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The Globe and Mail

Ultimate Fighting Championship has record sellout in Toronto

UFC 129 fighter Georges St-Pierre answers questions at a news conference in Toronto on Tuesday February 8, 2011.

Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press/Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press

Toronto has embraced the UFC with record-breaking arms, setting marks for attendance and an eight-digit gate for the April 30 mixed martial arts card at the Rogers Centre.

UFC 129 became an official sellout Saturday morning at 55,000, with a gate in excess of $10-million. And that's only part of the financial story. The historic stadium show is expected to attract a pay-per-view bonanza via broadcasts in 137 countries and territories.

UFC 100 reportedly drew a UFC-record 1.6 million pay-per-view buys. At the current $49.99 a shot, that's $80 million in revenue - more if viewers opted for the $59.99 HD version.

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While part of that money goes to the pay-per-view provider, the numbers show just what kind of bumper night the UFC can look forward to April 30.

Tom Wright, the UFC's director of Canadian operations, described the ticket sales as "overwhelming." More than 40,000 tickets went Thursday in the first day of a pre-sale to members of the UFC Fight Club, prompting the UFC to put more on the market. The rest were snapped up Friday, in another pre-sale, and Saturday, when tickets were made available to the general public.

Fifteen seconds after online sales started at 10 a.m. Saturday, there was a queue of 4,000 people waiting to buy, according to Mr. Wright. Online tickets were snapped up in seven minutes. Mr. Wright says it would have been quicker but a certain amount of time was needed to process credit cards.

Now the spotlight switches to the secondary ticket market. StubHub, a ticket reseller, was offering seats from $143 to $9,999 Saturday. Tickets originally ranged in price from $50 to $800.

The Rogers Centre show doubles the largest gate and attendance records in UFC history. It has also set a single-day event gate record for the domed stadium.

"I think it really is an important milestone for the organization because we've now demonstrated we can sell out big, big venues," said Mr. Wright.

The previous UFC attendance mark was 23,152 for UFC 124 at Montreal's Bell Centre in December. The old gate record was $5.4-million, set in December 2006 in Las Vegas at UFC 66.

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The Rogers Centre card will be the UFC's sixth in Canada. Montreal has hosted UFC 83, 97, 113 and 124 while Vancouver hosted UFC 115.

The main event features welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre of Montreal against Jake Shields. Mark "The Machine" Hominick of Thamesford, Ont., takes on featherweight champion José Aldo in the co-main event.

The Canadian Press

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