The UFC was careful not to use the word "cancel" in reference to the first time since Zuffa purchased the company 10 years ago that an announced pay-per-view event won’t take place.
A show that was scheduled to be UFC 145 on March 24 at the Bell Centre in Montreal, one of the company’s most successful venues, has been postponed until later this year.
"We made the decision earlier this week that we’re going to postpone our Montreal event," said UFC Canada director of operations Tom Wright. "I don’t have to tell you how important Montreal is as a market for us; the Bell Centre is one of the best venues for our shows. We just decided that we would reschedule the event."
"It doesn’t mean we aren’t coming back to Montreal. We are – we’re expecting to be back in 2012. It was a scheduling issue. That is what it boils down to. Fundamentally, it’s a championship city and we want a championship-caliber card." The culprit seems to be an inability to get anything close to a viable main event for the show. The only matches scheduled for the event when it was canceled were Che Mills vs. Rory MacDonald, Ben Rothwell vs. Brendan Schaub, Mark Bocek vs. Matt Wiman, Mark Hominick vs. Eddie Yagin, Mac Danzig vs. Efrain Escudero, Chad Griggs vs. Travis Browne and Chris Clements vs. Keith Wisniewski – none of which would be considered under normal circumstances even at the caliber of a pay-per-view semifinal bout.
The future of these matches has yet to be determined, whether they would be added to different shows over the next few months or saved depending on when the company could get a return date. Due to the NHL’s Stanley Cup playoffs, the building had to keep all Saturday nights in April and May open – though, as of now, the Montreal Canadiens are far removed from a playoff spot. So the earliest UFC could do a show looks to be June, according to Wright.
There is no timetable, but the plan is still to run 14 pay-per-view shows, with the new date for Montreal being an added event on the schedule. It means the UFC schedule will go silent from a pay-per-view event on Feb. 25 in Saitama, Japan, until an April 21 show at the Phillips Arena in Atlanta – a seeming eternity for a company used to doing pay-per-view events every few weeks.
Wright also said that the company is still planning on doing three major pay-per-view shows this year from Canada: the Montreal show; an August show in a venue not yet finalized; and another trip to Toronto.
"We haven’t finalized our schedule for June, July or August," he said. "It won’t happen in April or May, and as we get to the middle and back half of the year, then those opportunities will present themselves. We want to go back to Montreal. How could you not want to?"
The Bell Centre still has the second-, third- and fourth-biggest crowds in the history of the company, with three shows in the venue drawing in excess of 20,000 people.
There had been talk in recent weeks of headlining Montreal with a light heavyweight title match pitting Jon Jones vs. Dan Henderson. White had said this past week that he didn’t want to announce a match for Jones until after the Jan. 28 Fox show in Chicago and the fight featuring Rashad Evans vs. Phil Davis.
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