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UFC exec David Shaw explains why UFC 283 kicks off ‘one of the most important years we’ve ever had’ in Brazil

Deiveson Figueiredo vs. Brandon Moreno headlines UFC 283
Photo via Wander Roberto, UFC

RIO DE JANEIRO — Nearly three years after its most recent trip to the country for a pay-per-view show, the UFC finally returns to Brazil on Jan. 21 for UFC 283 in Rio de Janeiro, and the company has their hopes high with so many changes on the horizon.

The UFC’s 20-year partnership with Brazilian media giant Globo ended at the end of 2022, with Band TV stepping in as the new broadcast partner to air 12 live events per year on its free-to-air channel, as well as help promote the launch of UFC Fight Pass in the country.

The UFC is “right on track to get it back with a meaningful schedule” in Brazil, UFC executive David Shaw told MMA Fighting, revealing that the promotion has three cards planned for the country in 2023, with dates and locations yet to be announced.

“It was a huge priority for us to get back on free-to-air,” Shaw said. “We understand how rich, how deep, how fervent, how dedicated the fan base is in Brazil. From Manaus to Belem, down to Porto Alegre and Curitiba, we know we’ve got fans everywhere. So for us to be on a free-to-air [channel] and have our sport, our live events be accessible by every person across this country, it was hugely important.

“Secondly, we understand the realities of launching a streaming service. We want to make sure that we’ve got a marketing platform, a promotional platform that can speak every month, every week, every day about UFC and help promote the destination for the official home for all of the live and library UFC content that exists in Brazil.”

Shaw said Globo and UFC had “a really productive, profitable, very harmonious and really beneficial relationship” and expect to continue being partners “for many years to come.” But, he said, Band TV “stepped up and really wanted to partner with us on this venture.”

“It makes a lot of sense given their investment in F1 and other sports and how proficient they’ve become at promoting live sports in this country,” Shaw said of Band TV. “It’s a hugely encouraging thing for us. We’re really looking forward to Jan. 21. This is going to be one of the most important years we’ve ever had in this country, and we’re excited to take the sport to the next level for all the fans here.”

UFC 283 marks the company’s 37th event in Brazil since 2011 and Shaw sees the card as being as important as the UFC’s debut show in Rio de Janeiro, 2011’s UFC 134. That event aired live on free-to-air RedeTV, a much smaller network when compared to Globo and even Band TV, yet it was a gigantic success. UFC 134 featured local stars like Anderson Silva, Mauricio Rua, and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira in action, but the promotion expects similar impact with Brazilians Glover Teixeira and Deiveson Figueiredo both appearing at UFC 283.

Brazil doesn’t have as many UFC champions as it had in 2011, however 33 of the nearly 100 Brazilians currently under contract are ranked in the top 15 of their respective weight classes, with Amanda Nunes and Figueiredo sitting atop their respective divisions.

“We can’t name a country around the world that’s got mixed martial arts as ingrained into the culture,” Shaw said. “As you know, we talked about it being such a part of the social fabric in this country. It’s important for us to be everywhere at certain points, right? If we’re in bars, if we’re on hotels, if the fight is on satellite TV, on cable — we want to be everywhere. That’s hugely important part of this business plan and the launch of UFC Fight Pass Brazil, because people need to know where to go. People need to know where to find UFC.

“The UFC Fight Pass Brazil product is going to be the single most important content decision that we’ve made in Brazil, because now we house everything. You pay for Fight Pass, you get everything.”

UFC Fight Pass Brazil is set to air every single UFC event for R$ 24,90 a month (approx. $4.60), as well as LFA, Shooto Brazil, Cage Warriors, Polaris, and more. On top of that, fans get a 50 percent discount signing up for the entire year if they do it on the first two weeks of 2023.

Asked how many subscribers the UFC expect to draw to UFC Fight Pass Brazil ahead of UFC 283, Shaw joked they’re aiming at “a good chunk” of the 220 million people who currently live in Brazil.

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