UFC 129 has come and gone and the numbers tell the record breaking story. 55,724 people filled the Rogers Centre on Saturday April 30th, making $12.075 million (US). To put that in perspective, the previous record was held at UFC 124. Headlined by Georges St-Pierre vs Josh Koscheck, the attendance at the Bell Centre in Montreal was 23,152 and the gate earned $5.397 million (US). Both these events took place on Canadian soil, both set records proving that this country is crazy about Mixed Martial Arts.
If the numbers told the story of success, then the fights themselves offered a little bit of everything. We witnessed many things that we don’t usually get to see on any other UFC show. Randy Couture fought for the last time in the Octagon. Win or lose, he said this would be it. Many thought he would lose against former champion, Lyoto “The Dragon” Machida, but no one could predict just how he would lose. Machida took a page out of the original Karate Kid movie, knocking Couture out with a jumping front kick. Much like Daniel-san’s crane kick. Machida gave credit to Steven Seagal for showing him the kick. We also saw the toughness of Toronto fighter Mark Hominick. With a grotesque baseball-sized swelling on his forehead from a Jose Aldo elbow strike, Hominick would not back down from the champion. He almost pulled off the win at the closing minutes of the fight when he had the champ on his back as he ground and pounded on him.
Other highlights of note were Pablo Garza’s fantastic flying triangle submission and John Makdessi’s lightening quick spinning back fist knockout win. Then there was Kelowna, BC’s Rory MacDonald who took a page out of the WWE rule book and suplexed Nate Diaz three times. Many of these would be the highlight of the night on any other UFC Event, but on a night where everyone wanted to show their best in front of the largest MMA North American audience, the fighters came to perform.
That brings us to the main event. For the first two rounds, Welterweight Champion, Georges St-Pierre looked sharp in his stand up, challenger Jake Shields had little to answer, as his take downs were stuffed and he was being out classed on the feet. By the end of the second round, GSP suffered an eye poke and seemed visibly panicked by the loss of sight in his left eye. For the rest of the fight he fought tentative, counter boxing Shields. I was disappointed to see Jake Shields not push the action and try to take it to a shaken GSP. The result was a lack luster decision win for the champ, Georges St-Pierre.
UFC 129 may have ended flat, but the card itself was phenomenal and the spectacle of the event, from the fan expo, to the panel where every UFC champion answered questions, to the fight card itself, was everything UFC officials hoped it would be when they fought so hard to get MMA legal in Ontario. I think the economic boom that Toronto got for the weekend of UFC 129, had the Ontario government wondering why they didn’t do it sooner. Hot 103 Music Director, Adam West is also happy… as he used my picks in the last issue of the Filipino Journal to win $10. I went 4/5 on my main card picks! Congrats buddy, I’ll take my cut in Slurpee form.