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UFC exec David Shaw bullish on Canada, says 'business as usual' despite recent death

EDMONTON – As of Wednesday, UFC executive David Shaw said UFC 215 was on the “verge of a sellout” with just a few hundred tickets remaining for the pay-per-view event at Rogers Place.

Of course, that was before UFC flyweight title challenger Ray Borg fell ill, forcing officials to cancel the pay-per-view event’s headliner just a few hours before Borg (11-2 MMA, 5-2 UFC) was scheduled to hit the scale with champ Demetrious Johnson (26-2-1 MMA, 14-1-1 UFC). A women’s bantamweight title rematch between champ Amanda Nunes (14-4 MMA, 7-1 UFC) and Valentina Shevchenko (14-2 MMA, 3-1 UFC) is the new main event.

Whether UFC 215 remains a sellout in the wake of refund offers is anyone’s guess. But Shaw is still bullish on the promotion’s prospects for its first trip to Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

Part of Shaw’s job is managing the UFC’s pay-per-view business, and while many fans feel Canada has gotten the short end of the stick since ex-welterweight champ Georges St-Pierre stepped away from the sport, he thinks the country is still an MMA mecca.

Opening a new market in Edmonton is just another step in the promotion’s goal of keeping the UFC’s Canadian business humming.

“First and foremost, we know there are a tons of fans here,” Shaw told MMAjunkie. “We can tell from pay-per-view buyrates, commercial locations – we have a few gyms here. Coming to Edmonton is a no-brainer, especially with this unbelievable facility.”

Rogers Place holds close to 20,000 fans and is the city’s premier destination for sporting events. UFC 215’s main card airs live on pay-per-view following prelims on FS1 and UFC Fight Pass.

Interestingly, Shaw said the shadow cast by ex-UFC heavyweight Tim Hague’s death, still under investigation by the Edmonton Combative Sports Commission, did not change the way the promotion approached health and safety concerns. He cited UFC VP of Regulatory Affairs Marc Ratner’s diligence in dealing with regulatory issues and didn’t mention any additional concerns.

“For us, it’s no worries at all,” Shaw said. “It’s not like this conversation with the commission started earlier this week. We’ve been speaking them for many, many months, so it’s business as usual for us.”

There’s a bit of irony in that statement as the promotion suffers another last-minute withdrawal to one of its pay-per-view events. But with a bit of luck, the show will still deliver.

For more on UFC 215, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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