TORONTO — UFC 129 was a big risk for the UFC.
Running inside the cavernous Rogers Centre, things could've turned into a disaster even after 55,000 tickets had been sold. Instead, the UFC pulled off the event like they've been running shows of this magnitude for years.
From my $65 500-level seat inside Rogers Centre, from the perspective of looking at the Octagon, it felt only slightly different than what I've experienced in the past in the upper bowls of places like Nationwide Arena in Columbus and Target Center in Minneapolis. At first, both Pablo Garza and Yves Jabouin looked like action figures fighting in a toy cage, but once I got past that, it was full speed ahead.
Before the main event (which almost killed the entire show for me, but that's another story), this show was well on its way to being one of the best of all-time. These guys were all out there fighting hard for that bonus money (and boy, I sure hope John Makdessi got taken care by Uncle Dana). I mean, a flying triangle submission and a spinning back fist KO on the same show? In back-to-back fights? Then a jumping front kick KO? Completely sick.
All of this was experienced with 55,724 of my closest friends and was honestly one of the best live event experiences I've ever been apart of, possibly the best. It's right up there with WrestleMania 23 and a few different Michigan State football games, that's for sure. The emotional investment of this crowd in its fellow Canadian fighters was amazing. I don't think I'll forget the fifth round of the featherweight title fight between Jose Aldo and Mark Hominick for quite a long time. Once Hominick got a takedown, the crowd got louder and louder with each additional blow Hominick landed. Unfortunately for him, he wasn't able to get the finish, but it created an extremely memorable moment.
The one moment I'll never forget is Randy Couture's last fight, his knockout loss to Machida. The crowd was on its feet for Couture from the moment he walked out through his introduction and then 55,000-plus gave him a standing ovation as the fight ended, through his interview with Joe Rogan and his exit from the Octagon, likely for the last time. Having had the pleasure of seeing Couture's win over Tim Sylvia at UFC 68 in person as well, this was another moment to add to the mental scrapbook. The crowd was extremely classy.
Although classy when it came to Couture, some members of the crowd were a bit wild during the Rory MacDonald/Nate Diaz fight. OK, that's a total understatement. This crowd hated Nick Diaz with a furious passion, with some of them event trying to get a "F--- Diaz" chant off the ground (and to moderate success). None of that mattered, though, when MacDonald started rag-dolling Diaz around the Octagon. The crowd went bonkers, there's no other way to put it. Absolutely bananas.
In another great moment, there was an Affliction T-shirt gun with two girls after the first pay-per-view fight. They shot shirts into the crowd and guess who was there escorting them? That's right, everyone's favorite failed MMA promoter, the one and only Tom Atencio. That was solid gold.
Now let's talk about the setup. It was clear the UFC really did their homework when it came to setting the stadium up. The big screens around the cage were beyond awesome. Probably as wide as a moderate-sized house, these things gave a clear, ultra-HD picture of the happenings. In all, there were 12 screens around the stadium and even if someone didn't like their view of the cage, there was a great on-screeen view to be had.
From both a live event perspective and a fighting perspective, the UFC hit an absolute home run with the production of UFC 129. It might be a long time before the UFC does another stadium show and if that's the case, the memories of UFC 129 will still be vivid by the time that comes.
- Georges St. Pierre Holds Back UFC's Canadian Coming Out Party at UFC 129 - Jonathan Snowden
- Is Steven Seagal Secretly a Martial Arts Genius? - Jonathan Snowden
- UFC 129 Post-Fight Press Conference Video
- Play by Play and Live Commentary - Brent Brookhouse
- Georges St. Pierre Slips Past Jake Shields
- Jose Aldo Holds Off Mark Hominick
- Lyoto Machida Clouts Randy Couture
- Vladimir Matyushenko Mops the Floor With Jason Brilz
- Ben Henderson Whips Up On Mark Bocek
- Rory MacDonald Ragdolls Nate Diaz
- Jake Ellenberger Brutalizes Sean Pierson
- Claude Patrick Edges Daniel Roberts
- Pablo Garza Submits Yves Jabouin
- John Makdessi KO's Kyle Watson With Spinning Back Fist
- Jason MacDonald Triangles Ryan Jensen
- Ivan Menjivar Clocks Charlie Valencia