The UFC announced their return to Brazil today after a 13-year absence. UFC owners Frank Fertitta, III, Lorenzo J. Fertitta, and Dana White announced that the same Brazilian city that will be home to the 2016 Summer Olympics and the 2014 FIFA World Cup, Rio de Janeiro, will also be home to an international UFC event at the HSBC Arena on Saturday, August, 27, 2011.
“This is another historic day for the UFC,” UFC President Dana White said at a press conference in Brazil earlier this morning. “We couldn’t wait to host our first-ever UFC event in Brazil’s biggest city. Brazilians have given so much to the growth of this sport. I’m excited that we can give back to the country that has given us so many great fighters. From Royce Gracie and Vitor Belfort to ‘Shogun’ Rua, Anderson Silva and Jose Aldo, these fighters are all champions and are so proud of their roots. It’s time for us to bring a live UFC event here and show the people of Brazil how much this sport has grown.”
“This is another giant step forward in our global expansion and in growing UFC into the biggest sport in the world,” said Lorenzo Fertitta. “By bringing world-class fights back to Brazil, we not only secure a foothold in a major international market but we also give back to the people who have supported UFC for nearly 20 years.”
Today’s live press conference, which was streamed on the company’s website, was held at Rio de Janeiro’s City Hall and featured UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva, UFC light heavyweight champion Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo, current 185-pound top contender Vitor Belfort and UFC Hall of Famer Royce Gracie in attendance.
The last — and only — time the UFC held an event in Brazil was back in October 1998 for UFC 17.5: Ultimate Brazil, which took place at Ginasio da Portuguesa in Sao Paulo. Then-UFC middleweight champion Frank Shamrock successfully defended his title by defeating John Lober in the main event, while Vitor Belfort defeated Wanderlei Silva in only 44 seconds on the undercard.