Heading into the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s first-ever event in Ontario on April 30, 2011, Georges St. Pierre and Jose Aldo were two of the top three pound-for-pound fighters on the planet, and GSP was the sport’s biggest star. By installing them in the main and co-main event of its first-ever card in Ontario—with Aldo defending his featherweight belt against Canadian Mark Hominick—and building up the event with a two-day fan expo, the UFC pulled out all the stops to ensure UFC 129 was a resounding success.
On fight night, the championship doubleheader was notable chiefly for the strong late showings by two heavy underdog challengers. Upon finding himself completely unable to get St. Pierre to the ground, Jake Shields stood and traded, falling behind badly in the early rounds but finding greater success as the fight went on. By the final round, St. Pierre’s face was a mess and his left eye was clearly bothering him, lending some interest to an otherwise straightforward title defense. In the co-main event, Aldo established his superiority on the feet and on the ground but began to tire in the middle rounds, letting the Canadian back into the fight. The fight ended with Hominick—sporting a grotesque hematoma on his forehead—pummeling Aldo from top position for most of the final round, again making the outcome more suspenseful than the rest of the fight had promised.
UFC 129 was not devoid of fireworks. In their light heavyweight showdown, Lyoto Machida sniped Randy Couture with a “Karate Kid”-style jumping front kick to the chin, landing himself a lifetime position on the UFC’s highlight reel and inducing “The Natural” to hang up the gloves once and for all. It was a bit of a coming-out party for Rory MacDonald, as well, as he ragdolled Nate Diaz for three rounds, slamming him all over the place and largely neutralizing Diaz’s boxing and vaunted submission game.
The UFC’s plans to make the event a huge one worked. UFC 129 pulled in a very respectable 800,000 reported pay-per-view buys while packing the Rogers Centre with over 55,000 fans, smashing the promotion’s previous live attendance record. To this day, UFC 129 is the biggest live MMA event ever in North America and the fourth largest of all-time after Pride Shockwave 2002 (which was promoted in conjunction with K-1 and featured kickboxing as well as MMA bouts), KSW 39 "Colosseum" and UFC 193.