CALGARY — UFC Fight Night in Calgary has some amends to make for UFC 149.
The Ultimate Fighting Championship returns to the Scotiabank Saddledome on July 28 almost six years after injuries so decimated the main card that just one of 10 originally-billed fighters stepped into the Octagon.
While the undercard was entertaining, some main-card bouts drew boos. UFC commissioner Dana White’s assessment of his property’s debut in Alberta came with his trademark brutal honesty.
“UFC 149, we can count on one hand on how many shows have actually sucked,” White said that night in 2012. “Tonight is one more finger on the hand.”
It wasn’t a dud from a business standpoint with 16,089 attending and a gate of $4.1 million.
The UFC has since been back to Alberta with last September’s UFC 215 in Edmonton drawing 16,232. White wants the UFC’s next foray into the province to be a spectacle, especially as his 49th birthday coincides with the upcoming Calgary card.
“Dana has taken a very personal and emotional approach to this card,” UFC senior vice-president David Shaw said Wednesday.
“We’re very grateful for the support we’ve got all across Canada, but especially in Alberta because Calgary and Edmonton are both tier one markets for us in addition to Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver.
“We have more fans per capita in Alberta than in any other province in Canada. It should not have been six years since we’ve been back to Calgary, but it has been.”
Tickets go on general sale Friday. Since it isn’t a pay-per-view event and will be carried on CTV 2, RDS 2 and FOX, tickets are cheaper than they were for UFC 149, ranging from $56 to $320 compared to $85-650.
The headliner is a rematch of former lightweight champion and world No. 3 Eddie Alvarez and No. 4 Dustin Poirier. Their bout a year ago in Dallas ended in a no-contest when Alvarez illegally kneed Poirier in the head.
Both fighters are angling for a shot at the title, currently held by undefeated Russian Khabib Nurmagomedov
For Alvarez (29-5 and one no-contest), this is his last fight on his current contract.
“I enjoy putting everything on the line. I do really well in those situations,” the 34-year-old said. “As I get older and I understand myself more and how I perform more, I am purposefully putting myself in those situations because I know how to respond.
“The winner of this fight is fighting for the world title next. That’s what on the line, but what’s always on the line is my skin and my name. My name and putting Dustin Poirier’s name in my resume. Another champion and formidable opponent conquered.”
Alvarez contends Poirier (23-5 and one no-contest) wanted to quit their last bout and that only one of three his knees to Poirier’s head was illegal.
“Anything he says I think he’s trying to save face or make himself feel better about what happened, but I’m just glad he signed again because we’ve been trying to get this rematch for over a year now,” said Poirier, 29.
“There’s a lot of big things riding on this fight for me. I believe one hundred per cent that a win over Eddie Alvarez at this point in my career puts me in line for the next shot at the world title.”
Brazil’s Jose Aldo versus Erik Koch was to be the premiere fight in Calgary in 2012 when Aldo was featherweight champ, but both men were too injured to battle.
Aldo, now No. 2 with a career 26-4 record, gets another chance in Calgary as the co-main bout with No. 4 Jeremy Stephens (28-14).
The top women’s fight features world No. 1 strawweight Joanna Jedrzejczyk (14-2) and No. 5 Tecia Torres (10-2).
“The quality of those six athletes in those three fights are ranked in the top five,” Shaw said. “Each of those could be a main event on a standard fight night.”
Homegrown fighters on the undercard include Calgary’s Hakeem Dawodu (7-1-1) versus Austin Arnett (15-5), as well as Jordan Mein of Lethbridge, Alta., (30-12) taking on Alex Morono (14-4, one no-contest).