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UFC 154 still has not sold out the Bell Centre in Montreal

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Despite being away from the cage for nearly 18 months, as well as being the sport's top pay-per-view draw (and Canadian 'Athlete of the Year' three straight times), the return of Georges St. Pierre has not been enough to sell out the Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. But who's to blame?

Scott Cunningham

What a difference a few years makes.

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Welterweight Champion Georges St. Pierre, who promotion president Dana White referred to as his top pay-per-view (PPV) draw "by far," will finally make his return to the Octagon this Saturday night (Nov. 17, 2012) at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

Right in his own backyard.

Keep in mind, St. Pierre helped put over 55,000 butts in the seats of Toronto's Rogers Centre for UFC 129 and is also a recipient of "Canadian Male Athlete of the Year," an award he's previously bagged and tagged three straight years. In short, he's a pretty big deal in Canada, eh.

So why hasn't UFC 154 sold out?

This writer expected rabid mixed martial arts (MMA) fans to be thirsting for their hero's return. It has, after all, been nearly 18 months since "Rush" fought inside the Octagon, a unanimous decision win over Jake Shields at the aforementioned event in "Hogtown."

And heading into day 60 of the NHL lockout, there's no professional hockey to get in the way.

UFC Director of Canadian Operations, Tom Wright, insists the event will sell out (tick-tock), once fight fans are convinced none of the top names on the card, including Martin Kampmann and Johny Hendricks, will get hurt and pull out. Fool them once, shame on UFC 149, fool them twice, shame on them.

Or is it like UFC 152 something else?

No, I'm not going into a long-winded speech about oversaturation or doomsday scenarios for our beloved sport, but let's be perfectly honest, all the talk heading into this weekend has been about a possible "super fight" between St. Pierre and UFC Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva.

Carlos Condit, the UFC 170-pound Interim titleholder, is just an afterthought.

Good, bad or indifferent, that blame has to be shouldered by the promotion, which in recent months has not only refused to downplay -- but has actually helped encourage -- the call for champion vs. champion in a place as large as Dallas Stadium.

As a result, some fans might see "The Natural Born Killer" as nothing more than a commercial until a future "Spider" fight, a problem compounded if they've already shelled out some Canadian coin to see "Rush" in action at a previous event.

If St. Pierre is destined for a feature presentation, why spend money to see a sneak preview?