Interviews

Tom Wright: UFC Canada-head chats MMA

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Few have done more for mixed martial arts in Canada than Tom Wright.

In 2010 Wright was named as the Director or Operations for the Ultimate Fighting Championship because of his extensive resume and was a huge factor in getting the sport legalized in Toronto and selling out the Rogers Center (formerly Skydome) with over 55,000 people for UFC 129.

Before working with the UFC he was the 11th commissioner of the Canadian Football League serving between 2002 and 2006. Also, Wright was the President of Adidas Canada and President and CEO of Salomon Group North America.

One of the biggest hurdles Wright is looking to overcome right now is getting the sport legalized full-time in the state of Vancouver.

In 2009 the Vancouver City Council approved a two-year trial period for MMA opening the doors for the UFC and other promoters to do business in the city during that time.

UFC ran two events in Vancouver, British Columbia during this time including UFC 115 with Chuck Liddell’s final fight against Rich Franklin and UFC 131 featuring Junior dos Santos blistering the face of Shane Carwin.

Now that the trial period is over Wright and his team are working towards getting the door open for MMA 365 days a year.

“We still have to have the authority to sanction for the city of Vancouver to go forth; right now the two year trial period is over. The report from the Vancouver Athletic Commission has not been presented to city council yet but I expect that’s going to happen sometime in March.”

Wright continued to explain that there are problems with the sport not being regulated on a provincial level.

“With the absence of a provincial athletic commission, the regulatory and sanctioning responsibilities are handled individually. In some places they feel they can handle it and in others they don’t” he said.

“From my perspective, speaking for the sport of mixed martial arts, what I’m interested in is a level of consistency and continuity and while you just don’t know if Victoria would be different than Burnaby, would be different to Richmond, than would be different than Vancouver to use those as an example,”

He continued “It’s important that we have that level of consistence for fighters safety, development of athletes, development of referees or judges and making sure that there’s a level playing field”

Rumors have been circling for months about a possible UFC event taking place in the province of Alberta, Wright weighed in on this rumor.

“I’ve always wanted to take our pay-per-view show into Alberta, it’s a really strong market, it’s a strong as BC [British Columbia] is and it’s a place on our radar, there’s two Cities in Calgary and Edmonton that like Vancouver could easily host a UFC pay-per-view but until such time as Dana and Lorenzo make an announcement you’ll have to wait and see but if I were a betting man I’d say it’s probably coming.”

To check out the entire interview, listen to this week’s installment of MMASucka where Jeremy Brand talks at length with the big-dog of MMA in Canada.

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