UFC prez White out to conquer world

By Dave Hilson, Toronto Sun

Now that he has conquered Toronto, Dana White has his sights set on nothing less than world domination. The UFC head honcho told reporters on Tuesday that he was “blown away” by explosive ticket sales for UFC 129 at the Rogers Centre on April 30.

“This is going to be the biggest sport in the world,” the revved-up White said over the phone from New York City.

“We want to keep adding shows … We’re going to be putting on more fights in more places. There might be a day, and I can’t believe I’m saying this, when we’ll be putting on a show in Las Vegas and there will be a fight happening in Australia at the same time.”

White was sounding pretty hyped after the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s first foray into Toronto sold out in mere minutes over the weekend — with 55,000 tickets being gobbled up in all when 42,000 had initially been offered — making the organization’s first stadium event its biggest ever.

UFC 129, featuring Canada’s favourite son, Georges St. Pierre, taking on American Jake Shields in the main event, raked in a record $11 million in ticket sales, and will shatter the attendance record of more than 23,000 set at UFC 124 at the Bell Centre in Montreal.

“It was a big move to (initially) put 42,000 tickets on sale,” White said. “Every time we go up to the Bell Centre, we sell that thing out. But the question was, how many more people were really looking for tickets? When we put 42,000 on sale, I’ll admit, I was a little nervous about it and I’m absolutely blown away by the response.”

Selling out events is nothing new to White, but the magnitude of this one has him setting his sights on even bigger things: UFC coverage being beamed into more than a billion homes, a homegrown version of The Ultimate Fighter television series airing in countries such as Canada, the UK, and the Philippines (as soon as this year), and a possible date at the massive Cowboys Stadium.

“We’re in half a billion homes right now, on television world wide,” White said. “And we’re working on some deals right now, and we’ll get them done in the next few months, that will put us into over a billion homes world wide.”

The deals White is referring to is for television distribution in China and India, two huge markets that would truly make UFC a global brand.

 

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