UFC 129 Expected to Again Utilize Facebook for Prelims

Claude Patrick.For the seventh straight event, the UFC will once again utilize Facebook to bring free fights to fans.

Though not yet announced by the promotion, sources close to the UFC told MMA Fighting on Tuesday the company plans to stream at least two preliminary card fights live on its Facebook fan page during the historic UFC 129 card in Toronto on April 30.

The current plan is for the bantamweight fight between Ivan Menjivar and Charlie Valencia and the welterweight bout between Claude Patrick and Daniel Roberts to be streamed on the UFC's Facebook page, though the precise fights – and number of fights – could change.

The UFC first began its experiment with Facebook to show unaired prelim fights in January at the Fight for the Troops 2 show at Fort Hood, Texas. For that show, the UFC planned two fights for Facebook. But on Fight Night, the UFC announced two more would air for free before the five-fight card on Spike TV.

For Fight Night 24 last month in Seattle, the UFC showed five fights on Facebook after posters on The Underground forum petitioned UFC president Dana White to up the ante from two. White has said repeatedly he believes the future of broadcasting lies in the Internet.

UFC 129 is the promotion's debut in the Canadian province of Ontario, which passed MMA legislation last fall. The event, which is preceded by the four UFC Fan Expo, will shatter the UFC's gate and attendance records with an excess of $10 million in ticket sales and 55,000 expected at the Rogers Centre. The pay-per-view will be the UFC's first stadium show.

To gain access to the free fights on Facebook, which will lead into a pair of prelims being aired live on Spike, viewers must "like" the UFC's fan page, which then unlocks a live streaming video player at the site. The UFC currently has more than 5 million fans at the social networking site.

UFC 129 is headlined by a welterweight title fight between champion Georges St-Pierre and Jake Shields with a co-main event featherweight title fight between champion Jose Aldo and challenger Mark Hominick.

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