Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Featherweight Champ Jose Aldo, Erik Koch in Calgary to Promote UFC 149: Calgary First Alberta City to Host UFC

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Featherweight Champ Jose Aldo, Erik Koch in Calgary to Promote UFC 149: Calgary First Alberta City to Host UFC

Article excerpt

CALGARY - The Ultimate Fighting Championship landed in new territory Wednesday when reigning featherweight champion Jose Aldo and challenger Erik Koch promoted their UFC 149 fight in Calgary.

The July 21 bout at Scotiabank Saddledome is Aldo's second title defence in Canada. The 25-year-old from Rio de Janeiro defeated Mark Hominick last year in Toronto and is on a 14-fight winning streak.

"I'm excited to be able to conquer the hearts of the Canadian fans" Aldo said via an interpreter. "There is another fighter here named Georges (St. Pierre) who was able to do that. I'd like to be able to do the same."

It's the first of three UFC events scheduled in Canada in 2012 with dates in Toronto and Montreal later this year.

The UFC's director of Canadian operations said it was a toss-up as to whether Edmonton or Calgary would be the first Alberta host.

"On a per capita basis, Canada is the largest and most developed UFC market in the entire world and within Canada, Alberta is the most developed province in our country," Tom Wright said. "It was only a matter of time before we came to Calgary."

Koch, meanwhile, is a winner of his last four fights. The 23-year-old American is 13-1.

The fighters had a whirlwind itinerary Wednesday. After a morning news conference, they took a helicopter ride -- Aldo's first on a chopper -- from downtown Calgary through the mountains of Kananaskis.

"I've been here a day and I swear I could move here," Koch said. "I'm very excited to get the fight with Jose and just put on a show, man. UFC 149 I think will be a remarkable fight.

"The first card in Calgary, to be on the main event, is just awesome. I get a title fight and I get to do it in Calgary."

A football clinic at McMahond Stadium with a few of the CFL's Calgary Stampeders followed the mountain tour. Under the tutelage of Stampeder kicker Rob Maver, Aldo kicked field goals from 35 yards, while Koch struggled to get the football elevated.

"Jose was knocking the stitches out of the ball and Koch, if he'd got a little bit more time, I think he'd be doing the same thing too," Maver said.

The fighters had an autograph signing scheduled for the evening. …

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