The latest big card in the octagon will take place in the heart of Canada’s largest city on Saturday evening, with both general fan interest and Ontario sports betting action sure to follow. American Sean Strickland and South Africa’s Dricus Du Plessis face off in the main event of UFC 297 at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, fighting for Strickland’s middleweight title.
Using Google Trends, OntarioBets.com analyzed the cities worldwide that are searching for the “UFC” term from Jan. 15, 2023 to Jan. 15, 2024. We found the Top 10 worldwide cities that seek information about the sport over the past year, grading them on interest level in UFC compared to other topics. The following chart gives you an indication of how much Canada is following the sport nowadays; three of the cities are in the nation’s most populous province, where Ontario sportsbook apps will be offering UFC 297 Toronto wagers.
Cities Most Interested In UFC (Past 12 Months)
Canadian Cities Excited For UFC 297 Card
Of the 11 metropolitan areas that came up in our list (including a tie for the No. 10 spot), four that generated the most search engine interest were in Canada.
The host site of UFC 287 and home of Toronto online casinos posted a search interest score of 76 for UFC compared to other topics, tying with Gold Coast, Australia and London, England for the fifth highest score globally.
The international leaders in terms of UFC search interest were Auckland, New Zealand (92 score), Liverpool, England (84), Surrey, England (82) and Las Vegas (82). Hamilton, Ontario (74) tied Perth, Australia for eighth globally. Another Ontario city, Mississauga, had 69 points to tie with Vancouver to round out our list of cities that are most likely to follow the matches and perhaps look at the UFC website.
Canadian Fighters On UFC 297 Toronto
For the main event between reigning champion Strickland (of Anaheim, California) and Du Plessis, the combatants had little margin between their odds as of Thursday afternoon at NorthStar Bets Ontario Sportsbook. Du Plessis was a slight favorite at -115 on the moneyline; Strickland was at -107.
In addition the card also includes several Canadian mixed martial arts fighters. Welterweight Mike Malott of Burlington, Ontario, and middleweight Marc-Andre Barriault of Gatineau, Quebec, are on the undercard.
The preliminaries include bantamweight Brad Katona of Winnipeg and Montreal native Charles Jourdain in the featherweight class. Canadian women are well-represented too, including strawweight Gillian Robertson of Niagara Falls — giving the country something to be proud of come Saturday evening. Throw in early prelims featuring Canadians Yohan Lainesse, Jasmine Jasudavicius and Malcolm Gordon and you have a fuller picture why there’s so much online interest in UFC 297, from Victoria to Newfoundland.
As of Thursday afternoon, oddsmakers from Pinnacle Ontario Sportsbook list Mallott (-346), Katona (-207), Jourdain (-209) and Robertson (-300) as betting favorites in their Saturday evening bouts. Barriault (+155) was the lone Canadian underdog.
One thing seems certain: Canadians will be tuning in come Saturday evening, regardless of the odds on their fellow countrymen and women, to see what shakes out at UFC 297 Toronto.