted ice hockey and other events during the 1988 Winter Olympics, which took place in Calgary.
White said the decision to go to Calgary for the first time was an easy one.
"We were due to come here," White said. "It's a great sports city. We're coming for the next two years, and then we'll go from there."
White would not confirm any additional fights for the card, but said announcements would be rolling out over the next several weeks. UFC middleweight Jason MacDonald, an Alberta native, was on hand for the event and said he hopes to be able to fight on the card in July, even though he is booked for UFC on Fuel on May 15 – and he would love to have that be his retirement fight.
"I'm thrilled to have the UFC in Calgary," MacDonald said. "It's a dream come true for me. The best fans in the world are here. I'm excited on a personal level. I've got a tough fight in May, but I really hope to be a part of this show and I hope to retire on the Calgary show. That would be extra special for me."
The UFC was scheduled to hold an event this Saturday in Montreal, but that show was ultimately changed to UFC 145 next month in Atlanta. The UFC held three events in Canada in 2011 – UFC 129 in Toronto, 131 in Vancouver and UFC 140 in Toronto. UFC 129 set a North American record for gate and attendance with more than 55,000 fans filling the Rogers Centre for a gate north of $11 million. UFC 140 in December was held at the Air Canada Centre. The UFC has held four events in Montreal (UFC 83, UFC 97, UFC 113 and UFC 124) and one other (UFC 115) in Vancouver.