Coming up this Saturday, April 30, the UFC makes its return to Canada and its first venture into Ontario. UFC 129: St. Pierre vs. Shields comes to you live from the Rogers Center, formerly known as The SkyDome, in Toronto.
This event will break MMA and UFC records and be the biggest event in the sport’s history. When tickets went on sale, a projected 42,000 seats were sold out in time; forcing officials to scramble together an additional 13,000 seats for a total of 55,000 sold out seats and estimated gate revenue of around $11 million. Secondly, this will be the first UFC event in history that every single fight will be shown between the UFC’s Facebook page, Spike TV and PPV. Let’s take a look at the Main Card, broadcast on PPV, and see how it breaks down.
The first bout of the broadcast is a Lightweight contest between native Torontonian Mark Bocek (9-3) and former WEC Champion “Smooth” Ben Henderson (12-2). This will be the third consecutive time Bocek has fought on a card headlined by GSP and the second consecutive fight in Canada. Bocek’s last fight was an impressive first round submission victory over Dustin Hazelett at UFC 124: St. Pierre vs. Koscheck II back in December. Coincidentally, Bendo’s last fight, an unforgettable final bout at WEC 53: Henderson vs. Pettis, also took place last December. Itching to finally make his UFC debut, Henderson was not handed a “tune-up fight” in Mark Bocek who has gone 5-3 since making his UFC debut in 2007. Both men have a strong grappling background, as well as decent striking, which could make this fight more exciting than many are anticipating.
The next bout on the broadcast features MMA legend Randy “The Natural” Couture (19-10) as he takes on Lyoto “The Dragon” Machida (16-2) in the Light Heavyweight division. Not only is this one of only two bouts without a Canadian fighter, it may also be a bittersweet ending regardless of the outcome. In the weeks leading up to this fight, Couture has announced that it will probably be his last fight. Win, lose or draw, he said “he wants to leave on his own terms” and move on to the next chapter of his life and continue his acting. If Machida loses this fight, it will be the third loss in a row and could possibly be the end of his UFC career as well. The cliché phrase “styles makes fights” is a perfect fit for this bout as Randy is a well-versed wrestler and Lyoto is a very elusive striker. A loss for Machida may cost him his UFC career and a win for Randy would be the perfect way to end his.
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The third bout of the PPV broadcast, and the other fight without a Canadian fighter, is a Light Heavyweight bout between Vladimir “The Janitor” Matyushenko (25-5) and Jason “The Hitman” Brilz (18-3-1). This fight was originally set to go down at UFC 122 last November, but Brilz was forced out of the bout due to an injury. In Brilz’ last fight, which many felt he actually won, ended in a controversial decision loss to Little Nog last May. Many of Vlad’s victories have come by way of Knockout and he has never been submitted. Consequently, Brilz has never been knocked out and most of his wins come by way of Submission. That little tidbit alone could really be what makes this fight interesting.
The Co-Main Event of the evening features Jose “Scarface” Aldo (18-1) making his UFC debut and defending his Featherweight Championship against the Ontarian Mark “The Machine” Hominick (20-8). When Aldo pulled out of his first scheduled title defense back in January, and Josh Grispi lost his shot, it was unsure who would be next to challenge Aldo. The answer came just a few weeks later when Hominick brutally knocked out George Roop at UFC: Fight for the Troops II. Aldo, who has not even come close to losing since 2006, is facing what may be his toughest opponent in quite some time. With the Canadian crowd sure to be in his corner, Hominick will look to be the first man to get passed Jose Aldo in over five years.
The Main Event of the evening is a highly anticipated Welterweight Champion bout between and Canadian Superstar Georges “Rush” St. Pierre (21-2) and Cesar Gracie’s Jake Shields (26-4-1). On paper, these two men are very similar - they haven’t lost in many years, they’ve dominated all their recent opponents, they are very well-rounded, have held championship gold, and have been labeled as “boring fighters.” They have only been stopped a combined three times, and have only three decision losses between them. When Jake Shields and GSP enter the cage together, one of two things will happen – either their grappling will come into play and it will turn into a five-round, slow-paced wrestling match or their grappling will negate each other and it will turn into a striking match.
Since the fight has been announced, it has been looked at as possibly being one of the most boring fights in UFC history due to both men having gone to decision in their past three fights each and having more victories by decision than any other method. However, many people overlook the fact that they have both finished some very tough fighters in the past and anything can happen in MMA. For many years, Shields and GSP have been at the top of numerous Welterweight rankings and the winner of this fight will most likely be crowned the #1 Welterweight in the World. If Shields wins, it may shut down any future talks about a Super Fight between GSP and Anderson Silva.
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In addition to a record-breaking attendance and all the fights being shown, the UFC 129 PPV will also be starting an hour sooner than the usual PPV time. Instead of beginning at 10PM ET/7PM PT, this card will begin at 9PM ET/6PM PT. Don’t forget to stop by the MMA Valor Chat Room to talk about all the fights as they go down.