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UFC 129 Conference Call Updates, News And Notes

The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is hosting a conference call for UFC 129: St. Pierre vs. Shields. Follow along here at SBNation.com for all the details, updates and news.

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UFC's Dana White Talks UFC 129 Ticket Sales, The Ultimate Fighter And Not Watching Fedor Emelianenko

If there was any theme from today's UFC 129 conference call with the media, it was that the UFC was up to quite a bit. Not really about UFC 127 even though main eventers B.J. Penn and Jon Fitch were on the line, not really about UFC 129 since, as aforementioned Penn and Fitch were there, and not really about either of those events given the news that White shared: The Ultimate Fighter will be starting its international franchise this year, likely beginning in the Philippines.

If I had a guess, I'd say the timing of the call is directly related to stamping Strikeforce news and the knob to turn in the media cycle. It isn't as if there isn't UFC news. The call is a clear demonstration the organization is up to quite a bit. It's just that the lack of focus on the call is awfully strange and the timing is more than coincidental.

In any event, there are a few key takeaways from the event.

First, with the voracious response from ticket buyers for UFC 129, the organization's first stadium card, the UFC doesn't really seem to know where the ceiling is in terms of appetite in Canada. They reiterated they're not sure if it's 60,000 or 80,000. They also aren't sure if other cities that have seen UFC success, Vancouver and Montreal, can handle a stadium show. However, White believes that with the right fight - and Georges St. Pierre vs. Anderson Silva has to qualify - the sky appears to be the limit in the Great White North.

White also said if the UFC locks up deals it's currently engaged in in the next few months, they'll be in over one billion homes.

Another piece of big news is the growth of The Ultimate Fighter franchise. White said the UFC is going to be launching international versions of all of these shows and the first one, likely to take place in the Philippines, could begin in 2011.

White also doubled down on his belief that MMA under the UFC banner is going to be the most popular sport in the world, something that's as ludicrous today as it was when he said it over a year ago. He also said UFC 129's impact on the Toronto was going to be a conservative $40 million. This was used in reference to the New York legalization campaign, but as we've discussed earlier, talking about $10 or even $40 million in a state having to make budget cuts to the tune of $10 billion is as worthwhile as attacking windmills.

UFC 127, the UFC's second show in Australia, is already a sellout. This show has 400 more tickets than the previous UFC show, UFC 110, which was held at the Acer Arena. This upcoming event will also be held in that venue.

The topic of Strikeforce: Fedor vs. Silva only came up once. A reporter asked White about his response to Strikeforce President Scott Coker saying he was glad White watched the show. White, likely fibbing, said he didn't watch and that friends texted him to let him know what was going on. Whatever.

In terms of predictions for UFC 129's main event, Jon Fitch didn't have one. B.J. Penn said he thinks Jake Shields has a chance, but he also said Dan Henderson would do well against George St. Pierre, so take his prediction with a massive grain of salt.

The UFC also said they are going to be adding shows, to the point where there will be events in Las Vegas and Australia simultaneously.

As you can see, the topics were all over the place, but the message was clear: 2011 stands to be another banner year for the UFC. Here goes nothing.


Dana White: I Never Saw The Strikeforce Show

- White says $1.5 million will go to Toronto because of ticket sales. Tom Wright says 5% of gross sale tickets will go to athletic commission.

- White says he's not in New York right now to help with Olympic sanctioning.

- White says if Kenny Florian can make the weight at 145lbs, he'll be a serious challenger.

- BJ Penn says "it's going to be hard to be competitive if you chop off your right leg" in terms of Florian's weight cut to featherweight.

- In terms of having a future of 155lbs, BJ Penn says "I don't even like cutting the weight". Says it's not a tough cut, but he's not sure it's ultimately a healthy thing.

- B.J. Penn seems to be much happier that he's fighting at welterweight, especially an opponent the caliber of Jon Fitch.

- Dana White says he didn't see the Strikeforce show.

- Jon Fitch has no opinion on Georges St. Pierre vs. Jake Shields. Penn says Jake Shields will do well. "It's a toss-up," says Penn. Penn also says Dan Henderson would do well against St. Pierre. Penn's got no preference in terms of who he wants to fight.


Dana White Says The Ultimate Fighter To Start International Franchise In 2011

- White talks selling tickets in the down economy and says people still need to be entertained.

- White also says the winner of B.J. Penn vs. Jon Fitch is "the number one guy" for the welterweight title.

- In terms of the "next" Toronto show, White says he's not sure. He says he's not sure how high the ceiling is.

- White says there won't be a bad seat in the entire Rogers Centre, although there have to be some concerns

- BJ Penn congratulates White on selling out UFC 129.

- In terms of the ceiling on how high they could've gone, they aren't sure.

- In terms of creating a show that is every year the biggest show of the year, and Dana reiterates that with the right fit "who knows" how high they could go.

- Dana White does not know how close the UFC is in getting to Melbourne, Australia.

- In terms of returning to Las Vegas, White says they want to keep adding the number of shows. "We're going to be putting on more fights in more places." White says there might be a fight in Las Vegas and Australia at the same time.

- White says the economic impact on Toronto for UFC 129 will be $40 million.

- White says The Ultimate Fighter is going to air in every country. 2011 will be the year. UFC is going to do TUF UK, TUF Canada. First one in 2011 will be TUF Philippines.


UFC 127: BJ Penn Says Matt Hughes Is Best Training Partner To Prepare For Jon Fitch

- Jon Fitch says B.J. Penn is dangerous in any weight class. As a welterweight he says he has an advantage with size. Says he's been working on speed.

- When asked if it's hard to get motivation up, Fitch says "When fighting BJ Penn? Hell no."

- White says he's normally cocky about his product, but was nervous this time. Says he wonders even after 55,000 he wonders how many more he could've sold.

- In terms of a show in Dallas, he says UFC 129 ticket sales motivates him. Says, however, as big as the stadium is there aren't enough hotel rooms.

- Dana; "It's a huge milestone for us." White reiterates that the UFC will be the biggest sports in the world.

- White not sure if he'd do stadiums in other cities. He said you can do them with the right fights, but is very non-committal.

- B.J. Penn says in training with Matt Hughes, it came about by talking to Hughes' boxing coach Matt Pena. Pena gave BJ Hughes' number. Wasn't sure about the response he was going to get. Says he had a great time training and Hughes is the best partner he could've had.


UFC 129: Dana White "UFC Will Be In One Billion Homes"

UFC President Dana White opens the call. BJ Penn and Jon Fitch are on the line. Tom Wright, head of Canadian operations, is also on the line.

- Dana says last set of international fights were sellouts. Goes over Rogers Centre UFC 129 records. Largest North American gate, a Rogers Centre record. Says the event will do $11 million gate.

- Dana says 17,000 tickets sold for UFC 127, added 400 seats over the last Australia event.

- "Not at all," says Dana in terms of whether he was expecting the UFC 129 ticket sales to move like that. "Absolutely blown away by the response."

- Dana uses UFC 129's ticket sales prove UFC will be biggest sport in the world.

- He also says when "new deals" get done, UFC will be in over a billion home.

- There is not any info yet on where tickets are being purchased, but they expect a worldwide audience to attend.

- Says UFC 129 will be attending 75% mark of Canadians.

- When asked about boxing gates being higher than MMA's, White says boxing doesn't sell tickets to fans and casinos instead. "I don't ever want to be in that situation".


UFC 129 Conference Call Updates, News And Notes

Join Luke Thomas (@MMANation) at 2pm ET for the UFC 129 media conference call. You may recall UFC 129 is set to be a blockbuster event given the massive ticket sales. This call will be an update to that event as well as further details on other planned overseas UFC events. Details about UFC 129: St. Pierre vs. Shields and other events (paraphrased from the press release):

As for what this means for future stateside events, no one knows. The market reality of the pay-per-view business generally means that requisite media attention and pay-per-view markets has to come from North America. That means, generally, the bigger fights are stateside or in Canada. But with burgeoning markets across the world, perhaps that dynamic will begin to shift.

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