For the first time in its history, Zuffa is bringing its premier mixed martial arts promotion the UFC to Ontario, Canada. On April 30 the Rogers Centre will host UFC 129, the sixth live event held by the UFC in Canada and the first in Ontario since MMA was officially legalized and sanctioned in the province in August of last year. The Toronto event was originally slated for UFC 131 but later changed as the promotion’s busy 2011 schedule fell into place.
The UFC definitely wants to make a statement with its first appearance in Ontario. Thus, UFC 129 is a stacked card packed with Canadian hometown favorites, former champions – both from the UFC and WEC, The Ultimate Fighter alumni, and long-time staples of the UFC. The card unofficially is slated to feature former WEC Lightweight Champion “Smooth” Ben Henderson (11-2) making his UFC debut against Kempo and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt Mark Bocek (9-3), NCAA Div. I national champion “Mr. Wonderful” Phil Davis (7-0) taking on Greco-Roman wrestler and boxer “The Hammer” Matt Hamill (9-2), UFC Hall of Famer and multiple-time champion “The Natural” Randy Couture (19-10) facing former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion “The Dragon” Lyoto Machida (16-2), and in the main event, welterweight king “Rush” Georges St. Pierre (21-2) making his sixth title defense, this time against former Elite XC Welterweight Champion and former Strikeforce Middleweight Champion Jake Shields (26-4-1).
The UFC’s Toronto takeover is expected to be the largest event in the promotion’s history. UFC 129 will coincide with a two-day UFC Fan Expo April 29-30 at the Direct Energy Centre less than two miles down the road from the Rogers Centre. It will be the UFC Fan Expo’s first venture north of the border. The extravaganza will reportedly feature interactive Q&A sessions, meet-and-greets, training and development, and a large collection of UFC fighters.
UFC President Dana White said of the upcoming event, “Canadians have repeatedly shown how much they love the UFC. Fans in Ontario have patiently waited and it will pay off as this one will go down in the history books come April 30. I’m very excited – Toronto is going to break the record and host the biggest mixed martial arts event ever in North America.”
The unofficial fight card is as follows:
Georges St. Pierre vs. Jake Shields
Randy Couture vs. Lyoto Machida
Phil Davis vs. Matt Hamill
Ben Henderson vs. Mark Bocek
Rory MacDonald (10-1) vs. “Lightning” James Wilks (6-4)
Brian Foster (15-5) vs. Sean Pierson (10-4)
Jonathan Brookins (12-2) vs. “The Bull” John Makdessi (7-0)
“Ninja” Daniel Roberts (12-1) vs. “Prince” Claude Patrick (13-1)
“Scarecrow” Pablo Garza (10-1) vs. “Tiger” Yves Jabouin (15-6)
“Pride of El Salvador” Ivan Menjivar (21-8) vs. Charlie Valencia (12-6)
“The Athlete” Jason MacDonald (21-14) vs. Ryan Jensen (15-7)