by Steven Marrocco – MMAWeekly.com
LOS ANGELES – UFC
president Dana White didn’t flinch when asked about ticket sales for UFC 104 on
“Dude, I’m (expletive) thrilled
in this economy that we’re doing what we’re doing,” he said.
UFC 104, slated for the Staples
Center in downtown Los Angeles, is the second trip to the City of Angeles for
the promotion since May 2006.
White also didn’t flinch when
he told gathered reporters that he had given away 3,300 tickets to the event.
While it was unclear how many of those tickets were “comps” given away to local
businesses for the event, the number was significant. The Staples Center holds
up to 20,000 fans.
“The people that couldn’t
afford ’em came and found me, and I gave ’em to them.”
The last time the UFC came to
the Staples Center, tickets topped out at $1,000 apiece. That was at the height
of a real estate bubble that raked in profits for Wall Street and beyond.
Los Angeles’ current economic
outlook lies in stark contrast to those days. The city is deeply in debt and
still wrestling with employment shortages. The state’s financial problems are
far worse. There’s a crunch on expendable income.
Tickets for UFC 104 start at
$50 and top out at $600. As of three days ago, White said the current take from
live gate revenues is north of $2 million. UFC 60, headlined by stars Matt
Hughes and Royce Gracie, did a reported $2.9 million in total at the box
Still, with walk-up ticket
sales, Saturday’s show could match, or exceed, the first take.
White said his promotion was
scaling prices back everywhere to take the economy into account.
“We’re conscious of the
problems that are going on in this country, and we try to price them the best
we can,” he said. “Still, (we’ve) got to pay a guy, still have to run a
business. But you can’t crush the fans and price them out of the fights.”
At UFC 104, Brazilians Lyoto
Machida and Mauricio "Shogun" Rua headline the fight in Machida’s
second turn as a main draw (UFC 98, Machida vs. Evans, drew a reported 635,000
pay-per-view buys). Co-headliners Cain Velasquez and Ben Rothwell are
relatively new to the scene as well, with Velasquez serving once as second
White, however, was unconcerned
that UFC 104 contained no proven draws.
“I don’t agree with that,” he
said. “I think that when you have a knockout win the way that Lyoto Machida has
his last couple fights, fight fans know. Fight fans know who
they like and who they want to watch, and Machida has this mystique about him
right now. Shogun just knocked out Chuck Liddell. I think this is a very
“I honestly and truly believe,
without no promoter (expletive) hype, that these two are gonna go at it on
Saturday night, and I think people want to see it.”