clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Zuffa's Global Quest Starting With UFC 129 in Toronto

The buzz word around the UFC for years, especially from president Dana White, has been "global."

With its first stadium show, UFC 129 in Toronto on April 30, the promotion may have hit that word harder than it ever has before.

UFC 129 will shatter North American mixed martial arts gate and attendance records with an expected 55,000 fans at the Rogers Centre for a gate of more than $10 million. And the UFC Fan Expo being held in conjunction with the fight card has opened the doors for more fans at one MMA event than any other in history.

But Tom Wright, the UFC's director of Canadian operations, said Tuesday that for UFC 129, "global" will be more than just a buzz word. It will be quite literal.

"Tickets were purchased by people in all 10 of our provinces, all three of our Canadian territories, 48 of 50 U.S. states, and we've got tickets that were purchased in every single continent around the world," Wright said during a media call for the card. "So it's going to be a very international flavor. This is going to be a global event – we've always talked about this first stadium being a truly global event, and it will be in terms of where the fans are coming from."

UFC 129 is the promotion's debut in the Canadian province of Ontario, which just passed MMA legislation last fall. Long reluctant to do stadium shows because White said he didn't want the fan experience to be dampened, the UFC found the lure of the Rogers Centre too much to pass on – and fans responded with 42,000 tickets sold from the presage alone, forcing an additional 13,000 tickets to be made available for the general public.

Earlier this month, MMA Fighting learned that the UFC is planning to use as many as 20 video screens around the stadium, the home of Major League Baseball's Toronto Blue Jays and the first retractable roof stadium ever built.

UFC 129 is headlined by a pair of title fights. Canadian Georges St-Pierre puts his welterweight belt on the line, looking to defend it for the sixth consecutive time. St-Pierre has won eight straight fights and not lost a round since reclaiming the title from Matt Serra at UFC 83 three years ago today. And featherweight champion Jose Aldo makes his UFC debut against Ontario native Mark Hominick. Aldo has not lost in more than five years. In addition, UFC Hall of Famer Randy Couture fights for what he claims will be the last time when he meets former light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida.

UFC 129 airs live on pay-per-view at 9 p.m. Eastern on April 30, an hour earlier than normal in a move the promotion may stick with for future pay-per-views. In addition to the main card, Spike TV will once again show preliminary card fights an hour before the pay-per-view broadcast, this time featuring a pair of U.S. vs. Canada welterweight bouts – Jake Ellenberger vs. Sean Pierson and Nate Diaz vs. Rory MacDonald. Though no official announcement has been made yet, the UFC has aired prelims on Facebook for six consecutive shows and is likely to stream free fights there again.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the MMA Fighting Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of all your fighting news from MMA Fighting