Esther Lin, MMA Fighting
If things would have gone right in the past, this one would have already been crossed off the UFC's to-do list, but a major, outdoor stadium show in Brazil is still a goal for the promotion, with plans to stage an event currently in the planning phases.
At a Thursday press conference in Rio, UFC's managing director of international development Marshall Zelaznik confirmed that the hope was to make it happen sometime in the second half of 2013.
As of now, there has been no decision made on where exactly the event would be held.
With UFC 153 set for Rio on Saturday, it will mark the UFC's fourth trip to the MMA-mad South American nation since the start of 2011. Three of those times, the octagon has been set down in Rio, while the other time, it was moved to Belo Horizonte.
In that instance, the event, UFC 147, was originally expected to take place in a Rio soccer stadium and host the hotly anticipated Anderson Silva vs. Chael Sonnen rematch. However, a United Nations conference taking place at the same time made logistical planning for the event a nightmare, and the fight was eventually moved to the U.S., while the event was moved to the smaller venue in Belo Horizonte.
While that setback was a disappointment, interest in hosting a stadium show remains very high throughout the country, according to Zelaznik.
"Every one of the cities in Brazil are trying to get a hold of us to have meeting to bring the event, and we’re confident that if we held an event in any stadium in Brazil, it would be a massive success," he said.
Zelaznik also noted that the Brazilian market has been so strong for the promotion that it is expected to be the No. 2 market worldwide behind the U.S. within a few years. The massive financial boost of a successful stadium show could serve to expedite that timeline.
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