Earlier this week, UFC president Dana White professed welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre was “the most famous athlete ever to come out of Canada.” While much of the hockey-crazed nation scoffed at notion anyone could ever surpass Wayne Gretzky, as my old boss used to say, ‘The numbers don’t lie.’
According to White, both the North American MMA attendance and worldwide mixed martial arts gate records will fall this Saturday when GSP takes the UFC 124 stage. The Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec, Canada is expected to attract more than 23,000 screaming St-Pierre fanboys and garner a live gate of more than $5 million.
UFC 97 in April 2009 took place inside the Bell Centre, as well. That card also featured you know who and currently holds the UFC attendance record of 21,451.
UFC 66 showcased the rematch between former light heavyweight champs Chuck Liddell and Tito Ortiz. That December 2006 show inside the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada earned the company a cool $5,397,300 at the gate.
While UFC 124 may topple all prior Octagon events, the worldwide attendance record will be safe. During Pride FC’s heyday, the Japanese-based promotion often drew crowds of 50,000-plus. In fact, 91,107 fans packed the Tokyo National Stadium to witness “Pride Shockwave 2002.”
No financial numbers were reported for the event.
UFC 124 will be jumping off this Saturday in GSP’s backyard. St-Pierre defends his welterweight crown against Josh Koscheck in the card’s featured contest.