UFC president Dana White announced earlier today on his personal twitter account (twitter.com/danawhite) that UFC 115 – Liddell vs. Franklin has sold out in just 30 minutes. The event is set to take place on Saturday, June 12th and will be hosted at GM Place in Vancouver, British Columbia, which is the largest metropolitan area in Western Canada. This is the same city that just hosted the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in February. It is also the second Canadian city that the UFC will visit, after making three successful trips to Montreal, Quebec, starting in April 2008 with the second trip coming in April 2009. The third sell-out trip to Montreal will be UFC 113, which will take place on Saturday, May 8th.
The demand for a UFC event in Western Canada has been strong due to the huge popularity the sport of MMA has been enjoying inside the country. Canadian fans account for 15 to 20 percent of the UFC’s business, which Zuffa has stated is their largest per capita success story. That demand then became a reality in December, when the Vancouver City Council had passed a resolution to regulate MMA for a two-year trial period. The now defunct Bodog Fight organization and other events had hosted events in the city before 2007, but the city council suddenly disallowed the sport for the next two years due to concerns over liability in the event of an injured fighter.
Now that Zuffa, specifically UFC vice president of government and regulatory affairs Marc Ratner, have helped get the sport of MMA regulated in Vancouver, the next course of action was to reward the city for their efforts. The economic impact that a UFC event has on a city is undeniable. Millions of dollars are injected into the local economies via the hotels, restaurants, transportation, and touritst activities that the thousands of fans, fighters, and personnel spend money on over the course of a UFC weekend. The courtesy of visiting newly regulated locations was done in the states of Tennessee and Pennsylvania last year. After they regulated MMA, the UFC hosted two shows in Tennessee and one in Pennsylvania. The UFC also has plans to host their first show in Dana White’s former stomping grounds later this summer, now that Massachusetts has regulated the sport.
However, the UFC will first host UFC 115 in Vancouver on June 12th, even after a brief scare potentially threatened to move the event in early March, when reports surfaced that the Vancouver Athletic Commission had still not put any regulations in place to promote the sport professionally in the city. After that wrinkle was ironed out and the event was greenlit, the final piece to the puzzle was announcing a main event for Vancouver’s first UFC fight card. The original plan was to have longtime rivals and current TUF 11 coaches Chuck Liddell and Tito Ortiz square off for a third time. However, Ortiz was rumored to be injured in March with many suspecting that former UFC middleweight champion and current light-heavyweight star Rich Franklin would step in to face Liddell.
The rumored Liddell-Franklin superfight was originally denied by Dana White via his twitter account, which many believe had to do with him trying to help keep the suspense for the upcoming premier of TUF 11, which is being televised on Spike and features the aforementioned head coaches Liddell and Ortiz. The speculation was then finally laid to rest yesterday, when it was confirmed on UFC.com that the main event would in fact be a light-heavyweight bout between Chuck Liddell and Rich Franklin. Dana White also added the following comments about UFC 115 via UFC.com: "Our Canadian fans are among the most loyal and enthusiastic in the world, and we are thrilled to bring the UFC to Vancouver. We want to thank Mayor Gregor Robertson and our partners at Canucks Sports and Entertainment for helping to make UFC 115 become the first UFC event in British Columbia.”