LAS VEGAS — UFC 178, previously announced for Sept. 27 in Toronto, has been moved to Las Vegas and a planned December date in Montreal is also in doubt.
The September card features a marquee main event rematch between light-heavyweight champion Jon (Bones) Jones and Sweden’s Alexander (The Mauler) Gustafsson. Jones, currently rated the UFC’s top pound-for-pound fighter, won a hard-fought decision the first time they met at UFC 159 last September in Toronto.
UFC president Dana White said there were talks with Toronto, Las Vegas, Sweden and several other U.S. cities about holding the Jones-Gustafsson card.
White said the decision to go to Vegas was a business decision.
"It's a massive fight," White told The Canadian Press on Friday after the UFC 175 weigh-in.
"Let's just say Vegas made a lot of sense," he added. "When you have big fights, there are some cities that want big fights worse than other cities do. And I'm not saying that's the case with Toronto but Vegas really wanted this fight."
He said he could not announce the exact venue because the deal was not done yet. The UFC usually holds fights at the MGM Grand or Mandalay Bay.
While the venues in Vegas are smaller than the Air Canada or Bell Centre, they can charge higher prices. Casinos also welcome the show for the business they bring in.
Asked if the UFC 178 venue would be one of the normal Vegas venues, White said: "Should be, yeah."
In January, the UFC announced plans to hold five shows in Canada in 2014: Halifax, Montreal, Quebec City, Toronto and Vancouver.
Vancouver and Quebec City have taken place and a UFC spokesman said the planned Oct. 4 televised Fight Night card at the Halifax Metro Centre is still a go.
Tom Wright, managing director for UFC operations in Canada, Australia and New Zealand, said the Toronto show will be pushed back to 2015.
As for the planned Dec. 6 show at Montreal's Bell Centre, Wright said the UFC had dates reserved for both December and March and should have a decision in several weeks on which it will choose.
Wright attributed the changes to the need for fluidity in the fight game.
Asked what his message was to Canadian fans in the wake of the schedule upheaval, White said: "Love you guys. I love Canada. I probably couldn't say it enough. But Vegas really wanted this one bad."
The five Canadians shows originally announced for 2014 were up from three in recent years when Toronto and Montreal were constants on the schedule with another city rotating in.
The UFC has held 15 pay-per-view shows to date in Canada: six in Montreal, four in Toronto, three in Vancouver and one in each of Calgary and Winnipeg. The Quebec City card was a televised show.