February 19, 2011
St. Pierre bigger than GretzkySo says UFC whose TV reach could soon hit a billion homes
By CHRIS DOUCETTE, QMI Agency
TORONTO - Fathers across Canada may some day be teaching their sons arm bars and guillotine chokes instead of wrist shots and hip checks.
Go ahead and laugh, but it’s not nearly as silly as it sounds.
A couple months ago, UFC president Dana White caused a stir in Canada when he said: “Georges St. Pierre is the most famous Canadian athlete in the world.” Everyone, myself included, immediately thought of Wayne Gretzky.
But then White qualified his statement by asking: When was the last time Gretzky had trouble walking around in the Philippines?
White said GSP was recently in the southeast Asian country and “he couldn’t leave his hotel.”
The UFC aims to be in a billion homes around the world later this year. That’s a far cry from the number of homes The Great One could be seen in before he retired from hockey.
White vows to take the UFC “to the next level.”
“Everything is growing, everything is getting bigger,” he said. “We’re going to be putting on more fights in more places.”
But White said the UFC will need more mixed martial arts fighters as it grows. The company plans to use its reality show, The Ultimate Fighter, to cultivate new talent.
The show, which begins its 13th season next month, will start taping in other countries beginning with the Philippines later this year, White said. And yes, Canada will be included.
But Canadian MMA fighter Sean Pierson, who will fight in UFC 129 at the Rogers Centre, warns there are a lot of variables to getting on the show. The 34-year-old Pickering native tried to get on the show in the U.S. more than once before he was signed by the UFC last year.
“You have to keep in mind that it’s a TV show,” he told the Toronto Sun recently. “So being a good fighter isn’t enough, you also have to be a good fit for the show.”
American Jon Fitch, who fights B.J. Penn in the main event at UFC 127 on Feb. 26, also had advice for young fighters.
“A lot of guys jump into fighting way too early,” he said. “You should be
training hardcore, developing your skill set for three to five years at