Anderson Silva didn't lash out publicly at Dana White when the UFC president declared he wanted to move the rematch with Chael Sonnen to Las Vegas, USA - but on the quiet he was very upset.
It took the UFC president 75 minutes to convince him to fight Chael Sonnen in Las Vegas instead of Rio de Janeiro and this was the reason for the press conference delay yesterday.
The talk was heated - initially Anderson refused to change the venue of what could be the rematch of the century. Two years ago, the Brazilian middleweight champion defeated Sonnen in an epic combat. The upcoming confrontation was set to occur at Stadium Engenhao in Rio, and would have been the biggest show of UFC history with 80 thousand tickets to be sold.
But the date coincided with international events in the city and White alleged Rio would not have the infrastructure to hold the fighting event. “There wouldn't have been enough hotel rooms,” he said.
The champion was frustrated and insisted on fighting in Brazil. Anderson told Dana that Sonnen had been disrespectful with him, his family and all the Brazilian. “He deserves to taught a lesson here, I owe this to my people", repeated Silva. But Dana was adamant. “If there is no way to make the event in a stadium, it has to be in Las Vegas,” said the company president.
Dana explained that Las Vegas is a city that has structure to promote the UFC from one day to the next. The capital of betting and fights is there, remarked the boss. He reminded Silva of the appeal that the bout will have in the United States landing as it does in the week of the celebrations for Independence Day.
He spoke about the potential of the Pay-per-view sales it would generate and in the end, he guaranteed a good percentage of the pay-per-view share to Anderson. As with so many things in life, money talks louder than anything.
After a lot of discussion Anderson concluded by turning to White and asking “Okay, so tell me - what do you want from me?” White answered, “I want you go to Las Vegas and perform well, make it a great fight.” It was then the champion formally accepted the mission. “If it has to be like this, I will beat this guy wherever. He deserves a lesson.”
Dana was excited with the 'yes' of Anderson. He told him he was the “perfect UFC ambassador in Brazil” and also reaffirmed that the Brazilian “is the best fighter ever made in MMA - today everybody talks about Jon Jones but for me you are the best by far,” said a smiling White.
Anderson now blames the UFC’s Brazilian investment partner Eike Batista and his IMX company for the failure to organize efficiently what would have been the ‘UFC Rio 3’. IMX is UFC partner and promotes the fights of the UFC in Brazil. Anderson thinks they didn't understand the size of the event and didn't have sufficient competence to make it.
Anderson's managers are frustrated with the moving of the bout to USA but they recognize that it can be a good deal. The pay-per-view rates promise to beat or to get close to the record. And, having reversed his refusal to fight in the US, the champion scores important points with the organisation.
The UFC plans to invest in academies in Brazil with the brand Anderson Silva/UFC. The event recognizes in Anderson the biggest MMA talent of all time and wishes to use his image even when he gets retired.
“Anderson knows this partnership with UFC is for life,” Jorge Guimaraes told Noblat. “There are no motives to get into friction with the event, so we accepted to fight in Vegas. We don't go against the UFC, we go on the same side - after all, Anderson is its employee.”
The duel could have been kept in Brazil but it would take place at a smaller location than a soccer stadium. "A fight of this magnitude has to be at a grand place and Las Vegas is a good venue,” Jorge said.
UFC 147 has no venue set as yet but the schedule stays untouched: June 23. The event will likely be headlined by Wanderlei Silva and Vitor Belfort, unless the organisation confirms the featherweight champion Jose Aldo to defend his belt in the same card.