The world of mixed martial arts is invading Canada on Saturday, July 21 as the Ultimate Fighting Championship debuts in Calgary at Scotiabank Saddledome. UFC 149 showdown is billed as one of the most anticipated sports tickets sales in UFC history and was expected to be a sellout event long before tickets went on sale. Previous UFC events in Canada have drawn an overwhelming interest from fans.
According to the Montreal Gazette UFC director of Canadian operations Tom Wright said “I think it’s going to be a great event. One of the great things about coming to a city like Calgary for the first time, is a lot of people will have the chance to experience this for the first time. ” Wright also noted that the unique shape of the Saddledome has created a very interesting seating situation as the “saddle shape” of the venue cut seating capacity from 20,000 to an estimated 19,000 seats.
UFC 149 tickets were released for purchase Thursday, May 10 for members of UFC Fight Club, at UFCFightClub.com. Then, on Friday morning UFC newsletter subscribers ordered tickets through Internet pre-sales at UFC.com. Saturday morning tickets were released to the public and sold out in minutes.
UFC has a great fan base in Canada — UFC 83 debuted in Montreal 2008 and UFC 115 opened in Vancouver 2010 the venues sold out in one minute as tickets were released to the general public, according to the Montreal Gazette. Last year UFC 129 was headlined by St. Pierre v. Shields in Toronto and sold 42,000 tickets on opening day and set a Rogers Centre attendance record of 55,724.
The excitement of UFC events has been building over the past decade with loyal fan support. UFC has grown into a worldwide brand as UFC Hall of Famers Ken Shamrock, Royce Gracie, and Randy Couture have passed the UFC flagship to Georges St. Pierre and Anderson Silva. In August 2011 Owner Dana White brought UFC to the next level striking a $100 million broadcasting deal with FOX Network. UFC events are now aired to over 100 million homes every Friday night through the FOX Network via FX, the new home of UFC.
UFC’s interactive nature with fans provides a following next to none in modern day sports. According to Sports Illustrated, last year White scored a social media coup by airing the UFC’s preliminary pay-per-view fights for free on Facebook.
UFC 149 event from Calgary will feature reigning world champion Jose Aldo taking on No. 1 contender Erik Koch. Another highlighted match is the light heavyweight bout between Mauricio “Shogun” Rua and Thiago Silva. In all there are nine matchups set for UFC 149, along with two weeks’ worth of pre-fight events for Calgary’s UFC fans to enjoy. For the fight card and the full list of events visit the official UFC 149 site.
Calgary Herald reports that tickets for UFC 149 sold at a rapid pace — within the first hour of the Thursday pre-sale UFC Fight Club members were unable to purchase two or more seats together, as only scattered single tickets were left. UFC 149 tickets were on sale Saturday for $85, $125, $200, $275, $400 and $650 via Ticketmaster.
In an effort to limit the amount of tickets scalpers and resellers could purchase UFC limited buyers to just four tickets. A search on StubHub.com today, May 16, came back with only 786 results of the estimated 19,000 tickets. Ticket prices range from $19,998 for the first row floor seats to $175 for press-level.
UFC has already scheduled two more events in Canada later this year — UFC 152 on September 22 in Toronto, and UFC 154 on November 17 in Montreal.