UFC 129: "St. Pierre vs. Shields" is all but a distant memory to Canadian fight fans, who have now set their sights on Georges St. Pierre's next challenge, a welterweight title defense against former Strikeforce strap-hanger Nick Diaz at UFC 137 this October.
But for Toronto tourism and local businesses, the UFC cash cow has left them plenty of green milk -- to the tune of about $40 million.
Take that, New York.
And that figure is a "conservative estimate" according to UFC’s Director of Canadian Operations Tom Wright, who suggests it may increase when the official economic impact report is released this August.
TheStar.com has more:
Overall, Moneris Solutions, Canada’s largest credit and debit card processor, issued a report last month showing a substantial increase in dollars spent in the city on Saturday, April 30, the day of the highly-anticipated Toronto event.
Restaurants enjoyed a 19.2 per cent jump in dollars spent compared week-over-week. Similarly, bars and pubs experienced a 15.7 per cent increase — confirming that in addition to the 55,724 fans at the Rogers Centre, many more watched the popular event outside their home.
The Moneris report also showed a sizable rise in retail spending from people who made their way to the downtown core. Apparel and sporting goods stores saw a 41.3 per cent and a 33 per cent jump in sales respectively.
And many people travelled to Toronto to experience the UFC in person, as evidenced by the 20.3 per cent rise in dollars spent at hotels, says the report.
"Toronto’s hotel occupancy rates were in the high 90s — which doesn’t usually happen in April," notes Wright.
UFC 129 featured a main event pitting welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre putting his strap -- and legacy -- on the line against top contender Jake Shields. "Rush" was forced to battle through a banged up eye but found a way to persevere and take home the unanimous decision win.
Also on the card was a featherweight title fight pitting champion Jose Aldo against unrelenting challenger Mark Hominick. "Scarface" was sluggish but dominant, defeating "The Machine" after five rounds of action.
But the real winners were Toronto tourism and local businesses, who are likely champing at the bit for the UFC to return.