UFC kicks butt in Canada
Mixed martial arts, or MMA, is one of the fastest growing sports, and the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is the largest promoter of the sport.
With their recent purchase of large rival promotion company, Strike force, the UFC has now positioned itself as the largest fight-promotion company in the world.
Canada is no different. The UFC is becoming more and more popular here, thanks in part to one of the most famous fighters, Quebec-native George St. Pierre.
“It’s great. There is a lot of talent in Canada and it is no surprise they are making it on the world scene of MMA,” says Sheila Bird from BDB Martial Arts, a local MMA training gym.
This popularity has been gained largely since 2001, when the UFC was taken over by current owners, Zuffa LLC and its president Dana White. At that point, the sport was becoming illegal in almost all States and Canadian provinces.
With changes to rules to end some of the more extreme brutality, the UFC has managed to rocket to the top of sports in North America.
Its popularity is evident the ratings of the recent UFC 128 preliminary fights on Spike TV. Despite going head to head against March Madness, the preliminary fights drew an average of 1.3-million viewers and according to Spike TV it received a .85 household rating overall.
“More people are interested in Brazilian Jujitsu and kickboxing because of MMA, they now know which fighting styles are the most effective in real combat,” says Bird.
“We have lots of post-secondary students that train at BDB Martial Arts for many reasons including getting in shape and learning self defense.”
Fulton Blencowe, a first-year Automotive Service Technician, says he’s a fan but that doesn’t mean he’ll be getting into the ring anytime soon.
“Watching UFC has piqued my interest in learning some MMA, not saying I’m going to go sign up for a class or anything but how they attack and defend and the game plan for the fight is interesting,” says Blencowe.
“Personally, I have a good enough time watching the two fighters on the T.V. fight, have some brews with the guys and place some bets.”
The recent expansion of UFC events coming to Canada has created opportunity for Canadian fighters to rise in the ranks.
Calgary fighters can be encouraged by the success of Canadian fighter Nick “The Promise” Ring who was selected to be on the eleventh season of the popular UFC show The Ultimate Fighter.
Winning his first fight in UFC 127, he has the opportunity to work his way up the ranks.
“I think it’s awesome that the UFC is expanding into Canada. Now Canadians have a better chance of being represented through more fighters,” says Blencowe. “(It) lets the other fighters know who they are going up against.”
This increase in Canadian fighters can be seen in the upcoming Toronto fight on April 30, 2011, the first UFC event in Ontario. Out of the 11 fights taking place, nine of them feature Canadians. St. Pierre is featured in the main event.
This will be the third sold out UFC event in a row after two Australian dates. The event at the Rogers centre has already sold out 55,000 tickets.
“He represents Canada and does a hell of a job doing it,” says Blencowe of his favorite fighter. “(He) shows his skills which are well obtained through the specific training coaches he has instead of one coach for all methods and styles of fighting he has a specific coach for each area of the fight.”
St. Pierre won the Welterweight Championship in the first ever Canadian UFC event at the Bell Center in Montreal on April 19, 2008. The upcoming Toronto event will be his sixth consecutive title defense. If he wins, he’ll likely move up to middleweight to fight superstar Anderson Silva in a much anticipated fight.