A mixed martial arts match will be held in Vancouver next June despite the city's current ban on the sport, announced Ultimate Fighting Championship's president over the weekend.
"Canada is the mecca of mixed martial arts right now," said UFC president Dana White at the UFC Fan Expo in Las Vegas.
Though the controversial sport is not regulated in British Columbia and Vancouver banned it in 2007, Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson gave his support Monday.
"We're hopeful we can resolve all this and host an event in 2010, but we still got some work to do," said Robertson.
Vancouver Coun. David Cadman opposes the event, saying the violent nature of the sport would require increased security downtown.
"I personally don't feel that the residents of Vancouver want to pay taxes to police this kind of event," said Cadman.
Paul Lazenby, a Vancouver-based Canadian mixed martial arts champion, says UFC would be an easy sell in the city.
"Vancouver is one of the top 10 cities per capita in the world for UFC pay-per-view buys. I can guarantee that if UFC comes to GM Place, it will sell out in an instant," said Lazenby.
He said new rules have boosted the sport's popularity.
"It is now as respectable a sport as boxing is. And it's really helped us to move the sport forward and divorce it from the old image of just two bar brawlers basically bashing each other to pieces in a cage," he said.