I'm also Canadian, but I live in Vancouver on the west coast (quite a distance from Ontario).
The sports bars are packed for all the UFC PPV events. And I mean packed - downtown, most of the bars charge $5 cover on UFC nights (for the privilege of dropping $70 on food and beer). They're also fairly full in the suburbs (New West, Burnaby, Surrey) but don't charge cover and actually offer drink/food specials to get the crowds in. The Affliction heavyweight night had similar turnout, but I don' think other events do. Canadian fighters like GSP and Cote get big, big cheers. MMA events aren't sanctioned in BC, but can be held on aboriginal reserves because they are classified as federal land. Bodog had a big event here a couple of years ago, and there have been numerous small local events. The Bodog tix were really expensive, I didn't go so no idea about turnout (presumably good).
I practice MMA and obviously the guys I work out with watch the MMA events - the instructors know who all the local names and fighters are and who's in town etc. But I have a number of friends with no martial arts background who will go out for fight nights or chip in for a PPV. In fact, I've watched at 5+ peoples' houses in the last few years. A bunch of friends at university have at least a passing knowledge (they don't watch religiously or read MMA forums, but do have favourite fighters and enjoy it). My girlfriend has no interest in watching the events, but two separate groups of *her* friends have invited us out for events (boys drink & watch, girls drink & talk in the kitchen). Ah, quality time.
I think "UFC" is more recognisable than "MMA". When I talk about practicing MMA I generally refer to it as "mixed martial arts" and often further clarification is required. But there are lots of MMA gyms, and I've noticed that more and more traditional martial arts gyms now claim to teach MMA classes/skills (whether they do so with any real knowledge, I have no idea... my tae kwon do school was awesome for tae kwon do but unimpressive when they tried to teach self-defence wristlocks and vital strikes).
Last edited by kano666; 10-23-2008 at 08:55 PM.