UFC President Dana White, UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva, and title challenger Chael Sonnen traveled to Rio de Janeiro to announce that they will not be returning to the city for UFC 147 on June 23rd as planned. Instead, the championship fight has been moved to Las Vegas, and will headline UFC 148 at the MGM Grand Garden Area on July 7th.
White stated that while scheduling this event for Brazil in June, that “everything that could go wrong did go wrong”. That includes a United Nations conference, Rio+20, that is scheduled to take place in the city the same weekend as the scheduled event. Another issue that came up was venue, as the organization originally planned on the event taking place in a soccer stadium. But that, too, caused problems.
Another issue was persuading Silva to fight in Las Vegas instead of his home country of Brazil. “He [Anderson] was very upset about not fighting in Brazil,” said White. “He wanted this fight with Chael Sonnen here. It took a lot of talking, and I finally convinced Anderson to take this fight in Las Vegas.”
Now the fight will headline UFC 148, which features an additional championship fight between bantamweights Dominick Cruz and Urijah Faber.
Sonnen was not shy in front of the Brazilian media. “My plan was to come here, take your money, my new belt, and go home back to America,” said Sonnen. “But now this fight will take place in Las Vegas, the fight capital of the world. This is the biggest fight in the history of combat sports. It is disgusting that Anderson walks around with a fake belt when the whole world saw me beat him.”
Silva was not shy in making his disgust with Sonnen obvious, stating “Chael Sonnen doesn’t practice the martial arts. Chael is a wrestler and he does not know what martial arts is. He disrespected my country and my family”.
Dana White confirmed that Vitor Belfort vs. Wanderlei Silva, Fabricio Werdum vs. Mike Russow, and The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil finals will still take place in Brazil. All fights were part of the original schedule for the UFC 147 card. White mentioned that the UFC is still looking for a venue to host the event that same weekend, but not in Rio de Janeiro. Featherweight champion Jose Aldo is likely to headline the event.
In addition to the two championship fights, UFC 148 will also feature Rich Franklin vs. Cung Le, Michael Bisping vs. Tim Boetsch, and Forrest Griffin vs. Tito Ortiz III.
For complete coverage of UFC 148, stay tuned to MMAFrenzy.com