Mixed Martial Arts fans, welcome to Montreal! On the eve of a UFC battle that’s sure to make history, we bring you 24 hours in an MMA fan’s life – our guide to your guaranteed good time in the hometown of Georges St-Pierre, aka GSP…
On November 17, Montreal’s Bell Centre will host a UFC battle of giants, pitting our own homegrown welterweight champion and current belt-holder Georges St-Pierre against American fighter and interim belt-holder Carlos Condit. The combat will fill the arena to the brim (last time we broke UFC records!) and welcome thousands of fight fans to the city – so without further ado, here’s an itinerary for you to make the most of your time in la belle ville.
All good days start with eggs, and in direct relation to how many bars Montreal has, the city also abounds with morning-after brunch places. There are chain restaurants downtown – Chez Cora and Eggspectation – that make a descent pair of sunny side ups, but why not branch out a little… go to Lawrence, up in Mile End, for a scrumptious plate of baked eggs or the local favourite, veal sweetbreads with arugula and big crusty bread (yes, for breakfast – you want hair on your chest, don’t you?). Otherwise Fabergé, around the corner on Fairmount, is a big, bright and happening bruncherie that makes a mean benedict.
While you’re in one of the city’s most happening hoods, take a stroll and shop a little – because not all MMA fans dig Affliction t-shirts. Manhood, on St-Laurent near St-Viateur, caters to the urbane but no-nonsense man, with racks full of check shirts, perfectly cut hoodies and just-so jeans. Down the street there’s Surplus, a store that sells Diesel seconds at crazy discounted prices. And on Park Avenue, make a pit stop at Mile End Kicks for the latest in fly footwear – think Hummel high tops in a million different shades.
Is it time for lunch already? Jump on the metro at the Laurier station and for $3.00, you can go to Namur station, where an icon of Montreal awaits – well, actually, two icons. The first is the Orange Julep, a giant orange-shaped building on the side of Décarie expressway that makes the best toasted hotdogs and French fries in the city. Grab a jug of sweet, malted orange julep – made on the spot – to go and wander across Décarie to the other icon, though it’s still a bit of a secret pilgrimage: Tri-Star, the gym where not only GSP, but John Jones, Kenny Florian, Ivan Menjvar and Miguel Torres train. Throw a penny at the front door or something for eternal good luck!
Downtown is your next destination – Place des Arts metro station, to be precise – because by now fight time is nearing, and it’s time for some blood-rousing pre-battle drinks. Hit the town’s new hotspot, Bar Furco, for a good-looking place to hang – full of raw wood and industrial heating vents – and sample some local brewskies or some of the city’s best mixed drinks while eyeing the local merchandise. Otherwise, closer to the Bell Centre there’s perennial favourite Dominion Square Tavern, which serves the best classic cocktails this side of London and some amazing ploughman’s platters. But make sure you don’t lose track of the ticking clock…
It’s showtime! Head a few blocks southwest to the Bell Centre for the big event – the prelims start at 6:15. Apart from the amazing championship bout, the main card will pit between Kampmann against Hendricks, Carmont against Lawlor, Ring against Philippou, and Hominick against Garza. By the end of the event, if your guy won head for a celebratory cigar at nearby Stogies (remember, Cubans are legal here) – or go straight to the club to drown your sorrows in the tastiest way. Newtown, the Crescent street classic spread over three-storeys of grinding and bumping, is a mere skip and jump away and HOST OF THE OFFICIAL UFC 154 PARTY, Arena is a little further, a ga-dunk ga-dunk get-down club that’s just the kind of place a fighter or two might end up.
Past last-call and you’re still standing? Get yourself a hangover-saving poutine at the 24-hour La Banquise – it’ll require a quick cab ride, but it’s worth it. After that, for the love of God, go to bed!
UFC 154, November 17, 2012
Bell Centre, 1909 avenue des Canadiens-de-Montréal, 1-877-668-8269