Dana White had quite a bit to talk about on today’s UFC 127 conference call. Here’s a quick rundown…
— To say Dana White was pleased with ticket sales for the UFC’s first stadium show at the Rogers Centre in Toronto for UFC 129 would be an understatement. In fact, Dana told reporters he was “blown away.”
“I always talk about how big Canada is, and how big we’re growing internationally,” White said on a call with media members. “It was a big move to put 42,000 tickets on sale. Every time we go up to the Bell Centre (in Montreal), we sell that thing out. But the question was, how many more people were really looking for tickets? Is it 25,000? Maybe it’s 29,000? 30,000? When we put 42,000 on sale, I’ll admit I was a little nervous about it and I didn’t know. I’m absolutely blown away by the response.”
“I’m pretty cocky about this stuff – I believe in the brand and the sport and the fighters,” White said. “But … the question always is, we sold out 23,000 tickets, but how many (more) people were really looking for tickets? Now I’m sitting here with 55,000 sold out and still thinking the same thing: How many more could we have done in a bigger stadium? How many more people were looking for tickets? It’s crazy.”
The response basically guarantees the UFC will run more stadium shows in the future when they have the right fights. One such fight would be Anderson Silva vs. Georges St. Pierre. Dana mentioned Cowboys Stadium as a possible venue for that pound-for-pound super fight before, but now he’s not sure Dallas is the right location. He says there aren’t enough hotel rooms in the area.
“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 … “
That doesn’t make much sense considering Dallas just hosted the Super Bowl, but I have to imagine they know what they’re talking about. Either way, with a record-shattering $11 million live gate, you can bet UFC 129 won’t be the UFC’s last trip to Toronto.
— The first international version of The Ultimate Fighter could begin this year, and Dana White says it will likely take place in the Philippines.
“‘The Ultimate Fighter’ is gonna start airing in every country,” UFC President Dana White said during a Tuesday media conference call to promote UFC 127. “We’re gonna start doing ‘Ultimate Fighter UK,’ ‘The Ultimate Fighter Canada,’ ‘The Ultimate Fighter Philippines.’ We’re doing it everywhere.”
“This year,” White said. “I’m pretty sure the first one’s probably gonna be the Philippines.”
“What’s happening is, as this sport becomes more popular in all these different countries now, there’s a lot more talent coming up. Believe me, there’s a lot of guys out there that are coming up,” said White. “We’re doing nothing but cultivating new talent.”
— Dana announced that the BJ Penn vs. Jon Fitch fight at UFC 127 will determine the next top contender in the welterweight division. Who the winner would face should Georges St. Pierre defeat Jake Shields and permanently move to middleweight to fight Anderson Silva is unclear though. To be honest, I have my doubts that GSP would vacate his title for a Silva fight. We still haven’t heard GSP’s input yet on the potential super fight and likely won’t until the Shields fight is over.
— As expected, Matt Hughes made the trip to Hawaii to help Penn train for Fitch. He detailed the visit on his blog.
We left Vegas on Sunday morning and flew straight to Hawaii. BJ Penn had texted me a couple of weeks ago to see if I had some time to come out and train and get him ready for Fitch. After that initial call I checked my schedule, said I could come and had him send me Fitch’s last five fights. BJ gave me first class accommodations all the way through. I think we got some good training in, I’d love to sit here and tell you what we worked on, but I just can’t. What I can tell you to do is go to BJPenn.com and there are several videos of us on there. I think most of them will have my little Hanna in there as well. It was a great experience for me, first off I got to train with BJ; I think we would both say that we’re a lot alike. And number two, I got to spend some quality time with my daughter. I’m on the road a lot and usually my family is at home. This time I was gone for nine days and got to take my 4 1/2 year old daughter with me. One of the things I liked most is that Hanna will most likely remember everything and it was 1-on-1 time with my girl.
— About that Fedor vs. Silva fight that Dana White spent all weekend heckling Fedor fans about on Twitter, he said he never actually saw it. He claims his friends only sent him texts about what was going on.
— BJ Penn expressed his doubt in Kenny Florian’s ability to make 145, saying, “It’s going to be hard to be competitive if you chop off your right leg.”