UFC 129 will be the first-ever UFC event in Ontario.
Record Ticket Sales and Gate Numbers Eclipsed for UFC 129
When the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) heads into the Rogers Centre on April 30th, it will be making some ground breaking history for the sport of Mixed Martial Arts. Not only will UFC 129 be its first ever event in Ontario, but ticket sales and gate numbers will shatter previous highs for the most popular MMA promotion in the world.
“I always talk about how big Canada is and how big we’re growing internationally, etc, etc, so it was a big move to put 42,000 tickets on sale,” UFC President Dana White said on a recent media call. “Every time we go up to the Bell Centre, we sell that thing out. We added tickets, we got to 23,000, but the question was ‘how many more people are really looking for tickets?’ Is it 25,000? Maybe it’s 29, 30. When we put 42 on sale, I’ll admit that I was a little nervous about it, and I didn’t know. I’m absolutely blown away by the response.”
The 42,000 tickets initially put on sale were scooped up in just minutes after their release, and the total attendance numbers will eclipse a record 55,000 patrons. The gate for the event will be well over $11 million as well, which is also a North American record for the sport.
“We sell out arenas here (in the United States) all the time, but the reality is as we started to take this thing internationally, and what I’ve been saying for a long time, that this is going to be the biggest sport in the world, and I think people might not think I’m nuts anymore,” White continued. “We’re in half a billion homes right now on television worldwide, and we’re working on some deals right now, and we’ll get them done in the next few months, that will put us in over a billion homes worldwide on television. And as we start to go into these different territories and sell out the way we have, it just shows that what I’ve said is absolutely correct. People all over the world love to see a fight, and I think this fight at the Rogers Centre has become such a big event. It’s not just people from Toronto buying tickets, and I’m looking into that right now. People are coming from all over the world for that event.”
Also joining White on the media call was Tom Wright, who formerly worked as the Commissioner of the Canadian Football League and now runs the Canadian office for the UFC.
“We went to great lengths to set up the Rogers Centre to make it a fantastic experience,” he remarked. “We built this virtual venue, we advertised it, we promoted it. We did everything because we took nothing for granted. And I think we did all that homework, and it paid off.”
Fighting in the main event of UFC 129 will be Welterweight Champion and native Canadian Georges St. Pierre, who will defend his title against Jake Shields. If he wins that pairing, St. Pierre will next face UFC Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva in a proposed superfight.