Northern Ontario hot sauce steals the show at UFC 257 weigh-in
As UFC 257 headliners Connor McGregor and Dustin Poirier took the stage for their final stare-down on Friday, a Northern Ontario hot sauce made an unexpected appearance, setting the sports world on fire.
Heartbeat Hot Sauce Co. was founded in 2015 by Thunder Bay, Ont. residents Al Bourbouhakis and Nancy Shaw.
Now married, the two launched the product when Bourbouhakis worked as a sous-chef at a restaurant owned by Shaw.
After a local farmer unloaded a surplus of peppers at the restaurant, they went to work on a recipe that is now enjoyed by hot sauce connoisseurs everywhere.
"It was towards the end of the growing season, and he had had a number of peppers other restaurants weren’t buying or hadn’t sold at the farmers market and said ‘Here you go, have fun," said Bourbouhakis.
"So we started experimenting, making some hot sauces and started to ferment them, largely as a way of preserving them, and that ended up contributing to the overall identity of the product and the company itself."
Now dubbed "the world’s most versatile hot sauce," the company is currently making headlines across the globe after Poirier handed McGregor a bottle of his signature Heartbeat flavour Poirier’s Lousiana Style.
The moment came at what is normally a contentious one for fighters in what is known as the final face off or ceremonial weigh-in – when the two stare each-other down for a media photo-op.
It is also the last time the two will square-off before meeting inside the octagon, and in this case - the main event at UFC 257 on Jan. 23.
"The way he was able to hand it to Connor, the way he did, in front of all those cameras at the weigh-ins...It just captured headlines, from every major sports media outlets around-the-world really, because now we’re seeing headlines come in from overseas," said Bourbouhakis.
The flavour, Poirier’s Lousiana Style, was created through a partnership with the former Interim UFC Lightweight Champion over a year ago, and while Poirier has fought some notable opponents since, Bourbouhakis was not expecting this.
"Showing the images of them embracing with Connor’s fist holding the bottle in the air like that. That’s really just an iconic moment, them on-stage embracing like that after the history they’ve had," he said.
"It’s something everybody was talking about and then it just so happened Dustin got the product into the mix."
Considered one of the biggest names in sports entertainment, McGregor became the sport’s first athlete to cross-over to professional boxing in 2017 when he fought Floyd Mayweather in "The Biggest Fight in Combat Sports History." He has since retired only to return to the UFC for a handful of contests, tonight being one of them.
"I’m delighted I got the Louisiana Hot Sauce. I look forward to bringing the hot sauce and the fire tomorrow. Let’s Go!," exclaimed the 4x UFC Champion after the face-off on Friday.
Heartbeat products are produced using many locally sourced ingredients and each bottle is made with no added water, thickening agents or chemical preservatives of any kind.