Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

UFC coming to town, but it'll take awhile

Promoter knows about 'Peg, boxing chairman says

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ATTENTION, mixed martial arts fans: The Ultimate Fighting Championship is expected to hold a show in Winnipeg, but not right now.

Reports prior to tonight's UFC 115 were that the UFC plans to bring its shows to several other Canadian markets, including Winnipeg.

Manitoba Boxing Commission chairman Dan Vandal said he could confirm that Winnipeg is on the UFC radar, but that's about it at this point.

"It's definitely too early, but I can tell you that I was at the UFC in Montreal a month ago and they definitely know of Winnipeg," said Vandal, who attended UFC 113 on May 8 in that city when Winnipeg's Joe Doerksen was the only Canadian to record a victory on the night.

"I was at the event and I spoke to Dana White himself, the (UFC) promoter. I introduced myself, told him I was from Winnipeg and he already knew all about Winnipeg and how we have a lot of mixed martial arts fans here," Vandal said. "I believe that we're in their plans somewhere in the future. Where that is, I'm not sure. They've done their homework, they know there's a good market for mixed martial arts in Winnipeg. Having said that, does that translate into UFC coming to Winnipeg? Not right now."

Joel Fingard, Manitoba Boxing Commission executive director, said any promoter wanting to hold an event in Manitoba must apply for a licence from the MBC and secure a date from the venue.

"Right now, this is all speculation. Right now, there's no licences that have been applied for or even inquired about and I know the MTS Centre itself is very interested, but no one from there has been contacted as of today," Fingard said.

Vandal and Fingard will meet with UFC officials in Edmonton prior to the World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) 49 show June 20. WEC is the sister promotion to UFC. Vandal will have a chance to pump up Winnipeg and Fingard will make a presentation to the local boxing commission on the role of commissions at the provincial, municipal and tribal level.

Jerin Valel, the Manitoba Boxing Commission's head official, has been formally invited to referee the card and train local officials.

It is another level of recognition for the 32-year-old, who last month became Canada's first certified MMA officials trainer through Big John McCarthy's COMMAND Referee and Judging School.

Manitoba was one of the first provinces in Canada to sanction MMA under its combative sports umbrella.

ashley.prest@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 12, 2010 D11

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