The Rogers Centre in Toronto hosts UFC 129 on April 30, and the ticket pre-sale nearly doubled the previous North American attendance record of a MMA event.
UFC president Dana White has been hesitant to take the Octagon to large arenas out of fear it would take away from the fan experience of a live UFC event.
“Nobody was more worried about that than me,” said Dana White. “I’ve said for years that I don’t know about doing stadiums. What I think has helped the UFC get as big as it has is the live event experience, and the last guy on Earth that wants to ruin that is me.”
With the sport’s growth and demand for tickets, larger venues were inevitable, and White insists the UFC 129 experience will be on another level.
“I’m all about the fans. I never want the fans to not only turn off their televisions and say, ‘that sucked.’ I don’t want fans to walk away who bought tickets to have a bad experience either. I’m actually pumped for the experience that we’re planning.”
“We are going to do things in this arena that we’ve never done in any arena ever before.,” added White. “People worried about the experience isn’t going to be the same, it’s not. It’s going to be better. We are taking it to a whole another level.”
“From the outset Dana has always said it’s about making sure the fan experience for this first ever event in Toronto is the best ever,” said UFC Canada Director of Operations Tom Wright .
“We went out and configured a 60-70,000 seat stadium to hold 42,000 seats. We can add some more, but the fact of the matter is we’ve configured it so it’s going to be a fabulous experience for everybody that’s in there.”
“We’re going to have a total of eight different screens for the fans in the 500 section to not only be able to watch the event live by looking down at the Octagon, but they’re going to have these huge screens that they can watch from as well,” added Wright.
The UFC has other amenities planned for UFC 129, including a two-day UFC Fan Expo at the Direct Energy Centre.
UFC 129 is headlined by the welterweight title bout between Georges St. Pierre and Jake Shields, and Jose Aldo will defend his featherweight crown against Mark Hominick in the co-main event. Also featured on the card is a light heavyweight match up between former champions Lyoto Machida and Randy Couture.
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