UFC ANNOUNCERS REMAINING 2016 SCHEDULE
KEY DATE COULD INDICATE GSP RETURN
The UFC officially announced its schedule for the rest of 2016, and one date could potentially lead to the return of Georges St-Pierre after more than 3 years on the sidelines.
At yesterday’s UFC 204 press conference, UFC V.P. of Public Relations Dave Sholler announced 12 cards taking place between Oct. 8 and Dec. 30 including a Dec. 10 date in Toronto, Ontario for UFC 206. The significance of this date is that it is exactly four months after St-Pierre re-entered the USADA testing pool on August 10. UFC and USADA had previously announced that retired fighters must be subjected to four months of testing before being eligible to return to fighting. Although an exception was made for Brock Lesnar leading up to UFC 200, St-Pierre volunteered to waive a similar exemption.
If St-Pierre were to fight at UFC 206, it would be his second ever fight in Toronto after headlining the debut event in the market, UFC 129, an event that set the then UFC attendance record (55,724) and is still the largest UFC gate of all time ($12.075 million) (source: MMAPayout.com).
Besides the already announced November 12 show at Madison Square Garden, notable shows on the schedule include a double bill of shows on November 19 in Belfast, Northern Ireland and a location in Brazil to be determined, a December 9 Fight Night in Albany, New York, and UFC 207, which will be the annual year end show on Friday December 30, a deviation from the traditional Saturday night pay-per-view time slot.
Hiscoe’s Analysis: There’s too much coincidence in the dates to overlook the possibility of GSP making his return in Toronto. It’s a natural fit, and will be sure to sell out the Air Canada Centre after hosting Jon Jones for three straight shows (UFC 140, 152, and 165) that did okay but not great.
I’m not crazy about the double header on Nov. 19. When they did a few of these back in 2014, it was just too much UFC for one day. These 6 hour shows on a near weekly basis are more than enough as it is and doubling that plus accounting for the fact that neither card will likely have huge marquee value, doesn’t make it any more appealing. That said, they need to keep feeding the beast as they have to serve Fox Sport’s needs and they also want to have several international shows on Fight Pass each year, so availability of dates at the respective arenas may have necessitated doubling up.
SATURDAY NEWS NOTES…
-All fighters made weight for tonight’s UFC 202. Notable is Conor McGregor came in at 168, 3 lbs under the maximum allowable weight of 171 lbs.
-Police were present on stage at the public weigh-ins Friday as Diaz and McGregor squared off. Diaz faked a punch towards McGregor and there was a minor scuffle but no contact was made between the two fighters.
-The sale of UFC from Zuffa to WME-IMG was finalized on Friday, ending the tenure of Lorenzo Fertitta as CEO.
-Dana White claimed someone was injured in water bottle throwing fiasco at Wednesday’s UFC 202 press conference in an interview with TMZ.
-Dan Henderson continued to promise retirement win or lose following his UFC 204 Middleweight Championship fight with Michael Bisping at a Friday press conference.
(MMATorch is introducing a Daily News Digest where with one click each day you can get the top story of the day with added analysis, plus smaller tidbits in the News Notes section. Michael Hiscoe is a new MMATorch live events reporter and editorial columnist. He has written reviews for movie websites such as DVDTown.com and MovieMet.com in the past. He has been an avid follower of MMA for over 10 years and now provides his experienced writing and perspective on live MMA events for MMATorch.)