Spike TV to air UFC 129 prelims, could feature Diaz vs. MacDonald and Foster vs. Pierson

By MMATorch

In news that comes as no surprise, Spike TV will broadcast an hour long Prelims Live special for UFC 129 in Toronto this April. The organization announced that the broadcast was coming during Saturday’s UFC 127 event.

According to a report from MMAJunkie.com, the leading bouts to take the two spots on the broadcast are the welterweight bouts in Nate Diaz vs. Rory MacDonald and Brian Foster vs. Sean Pierson. Additionally, it’s expected that some bouts will likely air on Facebook.com prior to the Spike TV broadcast.

UFC 129 is already a record setting event for the organization, with reported gate of $11 million for the 55,000 seat sold-out event at the Rogers Centre. The card is headlined by the Welterweight Championship bout between Georges St. Pierre and Jake Shields, and takes place on April 30.


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Jason Brilz meets replacement Vladimir Matyushenko at UFC 129

By Dann Stupp

A light-heavyweight bout between Jason Brilz (18-3-1 MMA, 3-2 UFC) and Vladimir Matyushenko (25-5 MMA, 6-3 UFC) is being finalized for April’s UFC 129 event in Toronto.

Sources close to the event today told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) that verbal agreements are in place and that bout agreements are being finalized.

Brilz initially was a replacement for Matt Hamill and expected to fight Phil Davis at the show. But Davis recently was pulled from the card and booked for a UFC Fight Night 24 headliner with Antonio Rogerio Nogueria.

UFC 129 takes place April 29 at Toronto’s Rogers Centre and has already broken box-office records for a North American MMA event with 55,000 tickets sold and a live-gate tally of approximately $11 million.

The night’s main card airs on pay-per-view, though it’s not clear if Brilz vs. Matyushenko will retain its spot on the televised lineup.


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UFC’s grip spreading to Canada, Scotland, beyond

By John Silver

Ultimate Fighting Championship president Dana White has long declared his intention of making mixed martial arts the biggest sport on the planet. For all his bombast and bluster, the UFC has taken several steps lately to increase its global footprint.

‘‘It doesn’t matter what color you are, what country you come from or what language you speak,’’ White said. ‘‘We’re all human beings, and fighting is in our DNA. We get it, and we like it.’’

After Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta bought the UFC 10 years ago, all but one UFC event had been held in the United States until 2007. Then the organization expanded with great success to Great Britain and now makes annual trips to the British Isles.

Last year marked a turning point for the UFC and a sign of future expansion plans. In addition to a London show, it brought the Octagon to Australia, Germany, the United Arab Emirates and Canada.

This year, the UFC plans to hold its first event in a stadium — Toronto’s Rogers Centre — in April. Canadian fight fans quickly snapped up 42,000 seats and then 17,000 more after the UFC increased capacity. This marks the UFC’s biggest, quickest sellout in North America and the largest gate — $11 million — for the UFC and the Rogers Centre. The demand went beyond White’s expectations.

‘‘When we put 42,000 on sale, I’ll admit that I was a little nervous about it and I didn’t know,’’ he said, ‘‘and, yeah, I’m absolutely blown away by the response.’’

Next Saturday, the UFC returns to Sydney, Australia, for UFC 127 after its sold-out event last February. It’s another sellout for a card headlined by BJ Penn vs. Jon Fitch.

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UFC, a business that keeps breaking records

By Graciemag

In a press conference held over the phone this Tuesday the 15th, UFC president Dana White spoke of the significant growth the event has experienced, proven by the spike in pay-per-view packages sold and the success in ticket sales at the events held around the world.

“It’s truly phenomenal the success we’ve seen in ticket sales around the world. We made $11 million in ticket sales for UFC 129 in Toronto. In Australia (UFC 127, February 27), it will be around US$ 3.5 million; we made US$ 4.5 million in Montreal, in Ireland, US$ 1.6 million; and the last time we did Vancouver we made US$ 4.2 million,” recounts Dana White, who celebrated a record 55 thousand tickets sold for UFC 129, set for April 30.

The event, for the first time ever to be held in a stadium, Toronto’s Rogers Centre, is already a landmark in UFC history. The 42 thousand tickets sold out in minutes. Due to the enormous demand, this number was subsequently raised to 55 thousand, which also quickly sold out.

“I always talk about how big an event like this can be in Canada and how the UFC is growing internationally. It was exceptional that we sold 55 thousand tickets. A record. But the question is: ow many people were looking for tickets? 25 thousand? 30 thousand, maybe?” queried the UFC president.

Dana admitted that, due to the enormous worldwide growth of the event, the day will come when events will have to be held simultaneously in different countries.

“We’re taking everything up a level. The UFC is taking on bigger proportions. I have no doubt that it will be the most popular sport in the world. And the day will come – I can’t believe I’m going to say this – but the day will come when we will hold, for example, an event in Las Vegas and another in Australia on the same day. That’s the direction we’re heading,” he declared.


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Dana White on boxing prices: ‘That model doesn’t work’

By Sergio Non

Do large revenues trump large audiences?

The size of a crowd at an event isn’t as important as the size of the live gate, boxing promoter Bob Arum said this week, during a roundtable with USA TODAY journalists. The head of the Ultimate Fighting Championship begs to differ. Pricing tickets expensively might generate short-term profits, but it detracts from a sport’s ability to build a loyal fanbase, UFC President Dana White believes. He spoke to USA TODAY about it on Wednesday:

Q: You’ve had a string of sellouts lately. How has your average ticket price held up?
Very well…I don’t want to do crazy, overpriced tickets like boxing does. Somebody asked me, “How come you guys don’t do gates like boxing does? $20 million, $30 million gates?” Because boxing’s a completely different model. That model doesn’t work. Real people buy tickets to the UFC events. These guys (in boxing) did all these events in Las Vegas, and the tickets were insanely priced where fans couldn’t even buy them, and the casinos bought them all up. We don’t do that. We sold 55,000 tickets in Toronto to UFC fans.

Q: If you can get a big live gate, why not go for it?
I consider what we’re doing right now a big, live gate, especially in this economy.

Q: Ok, but if you can do a bigger live gate, why not do it?
I just don’t think that’s good for long term. I just don’t think you do that. I don’t think you charge that much money for tickets. We already have one of the highest ticket prices in sports, if you look at our average ticket price, and we kill it. I mean, how greedy are you going to get? (chuckles)


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UFC stadium event in Vancouver possible

Matt Kieltyka

An Ultimate Fighting Championship event at B.C. Place Stadium could one day be reality.

UFC Canada president Tom Wright admits the organization sees big stadium shows as a viable option after the mixed martial arts organization managed to sell out 55,000 seats in Toronto’s Rogers Centre for UFC 129 last week.

“Toronto has demonstrated that there are places in the world where we can put on a show in a stadium,” said Wright, in Vancouver yesterday to negotiate the UFC’s return to Vancouver in June. “[B.C. Place] is quite possible. We only ever started discussing it after the success in Toronto.”

But first, Wright is focused on bringing the UFC back to Rogers Arena.

The home of the Canucks hosted the sold-out UFC 115 last June, and it’s been reported that a return visit could take place June 11 and feature heavyweight Shane Carwin.

“It’s not signed, sealed and delivered yet,” said Wright. “We’re still working through the necessary issues so we’re not in a positive we can announce anything yet. But we’re confident we’ll be back.”

UFC 131 would likely be the last event held under the city’s two-year pilot of professional mixed martial arts, which was put in place December 2009.

Wright plans to lobby the provincial government to regulate the sport after the test period ends.

“We will have a deep conversation with the province,” he said. “The province doesn’t have an athletic commission when most across the country do. You want to be regulated and grow the sport, and that requires oversight.”



NHL thirsts after the same blood and dollars as UFC

By Stephen Brunt

On April 30, mixed martial arts will produce the largest sports crowd and largest gate in the history of Toronto’s Rogers Centre, 55,000 customers dropping $11-million.

Slap an asterisk next to those numbers if you like. Point out that one of the clever marketing innovations of the Ultimate Fighting Championships – promoter of the event and the dominant force in the game – is that it has created a travelling audience of zealots who follow its events from place to place.

So it isn’t entirely a grassroots Toronto thing. It isn’t in itself evidence that MMA has captured the mainstream. It is more like a mass gathering of the faithful.

But ask yourself what other sporting event could draw that many people paying that much money in Canada’s largest market?

The correct answer would be nothing short of an Olympic Games or a World Cup or a Super Bowl, none of which is on the horizon.

Frame it any way you choose, but there is no denying that there is a strong and growing appetite for combat-as-spectacle right now, and don’t think that the National Hockey League hasn’t noticed.

Here is where we run into a rather stark cultural contradiction.

Never has there been more concern, more talk, more hand-wringing over brain injury in sport, whether in hockey or the National Football League or kids’ recreational soccer.


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