Vitor Belfort vs. Wanderlei Silva tapped as co-main event in Brazil
After months of anticipation, what is likely to be the biggest show in UFC history is now official.
UFC 147 will take place June 23 at Joao Havelange Stadium – also known as the Estadio Olimpico and Engenhao – in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The UFC finally made the card official early Monday afternoon. The main event, as expected, will be a middleweight title fight rematch between longtime champion Anderson Silva and his fiercest rival – and the man who came closest to beating him in the UFC – Chael Sonnen. The co-main event will be a rematch between current TUF Brazil coaches Vitor Belfort and Wanderlei Silva, who first fought at UFC Brazil in October 1998.
Estadio Olimpico holds more than 45,000 fans for soccer matches, but the UFC is expecting to eclipse its attendance record of 55,000 set last year at UFC 129 in Toronto. UFC president Dana White has said he expects 80,000 fans for the event, which will see tickets go on sale sometime in May. Attendance of 80,000 fans would have been quite possible had the UFC been able to hold the event at Maracana, which seats more than 80,000 for soccer. But that stadium, the largest in Brazil, is undergoing renovations for the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympic Games, which Rio is hosting.
Regardless, White expects the event to be enormous, both from a live attendance perspective as well as from a broadcast perspective.
“This will be the biggest sporting event of the year,” White said in a release from the UFC. “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 UFC settled on Rio for the event after running into roadblocks in Sao Paulo, Brazil’s largest city, which had noise ordinance issues near the stadium that would have been an issue with the timing of the event, which will need to sync up with normal pay-per-view start times of 10 p.m. Eastern in the United States.