By Charles Vanegas
Last Friday, Ryerson played host to the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s (UFC) weigh-ins for UFC 152: Jones vs. Belfort, which took place the next night at the Air Canada Centre.
When I first heard about the UFC’s impending presence, I thought, “wow, this is going to be awesome.” Ryerson officials always talk about the Mattamy Athletic Centre’s ability to host concerts and major tournaments, and so far, they had managed to successfully hype every single event. The Prime Minister’s visit. The first basketball game. The grand opening. The parade and picnic. The time capsule ceremony.
So you would think they’d do the same when hosting the premier company in mixed-martial arts and arguably the best fighter in the world, Jon “Bones” Jones.
But for some reason, Ryerson kept quiet about their big guests prior to the event. No mention in any “Ryerson Today” emails. Nothing in “This Week In Athletics.” The first time anyone went out of his or her way to tell me about it was the day of the event, when I was walking towards the MAC. UFC employees were passing out flyers, inviting community members to attend.
Once inside, I noticed that A) at no point were the stands more than two-thirds full, and B) only about a quarter of those present were Ryerson students.
I spoke to Marcin Dszynski, a third-year computer science student, who said he had no idea the UFC was at Ryerson until being told outside.
Brian Batista Bettencourt, one of our photo editors, is also a libero for the men’s volleyball team. He says most of the guys on the team weren’t even aware of the weigh-ins prior to him telling them.
And when I spoke to a MAC employee who was working the day of, he said he only found out a few days before.
But as early as Sept. 11, sites like MMAjunkie.com had reported that Ryerson was scheduled to host the event – which would be “free and open to the public.” The UFC has come a long way over the past few years. They’ve grown from a small circus league to become a household name able to successfully lobby governments to sanction MMA as a sport. Ryerson Athletics has also made great strides recently in building their brand – acquiring Maple Leaf Gardens and bringing in top recruits.
The difference, of course, is that UFC president Dana White would never stage an event without publicizing it.
While its not like Ryerson actually hosted fights, the weigh-ins were significant enough to at least mention in an email to students. Those in attendance seemed to appreciate the fact that some of the world’s elite athletes were on campus. It just would’ve been nice if Ryerson had let everyone know about it.