In Rio, district attorney suspicious of UFC’s success

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A frequent theme in 2011, the UFC again made the pages of today’s newspaper in Brazil. This time, though, it wasn’t in the sports section. This Wednesday, columnist Ancelmo Gois broke word in “O Globo” daily newspaper that District Attorney Cláudia Condack opened an inquiry into the organizers of UFC Rio 134 after the tickets sold out over the internet in just 74 minutes.

The DA had suspicions the event set for August 27th didn’t release the number of tickets promised to the public.

Buying tickets for events (especially sporting events) in Rio de Janeiro is pandemonium, and it’s a great idea for the DA to always investigate, to make sure the portion of tickets allotted to tourist agencies is fair, to verify that the bank offering pre-sale tickets followed the proper procedures.

It is, however, worth taking a look back at recent numbers promotional president Dana White achieved with his show. April’s UFC 129 in Toronto drew more than 55,000 fans to the Rogers Centre and saw 12 million dollars worth of tickets evaporate in 40 minutes. It would be interesting to query Canadian authorities as to whether they noticed anything fishy going on around there, or if they just accepted the main culprit in the case of the “disappearing” tickets was the show’s success and the public demand so great it drives pay-per-view sales through the roof and nets Dana White Twitter followers in the millions.

In Rio, the HSBC Arena truly was the best option – better, bigger and more modern, with a larger capacity than the Maracanãzinho (which is off limits because the Maracanã stadium next door is being renovated anyways) and the Miécimo gymnasiums. Internet sales, in a city overrun with scalpers and line cutters, may not be the ideal way of getting tickets out there, but it did seem to be the most efficient method in this case.

Now if there’s any doubt in anyone’s mind as to the success the UFC enjoys in Rio, they can have a chat with Christian Ramos, 37, or Izaura Wang, fans prepared to shell out 2,000 dollars to watch an UFC event – travel, tickets and board included, whether in Boston, New Jersey or Toronto.

Ramos with a packed UFC 111 in the background: some fans in Brazil pay more than 2,000 dollars to watch the UFC live.

The two lucked out, but not really: Christian couldn’t manage to buy his way into UFC Rio via the internet, nor UFC 129 in Toronto, and ended up pleading for tickets at a premium.

“It’s stressful, but the energy of the event makes up for it,” he says. “The growth of MMA can transform Brazil. We need a sport that teaches people at a young age to have respect, humility, dedication, discipline, to work hard, and one that can be practiced by people of all social stratas, weights and ages,” adds Izaura, a fan since UFC 1 who even wrote a samba for the UFC.

Now if anyone still has any doubt as to the care and respect fans have for the UFC, they can speak with Mika Halinen, a 26-year-old Canadian. On the eve of the show in Toronto, Mika strolled through the UFC fair harboring no hopes of watching GSP, José Aldo, Randy Couture or Lyoto Machida. Until Josh Koscheck wandered by him, noticed he was wearing a Dethrone T-shirt, Josh’s sponsor, and stuck two courtesy tickets in his hand.

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