Esther Lin, MMA Fighting
ATLANTA -- Just after leaving the Philips Arena on Saturday night following UFC 145, Dana White headed straight to his private jet with Chael Sonnen in tow. The two headed to Brazil, where they will meet up with UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva and announce the location of the long-awaited rematch.
With reports circulating that the fight would be moved from its previously announced location, Estádio Olímpico João Havelange, White confirmed the UFC was facing a scheduling issue that could cause a rearrangement of dates.
What that means is that Brazil could be losing the fight.
With a UN convention overlapping the UFC's visit to Rio, concerns about security, hotel room availability and other problems could force Silva-Sonnen to move. And if the UFC can't house the match in a soccer stadium, it is likely to come back to the U.S., White indicated, citing Las Vegas as a possible destination.
"I said it before and I'll say it again. That's not only the biggest fight in the UFC, I think it's one of the biggest sporting events of the year," he said. "That fight's going to be done the right way. We're not going to half-ass that thing and say, 'Oh let's go to that arena over here.' It's going to be a big fight."
White said the UFC had invested time, money and resources in preparing for the event, with decisions already in the works about the staging, stadium seating configuration and more.
If Silva-Sonnen II is moved, the June 23 date will still be used. An event will take place in Brazil with Vitor Belfort and Wanderlei Silva as the main event, and Sonnen-Silva will be placed elsewhere on the UFC calendar.
White clearly appeared disappointed at that possibility.
"It's always fun, isn't it?" he said sarcastically. "Always so much fun s--- going on for me."
White said that work on the resolution to the schedule was still going on, but promised that everything would be finalized before a Tuesday press conference in Brazil.
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