Make no mistake, the biggest night in UFC history is June 23, 2012.
Heavyweights may still rule the roost when it comes to drawing money and viewers, but no other fight in history has as much potential as the championship rematch between Anderson Silva and Chael Sonnen.
The backdrop is Joao Havelange Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Normally, this isn’t out of character for the UFC, as they travel to Brazil often and many other countries to broaden their fanbase. But, what makes this fight special is the dynamic between Silva and Sonnen.
Silva is the most talented fighter in UFC history and has outclassed every single one of his opponents in the Octagon, with the exception of Sonnen. When they fought in 2010, Sonnen frustrated “The Spider” with his wrestling for four-and-a-half rounds until Silva managed to catch him in a triangle choke with less than three minutes left in the fight.
What Sonnen brings to the table, besides his insane wrestling skills, is a brash attitude that rubs many the wrong way. He has been known to get a hold of the microphone after a win and deliver what can only be described as a WWE-style promo. Consider Silva one of those who takes exception to the things that come out of Sonnen’s mouth. The normally soft-spoken Silva spoke to SporTV and had this to say:
“He disrespected our idols that made history in the world of sports, such as Lance Armstrong. This guy is complicated, he’s got personal issues.”
The location adds much intrigue to this fight as well. Brazil is the home country of Anderson Silva and Joao Havelange Stadium is a soccer stadium that holds roughly 45,000 fans for soccer matches, but the capacity will increase by thousands when the UFC comes in June.
Also, scheduled on the card is another long-awaited rematch featuring two Brazilian-born fighters. Vitor Belfort and Wanderlei Silva will battle once again after engaging in a 44-second bout in 1998, in which Belfort knocked out Wanderlei abruptly.
Two huge fights featuring three fighters from Brazil are headlining this card in Rio de Janeiro, and the soccer-style fans there are considered a very rowdy bunch. When you add the loud antagonist Sonnen and the supremely skilled Silva to the mix it makes an amazing setting for what should be an outstanding card.