For years whenever he wanted to talk up an unsigned imaginary mega-bout like Brock Lesnar vs Fedor Emelianenko, UFC boss Dana White would place it in Cowboys Stadium in Dallas. Now that Toronto, Ontario has regulated the sport it seems that Dana has a new destination for his fantasy bouts. He was still up in the air as little as a week ago, talking to Yahoo! Sports about a possible Anderson Silva vs Georges St. Pierre bout:
"The most difficult part of putting together this fight is where we're going to hold it," White said. "Do we go back to Toronto? Do we do Dallas? What do you do?"
But now that UFC 129 has sold 55,000 tickets, Dana has a new home for his dream bouts: Rogers Centre in Toronto.
Dave Meltzer hears from Dana:
"The problem with doing Dallas is the number of [hotel] rooms down there," White said. "As big as that stadium is, there aren't a lot of rooms. Our sport, like the Super Bowl, will bring in people from all over the world. Toronto is a huge, hip city of things for people to do, clubs, restaurants ... "
Meltzer also puts the UFC 129 ticket sales into context with other combat sports events:
MMA's previous record of $7.4 million was set on Aug. 28, 2002, for an outdoor show by the Pride promotion at Tokyo National Stadium and was headlined by Kazushi Sakuraba vs. Mirko Cro Cop. That show will still hold the attendance record, which was publicly announced at 91,108. It is routine in Japan to greatly exaggerate attendance numbers in sports and entertainment, and promotions routinely give away many tickets for stadium shows. Pride officials at the time noted that the arena was actually set up for 80,000 max, and did not sell out. The real attendance was approximately 71,000, with just under 50,000 paid.
The only boxing event in North America that wasn't held in a casino location and has done numbers in this ballpark was the March 13, 1999, Madison Square Garden heavyweight title fight with Evander Holyfield vs. Lennox Lewis, which also did $11 million.