Belfort, Silva set to headline pay-per-view
After a few hiccups, UFC 147 finally has its home.
The pay-per-view, which will be the UFC's third event in Brazil in 10 months, will take place June 23 at the Mineirinho indoor stadium in Belo Horizonte, which is the capital and largest city in the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais. Belo Horizonte's metropolitan area has more than 5 million people. Mineirinho holds more than 25,000 fans.
UFC officials on Friday made the venue and date official for the card, which has undergone several major changes from the original plan.
UFC 147 will be headlined by a rematch between Brazilian legends Vitor Belfort and Wanderlei Silva, who currently can be seen coaching opposite each other on the first season of "The Ultimate Fighter Brazil." The two first fought at UFC Brazil in October 1998, a bout won by Belfort in just 44 seconds. The co-main event is set to be a heavyweight bout between Brazilian Fabricio Werdum and Mike Russow. In addition, the middleweight and featherweight finals of TUF Brazil
The UFC's return to Brazil, and first visit there under the Zuffa banner, came last August at the HSBC Arena in Rio de Janeiro for UFC 134. And in January, UFC 142 took place there, as well.
UFC 147 was planned for a soccer stadium in Rio with Anderson Silva headlining in his home country, defending his title in a rematch against Chael Sonnen. But complications arose in doing the show there when the United Nations had a conference booked at the same time. With fan expectations in excess of 60,000, U.N. organizers balked to Rio city officials and the pressure was on to change the date for Silva-Sonnen.
UFC president Dana White insisted a fight as big as the rematch either needs to take place in a Brazilian soccer stadium, which likely would beat the UFC's attendance mark of 55,000 set last year in Toronto, or the fight needed to move to Las Vegas. And that's what the UFC decided to do, moving Silva-Sonnen to the main event at UFC 148 on July 7.
That left Belfort-Silva as the main event – still a big draw for Brazilian fans, but not worthy of a soccer stadium. So now, the UFC will branch out into a new part of Brazil for the event rather than staying in Rio.
According to a release from the UFC, the agreement to hold the card at Mineirinho will be made official on Tuesday at a meeting between Brazilian officials, stadium officials and the UFC, which will be attended by Belfort.
"It is great for our fans and for the UFC to be able to stage events in new parts of Brazil," Marshall Zelaznik, the UFC's managing director of international development, said in a statement. "The UFC is exploding everywhere in the country and Minas Gerais, being the third biggest state in the country, seemed like the perfect place for this. Not only has Mineirinho received some major acts through the years, but it is also located in a central and touristic area of the city. It will certainly be a fantastic experience for the fans."