UFC 149 is the biggest night in the career of one Alberta fighterand potentially the end of an era for one of the province spioneers in Ultimate Fighting Championship. As the hometown favourite on the July 21 card, all eyes will be onCalgary native Nick Ring, when he takes on Court McGee in amiddleweight bout. Growing up, Ring was in the stands plenty oftimes at the Scotiabank Saddledome. He s still trying to wrap hishead around the fact that thousands of fans will be in that verysame building to watch him. |
It blows my mind, said Ring (12-1), excitement in his voice. I think as a kid you just never realize and just don t see thatsomething like this could happen. But here it is. It s 2012 andit s happening. It s an incredible, incredible feeling.
UFC 149 will be drastically different from the last time Ringfought in Calgary a unanimous decision victory over Alex Gassonin 2003, in front of maybe 1,000 people at the Max Bell Arena. Itwill also be a far cry from the first meeting with McGee that tookplace during Season 11 of the reality-TV series The UltimateFighter. To keep the results of the matches secret before their airdates, the gym was nearly empty when Ring defeated McGee (13-2) viamajority decision. We get to meet and put it all on the line in front of thousandsand thousands of people, said Ring, adding with a big laugh: Before, we were just in a little room surrounded by tens ofpeople. While UFC has announced 10 matches for the event, the card isn tfilled just yet.
UFC director of Canadian operations Tom Wrightsaid the company is leaving a spot open for Red Deer native JasonMacDonald, who declared in March that he would likely retirefollowing a bout at UFC 149. The veteran of 40 professional fights over 13 years dating backto before mixed martial arts was sanctioned anywhere in the world meets Tom Lawlor on May 15 at UFC on FUEL. If he comes out ofthat match relatively unscathed, the opportunity is there for hiscareer to come full circle. His first professional match came inCalgary in December 1999 on card dubbed Punch and Crunch, wherehe submitted Ken Manderson.
Jason has been a remarkable ambassador for our sport. He s beena great representative for this country, said Wright. I certainly will be pulling for him. I ll make a call to Danaright after his fight.
MacDonald, who has fought 13 times in UFC, said in March that itwould be a highlight of his career to compete so close to home. I m thrilled to have the UFC in Calgary. It s a dream come truefor me, said MacDonald in March. I really hope to be a part of this show. It would be a storybookending for me.
The card features athletes from eight different countries: Canada,United States, Brazil, France, England, Finland, Australia andAfghanistan. In matches currently scheduled for UFC 149: * Featherweight champion Jose Aldo (21-1), considered one of thetop pound-for-pound fighters in the sport, takes on Erik Koch(13-1) in the main event. * Former light heavyweight title holder Mauricio Rua (20-6) meetsThiago Silva (14-3, 1 NC) in the co-main event. * Ex-UFC interim heavyweight champion and former PRIDE heavyweightchamp Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira (33-7-1, 1 NC) takes on Cheick Kongo(27-7-2). * Thiago Alves (24-8) goes against Siyar Bahadurzada (21-4-1), thefirst fighter from Afghanistan in UFC, in a welterweight contest.
* Michael Bisping (23-4) meets Tim Boetsch (15-4) in a middleweightmatch. * In a rematch from Season 11 of The Ultimate Fighter, Calgary sNick Ring (12-1) squares off against Court McGee (13-2) in amiddleweight bout. * Saskatoon native Mitch Clarke (9-1) takes on Anton Kuivanen(16-5) in a lightweight match. * In a bantamweight contest, Sudbury, Ont. s Mitch Gagnon (8-1)challenges Bryan Caraway (16-6).
* Oshawa, Ont. native Antonio Carvalho (13-5) battles George Roop(12-10-1) in a featherweight bout. * Ryan Jimmo, a New Brunswick native fighting out of Edmonton,meets Anthony Perosh (13-6) in a lightweight bout. Twitter.com/davedeibert.
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