Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) today (Dec. 15) announced its long-awaited return to Brazil, currently scheduled for the HSBC Arena in Rio de Janeiro on Aug. 27, 2011.
On hand for today's announcement, which was delivered via live press conference at Rio de Janeiro's City Hall, was a virtual who's-who of Brazilian UFC stars including current middleweight champion Anderson Silva, reigning light heavyweight kingpin Mauricio Rua and even recently anointed UFC featherweight champ Jose Aldo.
Also making an appearance was current 185-pound number one contender Vitor Belfort, who stopped Wanderlei Silva in just 44 seconds under the UFC banner during its first foray into Brazil back in 1998 in San Paulo.
Even UFC pillar and grappling legend Royce Gracie was in attendance.
A return to Brazil has long been on Zuffa's radar, but perhaps not a priority until recently after the rapid economic growth -- coupled with a winning bid to host the 2016 Summer Olympics -- made the destination much more lucrative.
From UFC President Dana White (via Yahoo Sports):
"The economy is doing extremely well down here. The fact that these guys got the Olympics, the (2014) World Cup and all these big events, it just made sense. The economy has really been kick started and there are a lot of good things going on in Brazil ... Because of how big this is [stateside], people were always asking me about Brazil and when it would happen and I always said it probably won’t happen for a while because we weren’t focused on it. But when they got the Olympics, I said, ‘Now we’re interested,’ and we really began to look at Brazil."
The summer pay-per-view (PPV) event is expected to feature an all-star line-up consisting primarily of Brazilian fighters, including the aforementioned roster of current and former champions.
Is asking for Vitor Belfort vs. Wanderlei Silva II being too greedy?
See you in Brazil, Maniacs.