9. Montreal/Toronto, Canada
Sure, Montreal and Toronto aren’t even in the same province and there are plenty of differences between the two cities. But if there’s one thing they have in common, they have some of the most supportive lovers of MMA one might be able to find in Canada. Whenever an MMA promotion, especially the UFC, comes to Toronto or Montreal, seats sell quickly, and one can feel the passion and love they show their countrymen when it’s time for them to get to action.
These two prominent Canadian cities are the home bases for plenty of fighters, with Montreal being the home of the former longtime UFC welterweight champion and former middleweight champ Georges St Pierre. Montreal is also the home of Olivier Aubin-Mercier and former UFC and Bellator title challenger Valerie Letourneau. Montreal is also home to various MMA gyms, most notably TriStar Gym, whose fighters include current Aubin-Mercier, Bellator welterweight champ Rory MacDonald, Vitor Belfort, Sage Northcutt, Joanne Calderwood, John Makdessi and plenty more. Toronto, meanwhile, is the hometown of UFC light heavyweight Misha Cirkunov and The Ultimate Fighter: Nations winner Elias Theodorou.
Montreal has hosted seven UFC events, with the first being UFC 83 at the Bell Centre in 2008, which saw GSP avenge his upset loss to Matt Serra and win back the welterweight title, starting his five-year run over the division. The city also hosted GSP’s title defenses against Josh Koscheck, Carlos Condit and Nick Diaz at UFC 124, UFC 154 and UFC 158, respectively.
But a discussion of GSP and Canada can’t be complete without mentioning UFC 129 in 2011, the promotion’s first event in Toronto, which saw a record 55,724 people fill the Rogers Arena to watch their native hero defended his championship against Jake Shields. While that fight ended up not the most exciting, the card was stacked with Jose Aldo defending the featherweight title against Mark Hominick, Lyoto Machida retiring Randy Couture with a jumping front kick knockout and plenty of Canadian MMA talent. Toronto has hosted five UFC events since, including UFC 165, which featured the first encounter between Jon Jones and Alexander Gustafsson.
Montreal hasn’t hosted a UFC card since 186 in 2015, but Toronto hosted UFC 218 in December, which featured Max Holloway successfully defend the featherweight title against Brian Ortega.