Ultimate Fighting Championship President Dana White confirmed that the UFC will return to Brazil in 2012.
In wake of the tremendous success of UFC 134, UFC President Dana White made the decision to not stay away from Brazil for long. In fact, the promotion will head back to Rio de Janeiro in January, according to an announcement White made on Friday.
News of the UFC’s return was first revealed by referee Mario Yamasaki, who confirmed to Sherdog.com that Zuffa LLC representatives have asked him to be part of the show. White made the plans official in an interview with UOL, Brazil’s largest news website.
“Yes, the UFC will head back to Brazil by January, and we’re already working on the next UFC Rio,” White said. “[UFC CEO] Lorenzo [Fertitta] has been traveling around Brazil over the last few weeks to discuss this kind of question. We’re running against time to set the lineup and final details.”
Yamasaki admits he was caught off guard.
“The UFC called me to be the referee,” he said. “They sent me an e-mail asking if I would be available on Jan. 14. I didn’t know it wasn’t official, so I tweeted it. Then, all the Brazilian media jumped on it, and I immediately sent an e-mail asking for apologies. But, for sure, the UFC will be in Rio on Jan. 14. I also believe there will be other shows in Sao Paulo and Manaus.”
The UFC returned to Brazil in August after a 13-year absence, but preparations for that event were being made in December 2010. This time, matchmaker Joe Silva will have only two months to pair the fights. White does not seem concerned.
“I can’t give any further information about the deals for another UFC Rio show,” he said. “I can’t tell anything further, but I can assure that we signed everything in a record time.”
Yamasaki believes the UFC can give Rio de Janeiro’s fans another high-level lineup like UFC 134, which featured UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva, onetime Pride Fighting Championships heavyweight titleholder Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and former UFC light heavyweight champion Mauricio “Shogun” Rua. The referee told Sherdog.com the next show will not take place at the 16,000-seat HSBC Arena.
“The UFC has a plenty of possibilities to match up great fighters,” Yamasaki said. “They don’t need more than two days to define a lineup, and they will give the fans great fights again. Rio de Janeiro’s second show will take place somewhere other than HSBC Arena; maybe it will happen in a soccer stadium. The UFC website received 400,000 requests from people interested in tickets.”
Colin Foster contributed to this report.