Tagged: UFC

UFC: Jones wins, Bisping vs. St-Pierre back on, and more news from the week


Well, I was hoping to post this UFC news update earlier in the week, when the real news was all happening. Now, I’m posting it on the same night as a Fight Night 114 card from Mexico City. Anyway, updates on that are here.

Frankly, all the real news happened last week in UFC 214, when Jon Jones KOed Daniel Cormier in round 3 to win back the light heavyweight title. Jones is now saying he wants to be a better champion than he was previously, when he was suspended due to drug use. I hope so.

And we hear the Michael Bisping-Georges St-Pierre bout is back on. It was on, then it was off again, and now finally it’s a go in New York this fall at Madison Square Garden.

Meanwhile, we’ve been getting news about who will be on the card for UFC 215 in Edmonton this September. The main card includes Demetrious Johnson versus Ray Borg and the co-main is Amanda Nunes versus Valentina Shevchenko. But of course, everyone is unimpressed with this second matchup because these two were supposed to be the main event at UFC 213 in which Nunes mysteriously chickened out of appearing in, dropping due to illness (supposedly). So nobody really trusts Nunes to actually show up. We’ll see; if Nunes skips out on a fight again, boy, will the Edmonton fans all be mad.

It sounds like the UFC fight in Edmonton is selling lots of tickets locally, but pay-per-views might be a different story. The main issue is it’s competing for attention right now against this overhyped circus act that is the Floyd Mayweather-Conor McGregor boxing match on Aug. 26. That is where the real interest is among fans, but I dunno why we all care because it’s still a joke. The latest news from that is that McGregor’s sparring partner has quit, apparently disgusted with the buildup to the bout.

That’s all; now back to watching the Mexico fights.

It’s on! Thoughts on Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Conor McGregor 


August 26 has been set as the date for boxing’s next Superfight! It is indeed Floyd Mayweather Jr. versus Conor McGregor, in Las Vegas.

But I dunno if boxing fans are all that impressed. I notice a lot of them on social media have flat-out blasted this fight. They used words such as “joke,” “farce“, “pointless”, a “circus”, and even “dogsh!t” to describe this contest. 

A lot of people think Mayweather will win easily. But no matter who wins, honestly, does it matter? 

Here’s the question I have: is there even a title on the line with this thing? Mayweather is a former champ who vacated all his belts when he retired, as far as I know. Meanwhile, McGregor is a UFC champ but not a pro boxing champ! In fact, I read this will be his first boxing match, ever. 

So, if there is no real title on the line, what’s the point? Then again, maybe some sanctioning body will invent one for these two.

Anyway, this fight is on, and the interest is insane, and it is supposed to be a $1 billion dollar fight. We shall see. 

The news today is the UFC is coming to Edmonton, Sept. 9!


Well, the big announcement was made today. After years of rumors and waiting, the UFC has announced it is finally having a show in Edmonton! It is UFC 216, happening Sept. 9 at Rogers Place. 

This pay-per-view is the first event under the UFC banner in Edmonton, although it should be noted there was a WEC 49 event in the city back in June 2010. WEC were owned by the same company, Zuffa, that owns UFC.

No cards have been announced for this latest event yet. I’d be interested in finding out who’s fighting before I shell out for tickets. If this card is any good, I’m thinking I ought to maybe make the drive there myself to see the fights (assuming I’m still living here in Sask.).

All in all, these are exciting times for a city still enjoying the Edmonton Oilers playoff run in their brand new, major-league arena downtown. 

As an aside, this news is yet another example of why ESPN is failing! They are ignoring the interests and tastes of a wide range of sports fans. If you are a fan of sports like mixed martial arts, or hockey, or NASCAR or horse racing or other sports like that, then good luck finding coverage anymore on ESPN! I guess ESPN still shows soccer games occasionally, but these others? Tough luck! I am willing to bet a big reason why so many people aren’t watching ESPN anymore is because they are disenfranchised fans of these very same sports. For them, ESPN truly is a waste of money nowadays. So, that’s my rant.

That’s that for that news, and I look forward to tuning in tonight to coverage of the NFL Draft.

Georges St-Pierre to make comeback against Michael Bisping, and more UFC news


The coverage of tonight’s UFC 209 is starting on TV so I am going to need to be quick with the news from UFC this week:

I guess the big news is that Canadian UFC money train Georges St-Pierre is coming back and will be fighting for the middleweight title against Michael Bisping later this year, likely in Las Vegas. The press conference the other day was something else. 

Also, the UFC announced they are going to be an anchor tenant at T-Mobile Arena, with at least four events a year.

As well, tonight is UFC 209 in Las Vegas with Tyron Woodley and Stephen Thompson fighting for the welterweight title again, but yet again we have seen fight card chaos with an MMA promotion, because Khabib Nurmagomedov had to pull out of his co-main event fight with Tony Ferguson at the last minute.

That will have to be it for now.

UFC on FOX 21 is on in Vancouver!!

It’s official: UFC sold for a whopping $4 billion!!!


So, on this otherwise slow sports news day, we have huge news. The UFC has been SOLD to WME-IMG, Silver Lake Partners, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts and MSD Capital for a staggering $4 billion dollars! Dana White stays on as President. 

This deal had been rumored for weeks, even though White was denying it. I’m not sure what it all means for the sport; hopefully it doesn’t mean any big changes. For his part, White says it will take the sport to the next level. I hope so. If it means more free TV exposure, that would be a good thing. Oh, heck, my main worry is these new folks in charge will start to act like the NFL and be too big-time for their own good, and start forgetting about the smaller markets — and the fans.

Four billion bucks. That is a lot of money. So… does this mean Arianny Celeste gets a raise? 

This news comes on the heels of a successful UFC 200 at the brand-new NHL hockey arena in Las Vegas, which saw Miesha Tate upset by Amanda Nunes for the women’s bamtamweight crown, a fight in which Tate’s face got mangled up pretty badly, while Saskatchewan resident Brock Lesnar won his thrilling fight over Mark Hunt. 

Next up for the UFC — a trip to South Dakota on Wednesday for UFC Fight Night. That will be much-needed sports television for the fans, because other than the Baseball All-Star Game there’s absolutely nothing going on this week.

I don’t want to talk about Dallas anymore. Now, the sports: NBA, UFC, etc.

On to other more enlightening topics, shall we? Such as NBA free agency.

The news keeps on happening for NBA fans. The latest big news this week is that Dwyane Wade has bolted the Miami Heat for the Chicago Bulls. Two years, $47.5 million. This has to be a shock to Miami fans because of how long he has been with the Heat, but it sounds like negotiations went straight downhill earlier this week. To be honest, this move isn’t the travesty of Durant’s move, because Wade had a good career in Miami, and he won a lot of titles with the Heat, and so on. 

Anyway, I don’t feel the least bit sorry for the Miami Heat organization — what goes around comes around, I say. (As for Chris Bosh, I say he’s welcome to return to Toronto any time.)

Tomorrow night is the big UFC 200 event in Las Vegas, and of course it got thrown for a loop when Jon Jones flunked his drug test, scrapping his big title fight with Daniel Cormier. As it turns out Anderson Silva has stepped in at the last minute to fight Cormier and save the card. But man, as a UFC fan this is totally disappointing. I think this is probably the end of Jon Jones in UFC, this guy is just a train wreck on a personal level. Dana White is royally ticked off.

And on Sunday Portugal takes on France in Euro2016, and maybe I’ll get a chance to watch the game — something I haven’t been able to do much of all tournament.

That is all for now.

Like everyone else, I’m not impressed with the UFC’s banning of Ariel Helwani


The latest big freaking controversy for the UFC is what went down this weekend with their UFC 199 show at the Forum.

No one is talking about the fights today. Instead, they are all talking about how small-time the UFC looked after they revoked MMA reporter Ariel Helwani’s press credentials and banned him for life
The reason: Helwani broke the story that Brock Lesnar was coming back to the UFC to fight at UFC 200. 

This is a major story, and when you think of it, it’s actually a really good-news story for the UFC, the fact that Lesnar is returning. You would think they would all be pleased. But no. Apparently, from what I gather online, breaking this news upstaged the “official announcement” that the UFC had planned for UFC 199, so that’s why they were mad at Helwani and kicked him out. 

A lot of people — just about everyone in the media — are really hopping mad about this and cannot believe what happened. It sure looks like the UFC is expecting reporters at their events to be “shills” for their product, instead of doing what they are paid to do, which is report breaking news. 

Heck, I’m sympathetic to Helwani’s situation here because there have been too many events that I have gone to, as a reporter, where organizers regard the media as nothing more than glorified publicity agents. Then, when we end up reporting the “real” news instead of promoting whatever their “message” is, they get mad. It’s typical.

Anyway, that is a rant for another day. Personally, as a sports fan, there is no way I want to see sports reporters acting as shills for any sport – it just damages their credibility when they do that. I expect to see them report the good and the bad, and telling it like it is. The fans expect honesty, that is what they deserve.

Moreover, fans love it when these sports reporters are out there breaking scoops. Heck, that’s what they do on TSN and Sportsnet with their NHL “insiders” during their “trade-deadline” and “free-agency” coverage. These reporters aren’t bossed around by the NHL and told to wait for “official announcements” whenever some big deal is brewing. Instead, they break the stories, which is what the fans expect. Moreover, it’s good for the game when these scoops happen, it keeps the interest up. 

Why the UFC won’t let reporters have the same free reign to do their jobs is mind-boggling, because muzzling the media is just plain self-defeating for any sport.

Helwani was on his online show The MMA Hour today and was very emotional about the whole situation. He was basically crying on the air about what had happened. I do hope cooler heads will ultimately carry the day and that Helwani can go back to doing his job reporting at UFC events.

Update: and now comes word Helwani is reinstated. Good. Still, hardly impressed by this whole situation.

While in Cuba, I missed all 13 seconds of Conor McGregor’s UFC fight with Jose Aldo

 On Saturday night I was preoccupied with leaving Cuba. Had I been at home in Canada under normal circumstances, I might have gone to the casino to see the Conor McGregor-Jose Aldo UFC 194 featherweight title fight live on TV.

As it turns out, the fight lasted a grand total of 13 seconds as McGregor knocked Aldo out to win the title. It was the fastest knockout in UFC history, beating Ronda Rousey’s record by one second. Anyway, I’m glad I didn’t miss much. The UFC fans who paid good money to watch the fight, though, are probably none too pleased.

It turned out I also missed out on seeing Golden State lose to Milwaukee to end their 24-game winning streak to start the NBA season. Like I said, leaving Cuba was my priority on Saturday night.

UFC Fight Night 74 was bizarre, to say the least

  
Well, I caved. At literally the very last minute, I shelled out the money to go to UFC Fight Night 74, and I’m glad I did. I decided that it would be hypocritical of me to continue to call myself a fight fan if I didn’t attend this UFC event live when I had the chance.

Besides, it’s good for your mental health to do things you enjoy doing — such as, in my case, watching the fights.

However, as Charles Oliveira found out in the main event against Max Holloway, it is not good for your health to actually be in the fights. 

In the very first round Oliveira ended up going down with what turned out to be a torn esophagus. It’s fair to say fans were just stunned by the sudden ending, they were wondering ‘what the heck is going on’?!

It was a strange way to end a fight, and it left everyone with a sour taste in their mouths seeing Oliveira carted off on a stretcher to the hospital. 

I know this sport can be vicious, but I saw just how gruesome it can get with my own eyes last night. Still, despite this, MMA is a safer sport than auto racing (and on that note, RIP Justin Wilson).

I plan a big writeup for the paper on this weekend’s activities in Saskatoon. Until then, here are some links: 

MMA Mania’s account of the fight night.

Also, Bloody Elbow’s play by play.

MMA Junkie reports on the Twitter reaction to Holloway’s injury TKO win.

Plus, the story on the attendance. Honestly, I cannot believe attendance for this wasn’t better than 7202, especially since we’re supposed to be this pay-per-view hotbed.

Finally, the local view from 650 CKOM.

That’s it!!!

UPDATE (Sept. 1): My first-person story for the News-Optimist about the fight weekend is now up. 

It’s fight week in Saskatoon! UFC Fight Night 74 Holloway v Oliveira!!

  
You know, the closer we get to this thing, the more pumped I am about the UFC coming to Saskatoon.

You are starting to see more promotion of it now, particularly at the various SIGA casinos which have been hyping UFC for the longest time. In fact, I may get to cover one of their pre-fight events. Randy Couture is scheduled to be at Dakota Dunes Casino on Whitecap Dakota First Nation on Saturday, and we got a media invitation from SIGA so as it stands now it looks like I’ll go — out of boredom, really.

The thing that bugs me the most has been the general lack of local media coverage for this UFC fight. I’m finally seeing quite a bit of coverage now in the Star-Phoenix, but apart from them it’s been terrible, and quite honestly I don’t get it. 

Maybe I’m simply tuning into the wrong local TV and radio stations. In fact, that’s likely the entire problem — I need to listen to more FM hard-rock stations instead of these AM ones that tailor their programming to the boring people.

The province’s radio sports talk shows (AM radio, obviously) have barely spent any time on the UFC. I think CKRM spent about ten minutes on the UFC yesterday. Mainly, these folks continue to devote most of their efforts towards their nonstop obsession with the CFL and the Saskatchewan Roughriders. (Who, I should point out, are 0-7.)

With all due respect to the ‘Riders, they aren’t going to be shown on Fox Sports 1 to millions of people in the United States, or around the world for that matter. This UFC Fight Night 74 event may not be the most compelling card in MMA history in terms of big names, but it’s the first UFC event in Saskatchewan and the biggest sporting event in the province this week, or even this year for that matter. Based on what I’m reading about what is in store at SaskTel Centre, it sounds like Saskatoon is in for quite a production. The card itself seems solid, and I understand ticket sales are strong.

People ought to be bloody excited! And who knows, maybe they are, but you wouldn’t know it from our media.

In any event, if you want any real coverage of this, forget CKOM/CJME, CKRM, and everyone else here, and tune in to MMAJunkie Radio on SiriusXM. Hopefully, they’ll say something about the fight. It’s sad that in order to find coverage of a Saskatchewan fight night that you must listen to a show from Las Vegas, but at least these guys are knowledgable. 

As well, look for tons of articles on MMAJunkie at USA Today, and also SB Nation’s MMA Mania. There is also Fox Sports. And there are a few other sites such as MMA Fighting, MMA Weekly, Sherdog, Bloody Elbow and others. It is so cool seeing Saskatoon mentioned on various MMA fight websites that usually talk about big events in Vegas and places like that.

Here’s a roundup of some of the news out there about the fight night:

First, here is the card as it stands now. 

Also, as you know there has been a slight change to the card as Neil Magny has replaced the injured Rick Story in the fight against Erick Silva.

Sportsnet has up this story about the Canadians on the card.

Here is a schedule of events going on throughout the Fight Week, which includes the UFC Experience, open workouts and autograph sessions with some of the fighters. I notice there will also be ones with the ring girls Chrissy Blair and Vanessa Hanson.

I notice MMA Mania has up predictions for the prelims here and here.

Finally, here’s a story about Brock Lesnar dissing Dana White’s sales abilities compared to Vince McMahon, a piece in which we are reminded that UFC Fight Night 74 in Saskatoon is up against WWE SummerSlam and therefore is going to be killed in the TV ratings. 

Yikes! Well, hopefully somebody will tune in the fights on Sunday.

Press conference today for UFC Fight Night 74 in Saskatoon!

 

Today was the UFC’s big press conference at SaskTel Centre about their upcoming UFC Fight Night 74 in Saskatoon on August 23. 

Some more details emerged about the fight card, which also now includes Rick Story versus Erick Silva as a co-main event to the Max Holloway versus Charles Oliviera card. Patrick Cote takes on Josh Burkman in another fight, and the list goes on. 

But who cares about those guys. What I really want to know is whether Arianny Celeste and Brittney Palmer will be there, too! These ring girls are worth the price of admission all by themselves. 

(Ha ha ha, I’m only sort of kidding.)

Anyway, the other news is tickets are going to go for as low as $50, and that’s good because that’s about all I can possibly afford. No doubt, though, there will be plenty of jokers out there who will say “this card isn’t even worth that kind of money!”

Whether or not I go to UFC Fight Night will entirely depend on how quickly these $50 seats are snapped up. If too few cheap seats are put up for sale, I might just end up sitting at home on Fight Night. Tickets go on sale Friday.

Also, I found another article on the UFC event in Saskatoon, saying UFC owes the city a good card. We’ll see if these fights are any good. 

In any event, whatever news value this press conference had today in the world of MMA was drowned out by stories that featherweight champ Jose Aldo might have injured himself, throwing in jeopardy his much-anticipated upcoming UFC 189 fight with Conor McGregor. 

Update: apparently the Aldo-McGregor fight is still on.

It’s happening! UFC Fight Night in Saskatoon August 23!

 
The much-rumored Saskatchewan UFC fight card has indeed been confirmed for August 23! SaskTel Centre in Saskatoon will host UFC Fight Night 74, headlined by featherweights Max Holloway and Charles Oliveira

The wiseguys out there will probably go “who the heck are they?” Well, what do you expect? This is a Fight Night, folks, not some pay-per-view. But hey, I’ll take it. If this fight draws well, maybe we can get a full UFC pay-per-view title card here somewhere down the road. 

The official press conference will be next Wednesday. Tickets go on sale two days later — hopefully the prices won’t be too ridiculous.

Saskatchewan finally gets a fight commission, now will it get the UFC?



The news from the other day is that the Saskatchewan government is finally legislating an athletics commission, with the commission expected to be up and running and able to accept applications by April. Rumors have been rampant for months about Saskatchewan as a possible locale for a UFC event, most likely at SaskTel Centre in Saskatoon. This latest news about a fight commission should get the rumor mill flying even more, because up to now this lack of a commission was the one big holdup to getting MMA events held here. 

According to the story that ran in the Star-Phoenix, UFC Canada has circled August 23 for an event in Canada, and has apparently placed holds on several buildings. 

Here’s some food for thought: August 23 falls on a Sunday, and the event on that date is slated to be a “Fight Night” for Fox Sports 1. The longstanding rumor has always been that the first UFC event in Saskatchewan would be a “Fight Night”, not a pay-per-view event. 

Other food for thought: I did some digging and found out the Saskatchewan Roughriders host a CFL home game the day before, on August 22 versus Calgary. 

My point is, any UFC event on August 23 would have no direct competition with the Saskatchewan Roughriders, which leaves the UFC free and clear to set an event for that night in the wheat province with no fear of a conflict and with every expectation of a sellout crowd. Surely Tom Wright, UFC Canada director of operations, realizes this as he used to be commissioner of the CFL.

Just adding to the rumor mill, folks. Doin’ my job.

Pleased to see I didn’t miss much of the Oscars while I was away covering the sports

Checking my Twitter feed upon my return, it sure looks like I missed nothing from tonight’s Oscar show, which looks like it is just as long and boring as it usually is. I was actually on assignment covering an exciting local SPHL senior league hockey game.

After I filed that story, I was able to catch Patricia Arquette’s Best Supporting Actress speech online, and just saw the In Memoriam segment live, which is always a barrel of laughs because of who gets omitted.

Other than that, I feel like I missed nothing from the telecast and I probably am going to continue to miss nothing, as I now switch the channel to TSN to the UFC Fight Night going on in Brazil. See you later.

UFC 183’s main event fighters both flunk their drug tests

IMG_0620Well, so much for UFC 183. Turns out the Main Event tested positive for drugs. Anderson Silva tests positive for steroids. Nick Diaz tests positive for marijuana. And the reputation of that whole sport is once again right back on the canvas.

It is too bad that the UFC is getting such a bad rap for drugs lately, because there have been some good fights over the last month.

Good examples: Fight Night in Boston in which Conor McGregor beat Dennis Siver and then rushed out of the Octagon to challenge Jose Aldo in the seats; and the UFC on FOX fight from Stockholm in which Alexander Gustafsson was stunned by Anthony Johnson in a light heavyweight contest.

Clearly, though, something has got to be done about all this drug-taking before it drags the UFC down any further. There is only so much the paying public will tolerate, and positive drug tests are not among them.

UFC champ Jon Jones wins then goes into drug treatment facility. No way to start off a year

The fight for the UFC Light Heavyweight title on Saturday was an epic battle in which Jon Jones beat Daniel Cormier. A lot of the fans hate Jones, but it was nevertheless a great contest and a great night for the UFC.

Now comes the negative news of the UFC that Jones tested positive for cocaine metabolites and is heading to a drug treatment facility.

Not good news for the sport. I’ve seen the sports-fan reaction on the comments to these stories online about it, and they are just ripping Jones. The fans are really incensed.

I hope folks at the UFC take away some lessons from this episode. Other sports — baseball and cycling in particular — have had more than enough drug problems. And those sports have paid a steep price with the fans. The UFC has to ensure their own athletes don’t take them down the same path, and pronto.

TSN continues to wheel and deal, adding UEFA Champions League and possibly UFC

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I continue to find the business of sports TV to be fascinating in Canada in the wake of the big Rogers NHL deal that kicked in this fall.

Seeing how TSN has responded to this has been fascinating. A lot of commentators had claimed TSN would be decimated. And in the short term it seemed that way, given that the two top sports properties in Canada — the NHL and the Blue Jays — were locked up by Rogers.

The reality, however, is that there were a lot of other sports rights out there that Rogers was going to have to pass on, given that they broke the bank for the NHL to the tune of upwards of $5.2 billion dollars. On top of that, TSN had a lot of money available to spend and programming holes to fill.

So they locked up the CFL long-term, locked up the NFL on Sundays, locked up a ton of ESPN programming including more baseball, and they continue to have a ton of NBA basketball and international hockey including the World Juniors. So they are not in bad shape at all, now, in my opinion. And now comes word that TSN has locked up some more rights to some important sports.

Starting next season, TSN will be home of the UEFA Champions League and Europa League. This is big news, it adds a ton of high-level midweek soccer to the TSN lineup. I suppose we ought not be surprised that this is leaving Sportsnet, because Sportsnet’s main midweek programming is the Wednesday night NHL package, and it’s pretty difficult to re-air any of the afternoon Champions League games in prime time when you’re showing hockey.

In any event, this adds to TSN’s soccer commitment, which already includes half the Premier League and most of MLS, and reduces the Rogers commitment significantly.

We are also waiting for word about Canadian rights to the UFC package and I point you to this story that suggests TSN is about to acquire the rights to the UFC, though no official announcement has been made.

If this is indeed happening I consider it great news, because for the last while Rogers has been consigning its UFC programming to Sportsnet360, a channel I don’t have in my cable package. So I haven’t been happy for that reason, but Dana White and crew cannot be happy with Rogers turning Saturdays into their big NHL night, either. This basically reduces UFC to total second-class citizenship by Sportsnet on that night. So it would not surprise me at all if they walk over to TSN, simply for that reason.

I think TSN may emerge as a long-term winner with these rights acquisitions. Slowly but surely, they are locking up the rights to the sports that matter to younger sports fans in Canada — and those are soccer, the NBA and the UFC. Those sports have a lot of growth potential in this country, in my view. And speaking of the NBA — folks at TSN must feel they have really lucked out due to the impressive performance so far of the Toronto Raptors.

UPDATE: Done deal!! Here is TSN’s announcement about the UFC.

UFC Fight Night is in Halifax tonight. When, oh when, are they coming to Saskatchewan?!

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Tonight is the UFC Fight Night event in Halifax. The timing of this has brought out all the usual rumors about how Saskatchewan might get a UFC event one day. The speculation is that it will be one of these UFC Fight Night promotions that are shown live on national television.

My reaction is that an event cannot come soon enough. In fact, the fact that Halifax got the UFC before we did drives me up the wall. As a Saskatchewanian I am sick of the lack of big-time sporting options here. All we have is the Saskatchewan Roughriders, and while I like football like everyone else, the truth is I am sick of hearing about them all the time on the radio and TV — especially when they are losing, like they are right now.

Besides, we need something to do once the CFL season is over. Since the NHL isn’t putting a team here any time soon and there’s no hope of getting Major League Baseball, our only hope for the big time is the UFC.

I have no doubt a UFC event would be a big hit in Saskatchewan, the sport is heavily promoted in all the local casinos and the pay-per-views do very well. The best venue would be the almost 16,000 capacity SaskTel Centre, which has proven itself through hosting countless major sporting events and major concerts.

From my standpoint, the sooner the UFC comes here the better. Then I’ll be able to attend the fights and hopefully also stand in line and get autographs from my favorite ring girls Arianny Celeste and Brittney Palmer.

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So enough with the rumors, Dana White, just get on with scheduling the event already because the fans here are desperate! We have waited long enough for the fights.

GSP TAKES A STEP BACK

Georges St-Pierre is taking a break. He announced that news today and as a result he is relinquishing his welterweight title. This news is not all that surprising given his comments following the last fight, in which he mused publicly about his future. Dana White spoke about it and said GSP made the right decision. That’s interesting because White was wanting a rematch and was really ranting and raving when GSP made his initial comments after the last fight musing about stepping away from the fighting game. I guess White has calmed down since then.

He may yet return at some point down the road, but in any event, this is sad news for St-Pierre’s fans across Canada. The main reason why MMA and the UFC is so popular in Canada is largely, and mainly, due to GSP and his victories. The UFC will have a big hole to fill, at least in Canada, in the short term.

FOX SPORTS 1 LAUNCHES ON A BUSY WEEKEND FOR SPORTS FANS

Well, the momentous occasion has finally arrived: the launch happens for Fox Sports 1 tomorrow as they begin their quest to take downFoxSports! ESPN.

No doubt, they should benefit by attracting plenty of broadcasting talent who might be repelled by the thought of living in dull and boring Bristol, Connecticut.

On board are such famed and heavily-promoted sportscasters as Erin Andrews and Charissa Thompson — and that’s just the girls.

They also plan an NFL panel show daily and plenty of live action. Their big launch tomorrow includes — what else — a UFC fight.

They’ll even have Regis Philbin doing a show, and of course a couple of funny guys from some place called Canada are anchoring there, too. Here’s a rundown on what to expect. Fun stuff.

The good news for fans is that the channel will be seen in all the cable markets, too, as Fox dropped their outrageous demand for .80 cent per month carriage fees. Had they held firm with that demand, we all faced the prospect of yet another cable carriage dispute a la the CBS-Time Warner fiasco. Instead, the deal is done and Fox Sports 1 will be distributed nationwide at a low-low price of .23 cents a month.

The bad news, of course, is this is the end of SPEED. No doubt auto racing fans will be crying for weeks on end, but business is business.

The launch of the sports-cable wars couldn’t come at a busier time for sports fans. Not only is this another big baseball and NASCAR weekend, but the NFL pre-season is going full blast and the NFL Network has been running those games nonstop.

To top it off, the new Barclay’s Premier League season opens tomorrow and NBC Sports plans to go absolutely nuts covering that as they launch their three-year deal.

What? You didn’t miss them while they were gone?  I cannot blame you. With all the international and Major League Soccer action on TV all summer, soccer really doesn’t have an off-season at all.

THOUGHTS ON THIS WEEKEND’S ANDERSON SILVA UFC 162 SHOCK DEFEAT

Speaking of upsets it was a huge shock to the MMA world thisUFC162 weekend when UFC middleweight champ Anderson Silva lost in a second-round KO to Chris Weidman in Las Vegas.

I didn’t see the fight (being cheap, etc.), but I understand it really was the comeuppance for the showboating Silva, who has this bad habit of taunting his opponents. Well, this time, his antics caught up with him and he got decked. Serves him right.

Now that the biggest current name in MMA is out as champion, you would think UFC boss Dana White might be a little concerned. Nope! Seems he’s rubbing his hands with glee over the prospect of a Silva-Weidman 2 rematch. Well, he should be so happy.

This ought to be a gravy train for the UFC. Seriously, this last fight with this shock result may have proved to be the best thing to happen to MMA in a long time. Everyone is talking about this fight and how big an upset it is, and that’s good for the sport.

UFC 161 TONIGHT IN WINNIPEG. WHEN THE #$%& IS SASK. GOING TO GET THE UFC??!!

Just want to let you know people in Saskatchewan are very happy Winnipeg is hosting UFC 161 tonight at MTS Centre — but we’re also a little annoyed. Why them, and why not us?Ufc_logo

People here in Saskatchewan want to get the ball rolling to bring a UFC event to Saskatchewan as soon as possible, especially since we have venues here to be able to do it. Credit Union Centre in Saskatoon is exactly the right size for the UFC. Even folks at the UFC seem interested in the idea. Heck, if they wanted to have a fight outdoors, they could even set it up at Mosaic Stadium. Yet nobody on high in Saskatchewan seems to be in any hurry to get an athletic commission established to make any UFC event a reality any time soon.

So while we are all sitting back and doing nothing, Manitoba has gone and beaten us to the punch yet again. This is getting to be sad and pathetic.

You know, folks in Saskatchewan like to look down on Manitoba and say what a nothing province that place is, compared to all our wonderful jobs and natural resources and so on. We keep on telling ourselves how great we are compared to them, but we really do need to face the reality that the province next door to the east has a lot more going on than we do these days.

Here’s some of what they have that Saskatchewan doesn’t have: (1) a film industry (we kicked ours out), (2) a major — underline, major — comedy festival, (3) professional baseball and a baseball stadium (Winnipeg Goldeyes), (4) an NHL TEAM!! (Winnipeg Jets), and (5) a brand-new CFL football stadium (something we might get one of these days).

I think they even have the ballet, too, come to think of it — not that I’m excited about that.

Now, Manitoba is going to have a sold-out UFC event and Sask. still isn’t even close. We ought to be embarrassed! We seem all too interested in passing up on sure-fire tourism dollars and exposure all over North America. People in Saskatchewan love the UFC and want to see fights here, yet nothing is happening. Just this week, CTV News did a story on how local fans aren’t getting a chance to see any UFC card here, all because we are too slow to get an athletic commission started. So as a result, our fans are having to leave the province to see fights, and our fighters are having to leave the province to fight, too.

For the moment, it looks like the closest we are going to come to seeing the UFC in Saskatchewan is watching the fight on TV at the local bar, as usual. Anyway, we really need to get moving with getting the UFC here. I’m sick and tired of seeing Manitobans have all the fun in life. That’s my rant about that!

THE UFC NEEDS TO COME TO SASKATCHEWAN

With UFC 158 in the books in Montreal and with Winnipeg next to host a UFC event, folks in Saskatchewan are salivating about Ufc_logoone day hosting the UFC, too.

Read a story where the UFC’s Canadian director of operations Tom Wright talked openly about bringing the UFC to Saskatchewan and possibly hosting an event here. His comments have understandably gotten all the local fight fans excited. Of course, the issue he identifies in the story is the familiar one of having no fight commission in place to regulate the pros.

It wouldn’t take much to change that, though — all you have to do is create a commission and then the UFC could come here in no time. 

Honestly, I don’t know what this province is waiting for; they should get on with doing a deal to bring the UFC here. Among other things, the most suitable venue, Credit Union Centre in Saskatoon, is exactly the right size to host a major UFC card. It would be the biggest sporting event to ever hit Saskatoon should it happen, and likely the biggest in this province, too –even more than the Grey Cup. There is no doubt an event here would sell out in no time flat.

Heck, I see how all these bars and casinos around here promote the UFC, and I see how much business they do on fight nights. These places are packed, folks.

One night, our newspaper held our Christmas party at a local establishment that was showing UFC fights, including one with Georges St.-Pierre. That place was just packed with fight fans cheering for GSP. So there’s no doubt in my mind the UFC would be a hit here in this province, just as it is everywhere else in Canada.

If you were to ask me when would be the perfect time to host a UFC fight card, the perfect time is the spring. There’s a whole dead period right between hockey and the football season, from April to mid-June, when there really isn’t much going on sports-wise in Saskatchewan. That would be the perfect time for a UFC card — it would bring tons of tourists to the province and liven up life in general. 

I say whatever needs to be done to get the UFC fights here, get it done — quit waiting already.

UFC AND F1 TONIGHT

UFC-158It really is a big night for sports. Tonight is UFC 158 in Montreal featuring Georges St-Pierre vs. Nick Diaz for the UFC welterweight title.

Sportsnet and Fox Sports have the live coverage

Also, later tonight the Formula 1 season goes ahead in Australia with the Australian Grand Prix, and being a big F1 fan I am very happy about that. F1 coverage here from the BBC.

With all this going on I almost don’t miss football. Almost.

EVEN DANA WHITE ADMITS UFC 149 SUCKED

Lucky for me, I did not bother to plunk down good money on this lousy UFC 149 fight night in Calgary.

I gotta say, though — I respect Dana White for going up there and telling it like it is with respect to this fight card at the post-fight press conference. He went up there and basically said the whole main card sucked, with the exception of the main Bareo-Faber event which he thought didn’t deserve the boos that it got. But the other main card fights were a disgrace, and White was dead on in saying it wasn’t the Ultimate Clenching Championship, it was the Ultimate FIGHTING Championship. 

Anyway, good on him for admitting the obvious and not resorting to the usual BS we have come to expect from the other sports. The UFC will come back and rise again. Better luck next time.

UFC 149 IN CALGARY PROVING TO BE QUITE RAVAGED BY INJURY

This is a big sports weekend for our neighbours in frozen Alberta. Edmonton will be host once again to Indycar with the Edmonton Indy. Sadly, the event goes this year without Danica Patrick, who’s left for NASCAR — nor, tragically, Dan Wheldon.  

Not to be outdone, folks down in Calgary have a big event of their own: UFC 149 at the Saddledome, the first UFC event in the Stampede city.

Unfortunately, despite a promising start with a fast sellout of the event, this has turned into an injury-riddled, absolute gong show of an event so far, and we haven’t even seen a single fight yet.

The headlining fight was supposed to be between featherweight champion Jose Aldo and Erik Koch. Unfortunately, that card was scrapped due to an injury to Aldo that sidelined him.

To make matters worse, another fight on the card was also scrapped when  Antonio Rodrigo “Minotauro” Nogueira withdrew from a heavyweight fight against Cheick Kongo.  And other fights involving welterweight Thiago Alves and light-heavyweight Thiago Silva were also scrapped due to injuries to them. 

So now the card has been totally rearranged and is headlined now by an interim bantamweight title fight between Urijah Faber and Renan Barao. Fans are, not surprisingly, beside themselves and not happy about having already paid good money for tickets to a fight card they didn’t want, or expect, to see.

Sadly, that is the risk you take when you plunk money down on the UFC — you run the risk that injuries will ravage the card you paid good money to see, leaving you with tickets to a second-rate fight night. It’s too bad what happened, but hopefully it won’t completely sour people on the UFC in Calgary and that maybe they’ll come back and try again in the future. This event simply got hit with a lot of really bad luck.