Middleweight rivals Anderson Silva and Vitor Belfort were rumored to rematch at UFC 197, a pay-per-view (PPV) event that was "supposed" to take place inside HSBC Arena in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on March 5, 2016.
But, late last week, Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) announced that "The Spider" would battle Michael Bisping in the main event of UFC Fight Night 83 on Feb. 27, 2016, in London, England (details here).
So, why the change in potential plans?
According to comments from Silva during a recent media conference call (via MMA Fighting), UFC will move the proposed event because of the fragile economic status in Brazil.
"(The plan) was to have me fighting in Brazil against I don't know who. But, with this situation going on in Brazil, economically and everything, the UFC decided to abort this event for now."
No official word from the mixed martial arts (MMA) promotion was ever released with the exception of the aforementioned statement from senior vice president Giovani Decker at the UFC Fight Night 77 post-fight press conference. In addition, UFC never added the event to its official schedule page despite the announcement by one of its international executives.
Meanwhile, UFC matchmaker Sean Shelby today refuted Silva's statement -- and the above linked report from MMAFighting.com -- via his official Twitter account, a sentiment with which Dana White echoed ... and then some.
@guicruzzz @arielhelwani the media is a joke. This is not true.— Sean Shelby (@seanshelby) December 29, 2015
@AJDelgado13 exactly 100% BS and click bait— Dana White (@danawhite) December 29, 2015
While Brazil's economy may be suffering, UFC's business is still booming. In fact, according to Lorenzo Fertitta, his combat sports brand is set to tally a record $600 million in revenue for 2015 alone.
If indeed the money won't come in from Brazil because of economic struggles, British fans have shown in the past that they will always come out in droves when UFC is in town.
Especially when one of their local heroes is headlining a show against one of the greatest MMA fighters of all time.
Sounds like a much safer wager.