|UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre and contender Jake Shields attending UFC Press conference in Toronto, February 8, 2011. (Alex Urosevic/QMI Agency)
After years of anticipation, Toronto is finally beginning to feel the Rush of excitement that comes with hosting an Ultimate Fighting Championship event.
UFC President Dana White was in town Tuesday to announce tickets to the historic UFC 129 will go on sale this weekend and he was surrounded by some of the biggest names in the sport as he revealed match-ups fight fans can expect to see.
“I’m pumped,” White told the throng of media at the Rogers Centre as he talked about the April 30 card.
Canada is such a “mecca” for the UFC and the first ever event in Ontario is so important that there will be two main events, both with titles on the line, he said.
One of those fights will see Montreal native Georges “Rush” St.-Pierre, the welterweight champion and current face of the UFC who is also known as GSP, take on Jake Shields, an American.
And Mark “the Machine” Hominick, from Thamesford, Ont., will have a chance to snatch the featherweight belt from current champ Jose “Junior” Aldo, a Brazilian.
The massive spectacle aims to be a record-setting event with huge Canadian content and several locals among the 12 fights.
He said that while the stadium has held some 69,000 fans in the past for a wrestling event, the current seating plan for UFC 129 will hold 40,000 people.
The idea is to ensure all fans enjoy the show no matter where they are sitting, White said.
If they can sell out, the attendance would still be nearly double that of any UFC event ever held in North America.
The previous record was set in April of 2009, for UFC 97, at the Bell Centre in Montreal, an event that drew 21,451 fans.
GSP said he can’t wait for the event and he promised fans will be in for a special night.
He and his opponent are both known as nice guys and they had nothing but compliments for each other at the press conference.
Shields is capable of going to toe-to-toe or taking it to the ground, GSP said, adding his opponent’s ground game is among the best in the UFC right now.
“(But) he’s also a clever guy, that’s why he’s so dangerous,” he said. “The thinking fighters are the most dangerous fighters in the world.” Ontario finally lifted its ban on the sport of mixed martial arts last August. And the UFC promptly announced plans tom come to Toronto, creating a swell of excitement among fans here.
Tickets for the event go on sale at all Ticketmaster locations and the Rogers Centre box office on Saturday, Feb. 12, and range from $300 to $800 for floor seats and $50 to $225 for seats in the stands.
UFC fight Club members will have the chance to buy their tickets two days earlier. For more information and to sign up visit www.ufcfightclub.com.