Early Monday, March 4, Ace Burpee came to my office and asked me if I had heard anything about the press conference at the MTS Centre. True North Sports and Entertainment was holding one to announce what they called a “Major Sporting Event”. Hopes high that this was a UFC event, I started poking around. Local promoters shrugged at the idea while others in the media “didn’t think it was a possibility”. Then I noticed that the event page for UFC 161 on June 15, 2013 listed venue as “TBA”, and location as “TBA/Canada”. Did I read that right? Canada? This HAD to be it. I did my MMAth. The announcement had to be UFC 161 in Winnipeg. Had to be. I tweeted it out. An hour later after my tweet, multiple sources confirmed it.
The official word came the next day, Tuesday, March 5 at the MTS Centre. Tom Wright, former CFL Commissioner, now Director of Operations of UFC Canada announced that UFC 161 will be airing live via pay per view from Winnipeg Saturday, June 15, 2013. Stating that Winnipeg was the next logical choice to bring a UFC card. He said that we proved we are a great sports town and venue with our Winnipeg Jets, Blue Bombers and Goldeyes. Wright also pointed out that since Winnipeg is basically the centre of North America, it is an easy choice for those from other provinces to travel here for the card. Not to mention the proximity to US cites like Fargo, Minneapolis, Chicago, etc.
Whether or not you are a fan of MMA, there is one thing you absolutely cannot deny – the economic impact for Winnipeg is going to be a windfall. Wright mentioned other Canadian markets making upward of $35 million plus, which would be a tremendous boom for our economy. Tom Wright said that when the UFC comes to town, it is not just a one night affair. In fact, it is a weeklong event. With fighters coming in to do meet and greets, media, open work outs and weigh-ins open to the public.
One thing Tom Wright repeatedly stated was that he did not do the match making and therefore could not officially announce what fights will make the card. However, he was able to give us one fight and it was a big one: Mauricio “Shogun” Rua versus Antonio Rogerio “Lil’ Nog” Nogueria. Other fight rumors are Tyrone Woodley vs Jake Shields, Rashad Evans vs Dan Henderson and a possible Flyweight Championship fight with title holder Demtrious Johnson defending against John Moraga.
I cannot tell you just how elated I am to finally have a UFC fight card happen right here in Winnipeg. A big thanks goes out to True North Sports and Entertainment for not only did they make this happen, their work in bringing back the Winnipeg Jets also helped put this great city back on the international map. By the way, the tweet I sent out before anyone really knew anything – Communications Coordinator for TNSE, Kallen Qually, let me know that I was the first to report it. I broke it before anyone else did. Filipino Journal – For the Win.
UFC 161 takes place Saturday, June 15, 2013 at MTS Centre. Tickets go on sale to the general public, Friday, April 12, 2013. Pre-sale tickets are available to members of the UFC Fight Club on Wednesday, April 10, 2013.