(The Octagon will touch down for the first time in Toronto in April.)
During a press conference in Toronto at the Air Canada Centre today, UFC president Dana White announced that the promotion will make it’s first foray into Ontario when it hosts UFC 131 in the city on April 30 at the Rogers Centre.
Although no match-ups were revealed for the spring card, but White may have thrown out a clue about one possible participant of the event during the presser when he reiterated his statement that UFC welterweight champ Georges St-Pierre is the most popular athlete to come out of Canada.
White also announced that the city will also be treated to a UFC Fan Expo that weekend and that the event will be held at the Direct Energy Centre. CagePotato.com is in the process of planning a booth for the show to try to eclipse the popularity our extremely popular Boston UFC Fan Expo spot.
It’s no coincidence that a transparent "letter" written to White by Minister of Consumer Affairs John Gerretson, (the politician in charge of sanctioning the sport in Ontario) "leaked" to the media yesterday. In the letter, Gerretson stated that Ontario had finalized its MMA ruleset and would now begin taking applications from promotions wishing to hold events in the province and almost as though they knew of the announcement beforehand, the UFC, who just happened to be in town for a fighter signing appearance were able to throw together a last-minute press conference to announce that they have a Toronto date.
According to sources I spoke with, the Ontario Athletic Commission has yet to begin hiring or training commissioners or officials to regulate events and they are apparently in no hurry to do so as they are content with using the UFC-provided referees, judges and ringside physicians. As such, the April event could very well be the only MMA event the province sees until at least the middle of 2011.