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UFC exec Dave Shaw: Edmonton return planned despite commission controversy

EDMONTON – Despite the Edmonton Combative Sports Commission (ECSC) finding itself in hot water for a number of reasons in recent months, the UFC intends to return to the market in the future after a successful debut with UFC 215.

UFC 215, which took place Saturday at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, drew a reported sellout crowd of 16,232 for a live gate of $2,028,307.14.

Although the numbers were solid across the board (even with refunds available following the late scratch of the original main event between Demetrious Johnson and Ray Borg), the ECSC has been under a microscope of late since the death of former UFC fighter Tim Hague following a boxing match over the summer.

The majority of UFC 215 went smoothly, but a controversial non-stoppage by referee Kyle Cardinal during a preliminary card fight between featherweights Rick Glenn and Gavin Tucker brought up discussion of more commission incompetence.

UFC executive Dave Shaw addressed the situation during the UFC 215 post-fight news conference, which MMAjunkie attended, and indicated Cardinal was pulled from any further assignments following the Glenn vs. Tucker fight.

“I had the chance to chat with (UFC Vice President of Regulatory Affairs) Marc Ratner briefly about it – I think his position is it might have been a bit late, as well,” Shaw told reporters. “I guess from our perspective, the commission has got a job to do. It sounds like they did their job. I don’t know if we saw that referee again over the course of the evening. Gavin was a warrior, though. Even in that last 10 seconds you saw him sort of pounding his chin and projecting his strength. He definitely took a beating.”

Shaw said the questionable refereeing, paired with Hague’s death, isn’t going to prevent the UFC from hosting another event in Edmonton. He said the UFC worked closely with the ESCS to ensure fighter safety measures were met, and although everything wasn’t 100 percent perfect, Shaw said the organization won’t be deterred from bringing more fight cards to the city.

“In terms of whether or not we’re going to come back and have another show in Edmonton, we’d love to, for a variety of reasons,” Shaw said. “But from the perspective of the commission working with Marc closely and with his team, I think it’s our view that they did a good job with us this week.”

Exactly when the UFC will return to Edmonton remains to be seen, Shaw said. The UFC’s next event in Canada, UFC on FOX 26, is scheduled for Dec. 16 at MTS Centre in Winnipeg, Manitoba. There’s nothing officially on the books after that, but Shaw said three events are tentatively slated for “The Great White North” in 2018. He didn’t address whether Edmonton would fit into that schedule.

“There’s the kind of whimsical love to come back (but) there’s no date set in stone,” Shaw said. “We’re in Winnipeg in Manitoba in mid-December. … We plan to have three events in Canada next year, probably the same formats as we have this year. Don’t know when we’re going to come back to Alberta. I think we’d love to. It’s always on the radar.”

For complete coverage of UFC 215, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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