Its official - the UFC is set for the biggest ever event in its fifteen-year history.
UFC147 is confirmed for the Joao Havelange Stadium in Rio de Janeiro on June 23, 2012. The largest crowd ever is expected for the highly anticipated rematch between middleweight champion Anderson Silva and American contender Chael Sonnen, a grudge match two years in the making.
The event also features the live finale of The Ultimate Fighter: Brasil, the showdown between two Brazilians and icons of the sport coaches Vitor Belfort and Wanderlei Silva.
From the beginning of the negotiations for the UFC’s next event in the country, the cities of Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo both emerged as strong options to host the event. Engenhao, home to football club Botafogo and future venue for the 2016 Olympics, has hosted many legendary sports and entertainment events since its opening in 2007.
The event marks the first time for a UFC event in a soccer stadium and the organization expects a record audience. The mark to beat is UFC 129, held in April of 2011 at Rogers Centre in Canada, which had a record attendance of 55,000 fans.
“This will be the biggest sporting event of the year” said UFC President Dana White. “Bigger than the NFL, the NBA, you name it - UFC 147 will be the biggest. The whole world wants to see this fight between Silva and Sonnen. We are broadcast in over 150 countries in 22 languages in half a billion homes. Wherever those fans are, they are going to be watching this fight.”
The rivalry between Anderson Silva (29-4-0) and Chael Sonnen (28-11-1) has produced the biggest grudge match in UFC history. The two bitter rivals first faced each other in August of 2010 at UFC 117 in Oakland, California.
The battle featured arguably the biggest come-from-behind win ever; as Silva, who was being dominated from the beginning of the fight, submitted his American rival with a triangle choke in the last round. It was the seventh of nine title defenses for the Brazilian champion.
In what has been one of the long-awaited rematches in UFC history, Brazilian fans will also get a chance to witness Vitor Belfort (21-9-0) and Wanderlei Silva (34-11-1) square off in the Octagon. In their first meeting in 1998 in São Paulo, Belfort knocked out Silva 44 seconds into their fight.
Since then, MMA fans have eagerly waited for over 10 years to witness the rematch between two legends of the sport. Belfort is coming off of a win over American fighter Anthony Johnson in UFC Rio (UFC 142), while Wanderlei - who has struggled to find good form since joining the UFC back in 2007 - stopped Cung Le at UFC 139.