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Steve Cofield

Dana White says GSP is most popular athlete in history of Canada

Steve Cofield
Cagewriter

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With the French- and English-speaking media in attendance, some of the discussion at Tuesday's UFC 124 press conference in Montreal turned a bit nationalistic. Josh Koscheck was asked if he was racist after he made comments on a recent episode of "The Ultimate Fighter" about not wanting to lose to Georges St. Pierre because he was French. That dust up lasted a few seconds as Kos sidestepped the question by saying the comment was simply made to promote the fight. Then Dana White was asked why he keeps coming back to Canada. In December, Montreal is going to host its fourth UFC event with GSP and Koscheck squaring off in the main event.

"Canada is the second-biggest market for the UFC," said White. "It's crazy up here. I'd come here every weekend if I could."

The French-Canadian St. Pierre being on the card also helps the cause. White knows how popular his welterweight champ is but still wonders why GSP isn't making big money in his home country.

"I don't know how he doesn't have every blue-chip sponsor in Canada," said White. "I had this debate the other day, this is the most popular athete to ever come out of Canada. Ever!"

Of course, hockey players first come to mind when you're talking about superstars from Canada.

"Some guy started to argue with me about Gretzky and all these others ... do people care about Gretzky when he shows up in the Philippines or the U.K. or all the other countries?"

It's an interesting debate. I'm not sure using GSP's popularity in a fight-rabid country like the Philippines is a fair fight for an all-time great hockey player. White's argument seems a little flawed since he himself admits all of Canada hasn't really latched on. Of course, that could also mean the advertisers don't know what they're doing and are missing the boat.

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