As expected, the UFC has announced that the upcoming middleweight title fight between Anderson Silva and Chael Sonnen has been moved to Las Vegas and will headline UFC 148
The fight was originally pencilled in for a stadium show in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil but a scheduling clash with a United Nations convention made the logistics difficult.
“It took a lot of talking. I finally convinced Anderson to take this fight in Las Vegas,” UFC president Dana White told media assembled in Rio today, confirming rumours that Silva had been extremely reluctant to give up on having the fight take place in his native Brazil.
As many as 80,000 people had been expected to attend the fight if it took place in a Rio soccer stadium but once that fell through, the UFC wanted the fight moved to its home city.
"It was a huge, global event. If we couldn't pull it off in a soccer stadium the only choice was Vegas,” said White. “This is where we wanted it to happen, Anderson obviously wanted it, Chael was okay with it.”
Silva stayed on-message for the conference - "It makes no difference to me. My first championship was in Japan. A fight is a fight” - but sources say he was not happy with the switch initially and has been financially incentivised to ease his misgivings.
He certainly got no solace from Sonnen, who was sitting a few feet away on the same podium and was in ful flow for the benefit of Silva’s countrymen. When Silva said Sonnen had “disrespected my family and my country and above all he disrespected the UFC audience,” Sonnen pretended to fall asleep and made loud snoring noises.
“Yes I did - and you didn’t do a damned thing!” he snapped when he deigned to reply. He then addressed a Brazilian reporter directly. “I am going to destroy him. Our skills are not even close. ... I am not going to talk respect like this guy. I'm going to ask, ‘what is the date and whose ass am I going to whip tonight?’”