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White says yes to fan who asks if he can strap belt on champion

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Associated Press
4/29/2011 6:19:13 PM
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TORONTO -- Mixed martial arts fan Trevor Fitzgerald might want to buy a lottery ticket.

The Fort Frances, Ont., resident thought he lucked out when he won a draw at a local restaurant that covered his flight, hotel and tickets for UFC 129 on Saturday night at Rogers Centre.

His dream weekend was taken to another level Friday.

After waiting an hour for a chance to ask Dana White a question during a fan expo, Fitzgerald offered some good-natured criticism of the UFC president. He said White seems to have trouble putting the belt on the champion after a fight.

Fitzgerald asked if he could do the honour after the main event between Jake Shields and welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre of Montreal. White took a few seconds to ponder the offer before stunning Fitzgerald and the crowd with his answer.

"That's a tough request for me to get to bring you in and put the belt on, but (screw) it, I'll do it, yes," White said as the hundreds of fans in attendance roared their approval.

White said he didn't have problems with the straps until the UFC started using a new beltmaker. They have since made adjustments that make them easier to snap on.

"They got Velcro for me, like a little kid when you tie your shoes," White said. "Now I Velcro the belt on so it's a piece of cake now."

White had one of his employees make arrangements so that Fitzgerald can come down to ringside from his field-level seat for the main event.

Fitzgerald said he isn't worried about his technique when the time comes to strap the belt on the champion. He's just thrilled that he'll be on centre stage in front of 55,000 fans.

"I'm sure I'll screw it up, I'm sure I'll be 10 times worse than (White)," Fitzgerald said with a laugh. "But that's not the point. The point is I'll be in the octagon for the biggest UFC event in history."

Fitzgerald is confident the Canadian fighter will come through with the victory.

"To be honest with you, I'm not doing it if it's Jake Shields," Fitzgerald said. "Maybe I'll go in the ring anyway and hand it back to Dana and say, 'I'm not putting it on him.'

"As long as it's GSP that wins I'll try and put it around his waist when it's over."

White took questions for about an hour at the Direct Energy Centre on the eve of the UFC's first appearance in Toronto. Lineups were long at the vendor stalls throughout the venue as fighters signed autographs and took pictures with fans.

While White did not have any more tickets to give away to the sold-out event, he also agreed to let some lucky fans sit next to him cageside and beside the ring girls.

Plus he offered to get tickets for a fan to attend the August show in Rio De Janeiro provided the fan in question got himself to Brazil. White turned down fans who wanted GSP's shirt or wanted to walk into the arena with the fighters.

Dana White (Photo: GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images)

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(Photo: GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images)
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