UFC 126 is showing indications of having been a very big event for the UFC. First the gate and attendance numbers are impressive. MMA Junkie reports that the event drew 10,893 attendees and generated a live gate of $3.6 million plus another $45,100 from over 1,000 attendees who watched it on close-circuit on the property.
That makes UFC 126 the third biggest gate the UFC's ever done at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas after UFC 100 ($5.1 million) and UFC 79 ($4.9 million).
The fight was also the biggest MMA event in Brazilian history. Ironically considering the sport's long history in that country and the success of its athletes in Japan and the U.S., it's never been accepted as a respectable sport in Brazil. That may have changed with Silva vs Belfort.
In Las Vegas, it's a common thing the bars and nightclubs surrender to MMA and prepare a special schedule for each edition of UFC, but the prejudice when it comes to the sport in Brazil was a hard barrier to be break. It wasn't rare to see the bar owners denying the fans request for watching the "Combate" channel. But the history has taken another course when UFC 126 came.
The "fight of the century", which stamped the greatest success edition of TATAME Magazine of 2010 seemed to be all around.
In Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, Curitiba and the main cities of Brazilian North and Northeast, each bar you go, there was at least one TV tuned on Ultimate. The nightclubs of south neighborhood of Rio de Janeiro, hometown of Belfort, interrupted their parties for some minutes so that the young people would watch the bout. The outcome let the fans sad, and others just said: "it's helpless, Anderson is unbeatable".
The expectations around the fight, enlarged by the huge cover of the great media and the impeccable work of TATAME in Las Vegas, breaking all numbers and putting TATAME TV as one of the top watched channels of the world all week on YouTube (on the weekend, TATAME TV was on the first place in Brazil), and it made children and grownups to wait until three in the morning to watch the fight of the century.
In the aftermath of 126, UFC President Dana White was talking about the epic Anderson Silva vs Georges St Pierre fight that this sets up (provided GSP beats Jake Shields at UFC 129 in Toronto). The UFC is talking about putting on that fight in Dallas Stadium. MMA Junkie reported from the post event press conference:
"The most difficult part of putting this together is going to be where we hold it," White said. "I don't know.
"It makes sense that we'll do a stadium show. It totally makes sense. If there was ever a fight that we were going to do at Dallas Cowboys stadium, this would be the fight."
If it's not Dallas, Canada seems to be a leading candidate to host the potential megafight. However, Silva said he has other ideas in mind.
"If I had it up to me, I'd have that fight in Brazil," Silva said. "But if that's not going to happen, I'd like to have my fight here in Las Vegas. Las Vegas is my home away from home."
Steve Cofield has some thoughts on venues:
The UFC is in Toronto for UFC 129 on Apr. 30. The Rogers Centre, formerly known as Skydome, will be configure for 42,000. Dallas is a big step up from there. Cowboys Stadium seats around 80,000. The Jerry Dome has already hosted two Manny Pacquiao fights. Those fight cards both pulled in over 40,000. The stadium's super-sized HD scoreboard, that stretches from one 20-yard line to the other, would make viewing the fight a good experience in the cheap seats.
Late this summer, the UFC is hitting Rio De Janeiro, so it's unlikely the promotion would quickly turnaround and hold another fight in Brazil. August is too soon for St. Pierre to add the necessary weight for the fight.
Las Vegas' biggest arena is the Thomas & Mack Center which can hold 18,500. The UFC holds most of its Sin City cards at the MGM Grand Garden Arena (16,500) or the Mandalay Bay Events Center (11,500).
Back up plans for Silva vs GSP would be Canada, Las Vegas or Brazil. In the aftermath of Silva-Belfort's historical breakthrough with the Brazilian public it could do very well indeed in Rio.
White is also talking about putting on events in Sweden and Japan this year so things are looking good for MMA's leading promotion.