MMA event worth looking into

? The other day as I was driving aimlessly around town, which I often tend to do, my mind began wandering towards a discussion that I and my fellow co-workers have had over the last few weeks.
In our conversations, we had been asking each other what sort of different events people in Fort Frances can take part in, or would go out to watch.
Not being from here, and having only lived here for just over five months now, I really didn’t feel I could properly contribute to a discussion on the subject. But as I continued to drive around Fort Frances, the idea hit me.
A mixed martial arts event.
I know what you’re probably thinking, “But Lucas, why do you think that will work here in Fort Frances? Something like the UFC will never come here.”
Yes, that’s probably true with regards to the massive marketing juggernaut that is the Ultimate Fighting Championship, which continues to hold events in increasingly bigger and bigger facilities such as the Rogers Centre.
But there are a number of independent promotions and one-off shows being held throughout the United States. And you’re even seeing local MMA fighters hitting the road to take part in those shows, such as Emo’s Terry Carmody, who won in his debut back in May.
For years, the Ontario government stated that legalizing MMA wasn’t a major priority. Last year, however, it made an about-face and allowed events to be staged here in the province starting this year.
As soon as the announcement was made, MMA fans were ready to go out and support their favourite sport, with 55,724 jamming the Rogers Centre in Toronto for UFC 129 in April, which shattered the attendance and gate records for an MMA show in North America.
But it hasn’t just been the mighty UFC that’s been bringing the crowds to arenas. The Hershey Centre in Mississauga, for instance, brought in enough fans for June’s Score Fighting Series show that it arguably outdrew many games the OHL’s Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors hosted.
Mind you, that is in the Greater Toronto Area. So the question remains, would an MMA show go over well in a place like Fort Frances?
Well, if you’re going to go simply by buzz and interest for those in my age group, also known as the key 18-35 demographic, I think it would be safe to say this is something that would draw a big interest.
However, if you are going to talk to people who aren’t in that demographic, the event might be a bit of a tougher sell.
Plus, as is often the case when anything different from the normal comes to any town, there might be some opposition for those who may find an event such as that to be too violent.
But more than likely, I would think those who were interested in the event for other area locales would be interested in buying a ticket for those who wouldn’t attend.
So would an MMA event fly here in Fort Frances?
It might be too early to make a “yes” or “no” statement, but it is something I believe should be looked into, especially if you want to give younger members of our community something they would be excited about attending.
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If you read my column last week, you may remember I used this space to discuss my excitement about the possibility of the London Knights drafting Russian forward Mikhail Grigorenko first overall in last Wednesday’s CHL import draft.
The Knights, however, instead elected to select Finnish defender Olli Maatta when the draft began, with Grigorenko going second overall to the QMJHL’s Quebec Ramparts.
While Maatta isn’t as hyped as Grigorenko, the blueliner also is considered to be a top prospect for next year’s NHL entry draft, and was a member of Finland’s team at last year’s world junior hockey championship.
I’m sure that Maatta will play well in the OHL. But for someone who was getting super-pumped over the possibility of seeing Grigorenko play fellow countryman Nail Yakupov in the OHL, I’m just a tad disappointed.
Still, there’s a chance both Russians will join forces at next year’s world juniors in Edmonton and Calgary, which would make an already exciting tournament even more intriguing.

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