Governor Omar Aziz and Zuffa CEO Lorenzo Fertitta will bring the UFC to Manaus. | Photo: Sherdog.com
With the UFC's return to Brazil rapidly approaching with Saturday's UFC 134, the promotion has already set its sights on its next trip to the birthplace of vale tudo.
The promotion is targeting Manaus -- the Amazonas state capital -- for a show in 2012. Zuffa CEO Lorenzo Fertitta announced the news on Tuesday following a meeting with state Governor Omar Aziz, Frank Fertitta III and the United States' Brazilian ambassador, Clifford Sobel.
The show is expected to go down in at the Convention Center of Manaus -- the city's sambadrome -- which has the capacity to hold 100,000 spectators.
“The opportunity to bring the UFC to Manaus and to the home of some of our great fighters makes us so excited,” Fertitta stated at the press conference. “Our expectation is that Manaus will set a new attendance record, with 100,000 people watching the show.”
Manaus is Brazil's seventh largest city, with a population of just over 1.8 million. However, it is one of the most important cities for MMA, serving as the fight capital of Brazil's fertile northeast.
If the venue indeed sells out, the event will shatter the UFC's live attendance record, set at UFC 129 in April, when over 55,000 people watched Georges St-Pierre defeats Jake Shields at the Rogers Centre in Toronto.
Zuffa's chairman also admitted to underestimated the fan following in Rio de Janeiro when the promotion booked the HSBC Arena for UFC 134, as the venue will fit only 16,000 people for Saturday's show.
Additionally, Fertitta revealed that one of the expectations is to expose the city of Manaus and the state Amazonas to the entire world in the same way the UFC promoted Abu Dhabi during its visit to the United Arab Emirates in 2010, an idea which Aziz says is an exciting one.
“Imagine all those people from all around the world getting to know Manaus and Amazonas,” said Aziz. “This will build a huge legacy for our city. Jose Aldo and Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza are two great fighters from here, and [the event] will bring more [fan] interest for us. Not long ago, Amazonas was the second-largest jiu-jitsu hotspot in Brazil. We hope to develop partnerships with businessmen and media vehicles to make the show a success.”