BELO HORIZONTE, Brazil – On the eve of this weekend's UFC 147 event in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, the promotion is already planning a return trip to South America's largest country.
Marshall Zelaznik, the UFC's managing director of international development, today revealed during a UFC 147 pre-event press conference that the organization is planning to visit Brazil again before year's end.
) has confirmed with additional sources close to the event that promotion officials are targeting an Oct. 13 date at HSBC Arena in Rio de Janeiro for the event, which could serve as 153. However, those same sources warned that both the date and host city of the event could potentially change before an official announcement is made.
The UFC first visited Brazil in October 1998 for UFC 17.5 in Sao Paulo. The company didn't return to the country until August 2011 for UFC 134. However, the overwhelming support of the country for the UFC has earned Brazil quick return trips for January's UFC 142 fight card, as well as this Saturday's upcoming UFC 147 event.
"The growth of the UFC here is based on the foundation of Brazilian jiu-jitsu, and a real foundation for this sport in this country – the icons, the Brazilian fighters, the champions – have put the UFC in a great position for success here," Zelaznik said.
Brazil has already hosted two recent championship fights involving native athletes, with middleweight champion Anderson Silva defeating Yushin Okami at UFC 134 and featherweight titleholder Jose Aldo downing Chad Mendes at UFC 142.
While Zelaznik declined to speculate what fights might take place at the October event, he did suggest anything is possible.
"I would anticipate championship fights coming regularly and often to Brazil," Zelaznik said. "We have big plans in the new year. We have another event coming this year, so you can expect to see a lot more from the UFC in Brazil."
Featuring a headlining rematch between former PRIDE champion Wanderlei Silva and former UFC champ Rich Franklin, "UFC 147: Silva vs. Franklin II" takes place Saturday at Estadio Jornalista Felipe Drumond in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. The evening's main card airs on pay-per-view, while prelims air on FX and stream on Facebook.