TORONTO — The UFC will hold five shows in Canada in 2014, including a return to Vancouver and new stops in Halifax and Quebec City.
The schedule, announced at a news conference Wednesday in Quebec City, also calls for fights cards in Toronto and Montreal.
The five shows are up from three in recent years when Toronto and Montreal were constants on the schedule with another city rotating in.
The busy calendar is a nod to the appetite for mixed martial arts north of the border.
“On a per-capita basis, no nation in the world consumes MMA like we do,” Tom Wright, director of UFC Operations in Canada, Australia and New Zealand, said in an interview. “The fact we’ve been able to go from three events to five events is a reflection of that.
“We’ll have three of the (UFC’s) 13 pay-per-views (in 2014).”
Quebec City will host a show for the first time in the form of a televised UFC Fight Night for the live finale to “The Ultimate Fighter Nations: Canada vs. Australia” on April 16 at Le Colisee Pepsi.
The UFC returns to Vancouver on June 14 — for the first time since UFC 131 in June 2011 — for UFC 174 at the Rogers Arena. The MMA promoter opted to stay away because of what it saw as onerous insurance and other requirements that have since been modified.
“Now we’re in a position where we can return and we’re very much looking forward to it,” said Wright. “Vancouver’s been a great city for us, it’s a great MMA market for us — all of Western Canada is.
Toronto gets its fifth show in the form of UFC 178 on Sept. 27 at the Air Canada Centre.
The UFC debuts in Halifax on Oct. 4 with a televised Fight Night card at the Metro Centre.
And the Canadian schedule concludes Dec. 6 with UFC 181 at the Bell Centre, marking Montreal’s seventh show.
Wright says it is too early to speculate on marquee matchups at the Canadian shows.
But rival TUF Nations coaches Patrick (The Predator) Cote of Montreal and Australian Kyle Noke will face off in Quebec City. A lightweight bout between Sam (Hands of Stone) Stout and K.J. Noons has already been announced for the Quebec City show.
The UFC has held 14 pay-per-view shows to date in Canada: six in Montreal, four in Toronto, two in Vancouver and one in each of Calgary and Winnipeg.