UFC back in Montreal again this year?



TORONTO — The UFC is looking to return to Canada later this year.

“I literally just left a meeting where we were talking about that,” UFC president Dana White told The Canadian Press on Tuesday. “We’re looking to come back to Montreal.”

White said the mixed martial arts organization hopes to return in November or December.

Watch Sportsnet Connected Wednesday as UFC president Dana White will be in studio to answer some tough questions.

The UFC made its Canadian debut April 19, drawing a loud and proud crowd of 21,390 at the Bell Centre to see Montreal’s Georges St. Pierre reclaim his welterweight title from Matt Serra. The Canadian card was the UFC’s biggest ever in terms of attendance, its fastest ever sellout, and produced a gate of some $5 million.

“The energy tonight was more powerful here than anywhere I’ve ever been. The fans were amazing,” White said that night.

“Everybody delivered. It was a great night.”

Should St. Pierre dispose of top contender Jon Fitch in Minneapolis at UFC 87 on Saturday night, the stage could be set for a super-fight in Montreal later this year between the Canadian star and lightweight champion B.J. Penn. The Hawaiian fighter has long expressed a desire to return to the 170-pound ranks from 155 pounds to have another crack at St. Pierre, who won a split decision when the two welterweights met at UFC 58 in March 2006 in Las Vegas.

The UFC currently has shows booked through late October, including UFC 88 in Atlanta on Sept. 6, UFC 89 in Birmingham, England, on Oct. 18 and UFC 90 in Chicago on Oct. 25.

White made no mention of who might highlight the next Canadian card but acknowledged that Penn will be watching Saturday’s title fight in Minneapolis closely.

“Obviously B.J. is pulling for GSP because he wants to fight him,” he said.

The UFC had hoped that Penn would remain at 155 pounds to defend his title against the winner of Saturday’s fight between lightweight contenders Kenny Florian and Roger Huerta. But White said he is unsure of Penn’s plans.

“We know that B.J. wants to fight GSP again, especially if GSP wins. But no, we don’t know.”

On the issue of troubled light-heavyweight Quinton (Rampage) Jackson, White said the former champion is physically fine.

Jackson was hospitalized for a mental health evaluation after he was arrested last month in Costa Mesa, Calif., after a five-kilometre chase that began as the result of two freeway collisions and another crash when he allegedly ran red lights in his pickup truck, according to police.

Jackson was booked for investigation of felony evading, reckless driving and hit and run, and released on US$25,000 bail.

“It wasn’t psychiatric at all, it was physical,” said White. “He had a physical condition — exhaustion, dehydration that caused delirium.”

The alleged incident happened after Jackson lost his title July 5 to Forrest Griffin in Las Vegas.

White said Jackson, a California native, had remained in Las Vegas for a week after the fight and was fasting — living on energy drinks alone.

“Bad combination,” said White.

“Physically and mentally he’s OK. Now he’s got some legal problems, obviously.”

NOTES:  A pregnant women who was reportedly injured as a result of Jackson’s reckless driving has miscarried, her fiance told the Daily Pilot. California Highway Patrol officials said 38-year-old Holli Griggs was driving a Cadillac Escalade in the left lane when Jackson sideswiped her while driving along the median lane at about 72 km/h. The couple has retained a lawyer, but hadn’t taken any legal action as of Friday. No charges have been filed against Jackson yet and prosecutors would not comment on any possible charges due to Griggs’ miscarriage. … According to SI.com, former UFC champion Tito Ortiz is set to sign with rival promotion Affliction. He expects to become one of the highest paid fighters in the world, and said what he calls a “ground-breaking” deal could be announced as early as Wednesday. … Canadian Chris Horodecki is a free agent, according to Sherdog.com. Horodecki, a former IFL superstar, is a native of London, Ont., and is one of the instructors at Toronto’s Xtreme Couture gym. It had been rumoured that the UFC was taking over contracts from the IFL, which recently ceased operations.

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