MONTREAL — It will be a busy weekend in Montreal for sports.
On Saturday night, UFC 154: St-Pierre vs. Condit takes place at the Bell Centre in Montreal. Then on Sunday afternoon the Canadian Football League’s Montreal Alouettes host the East Final against the Toronto Argonauts at the Olympic Stadium, with the winner going on to the following weekend’s Grey Cup game in Toronto.
Given the combined buzz in La Belle Province for both events, and seeing as the UFC holds an annual Super Bowl weekend event each year in Las Vegas, would the organization possibly consider bringing a similar tradition into Canada during Grey Cup weekend?
Unfortunately for fans of both MMA and Canadian football, UFC director of Canadian operations Tom Wright says no.
“It’s an interesting idea, but it would never work,” Wright told Sportsnet.ca following the UFC 154 weigh-ins Friday.
Despite all the excitement surrounding sports in the city, Wright, who is also a former CFL commissioner, said this weekend was purely coincidence and that a Grey Cup weekend show would not be practical.
“The sports stars just aligned for it to happen because when we chose this date, we chose this date before the CFL season even started, so the East Final could have been in Hamilton, Toronto, even Edmonton for all we knew,” Wright explained.
“The main reason (Super Bowl weekend works) is that Las Vegas is a destination town. They’ve got thousands upon thousands upon thousands of hotel rooms. The 101st Grey Cup is going to be in Regina next November, so if we were to take a show there on the Saturday night of Grey Cup, they don’t have enough hotels to hold the CFL people, let alone our fans that would go to it.”
It’s a fair point since there is no CFL-neutral city in Canada like Las Vegas is for the NFL that would make sense logistically to host a UFC event annually.
The UFC and CFL have partnered up on several occasions — the Hamilton Tiger-Cats were Mark Hominick’s primary sponsor at UFC 129 and this past summer several UFC stars took part in a Calgary Stampeders practice as a part of promotion for UFC 149.
Even though there are no plans for Grey Cup weekend events, Wright said the UFC and CFL will continue to work together in the future.
“If we’re going to go to a CFL city with one of our shows during the summer we’ll absolutely partner with the local club. It proved tremendously successful in Calgary and I can tell you the Stampeders that participated loved it, our fighters that went to their practice loved it, we did a lot of great cross promotions with the Stampeders. So if we were to go to Winnipeg for instance or Edmonton during the summer we’d absolutely partner with those teams.”
Wright will be in attendance at the 100th Grey Cup on Nov. 25 at the Rogers Centre in Toronto.