TORONTO — Canadian fight fans can expect three UFC shows north of the border next year.
Tom Wright, managing director for UFC operations in Canada, Australia and New Zealand, says while the 2016 Canada schedule is still being worked, Toronto and Calgary are at the top of the list with another visit to Atlantic Canada possible.
"We’re looking at three events in Canada and two in Australia and New Zealand," said Wright.
The UFC, in trying to sort out the schedule, is looking at both old and new Canadian venues.
"We’re looking at potentially going back to the East Coast but maybe to a different city than Halifax although we could go back to Halifax," Wright added.
The Canadian schedule could feature one pay-per-view and two televised Fight Night cards.
The UFC planned three to five shows in Canada this year. Only two came to fruition — UFC 186 in Montreal in April and a televised card in Saskatoon in August.
In 2014, the UFC announced a five-city schedule for Canada with pay-per-views shows in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver and Fight Night cards in Halifax and Quebec City. UFC 178 was shifted to Las Vegas from Toronto and the Montreal card was cancelled, cutting the Canadian shows to three.
Former welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre’s decision to step away from the sport took away a major drawing card in Canada. Some believe the sport of MMA is over-exposed these days.
But Wright says he does not think the weak Canadian dollar is a factor yet north of the border, saying on average Canadian shows do well at the gate.
He pointed to the UFC trying to accommodate a limited number of events, especially on the pay-per view front, to a growing number of countries around the globe.
Wright says Calgary has climbed up the Canadian pecking order. Montreal, meanwhile, will not host a 2016 show because it staged one this year. Vancouver is under consideration but not for 2016.
The UFC has held 19 shows in Canada, with stops in Calgary, Halifax, Montreal, Quebec City, Saskatoon, Toronto, Winnipeg and Vancouver.