Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) light heavyweight kingpin Jon Jones is no stranger to fighting in Canada, having recently defended his 205-pound strap in Toronto on a couple of occasions against Lyoto Machida (UFC 140) and Vitor Belfort (UFC 152).
And yes, even Alexander Gustafsson (UFC 165).
But now that UFC has ordered a second go-round between "Bones" and "The Mauler," which could prove to be the promotion's most lucrative pay-per-view (PPV) event in quite some time, the "realistic" decision to move UFC 178 to Las Vegas was essentially a no-brainer.
UFC Director of Canadian Operations Tom Wright talks to The Star Phoenix:
"The fight of the year was Jones-Gustafsson last year. This rematch is a superfight. Where do you take superfights? You take them to the fight capital of the world. So what's my reaction? My reaction is, I completely understand and it's realistic. Twelve months ago, could we think both of these fighters would end up being in a position, having fought again and gone through whatever training camps and avoiding injuries, that they'd be available for this fight? That's the way things happen. I think you have to have flexibility and be realistic. If you have a fight like this, you take it to the fight capital of the world."
UFC 178 will take place on Sept. 27 inside a venue to be named.
Gustafsson (16-2) dropped a razor-thin unanimous decision loss to Jones (20-1) at UFC 165 in September of 2013. In his first fight since taking the champ to the limit, "The Mauler" held up his end of the rematch bargain by blowing away Jimi Manuwa in the UFC Fight Night 37 event last March.
"Bones," meanwhile, dominated Glover Teixeira at UFC 172 back in May.
Toronto won't get a mixed martial arts (MMA) event in 2014, but is expected to be at the top of the list for next spring. In addition, UFC was recently in Vancouver, and still has plans to visit Nova Scotia later this year, so it's not as if the promotion has blacklisted Canada.
It's just not "the fight capital of the world."