Jeff Chiu / AP
Tuesday, April 24, 2012 | 8:30 a.m.
The most anticipated rematch of 2012 is coming to Las Vegas.
A middleweight championship bout between Anderson Silva (31-4 MMA, 14-0 UFC) and Chael Sonnen (28-10-1 MMA, 7-3 UFC) will serve as the main event of UFC 148 July 7 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. The UFC announced the change Tuesday morning, as Silva vs. Sonnen II was originally slated for UFC 147 June 23 in Rio de Janeiro.
“Everything that could go wrong went wrong,” UFC President Dana White, speaking at a press conference in Rio de Janeiro on Tuesday, said of trying to stage the fight in Brazil. “We couldn’t pull it off fast enough.”
The UFC had long targeted a Brazilian soccer stadium for the fight. The promotion first hoped to hold Silva vs. Sonnen II in Sao Paulo, before recently announcing it would take place in Rio at Joao Havelange Stadium.
But a scheduled United Nations conference on sustainable development in Rio the same week put a halt in those plans. Brazilian tourism officials didn’t want both events to take place simultaneously, and there weren’t enough hotel rooms to accommodate the demand.
“Regardless of where this fight is, I’ll be representing Brazil," Silva said.
A scaled-down version of UFC 147 will still commence, with the venue switched to an arena. “The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil” coaches Vitor Belfort (21-9 MMA, 10-5 UFC) and Wanderlei Silva (34-11-1 MMA, 4-6 UFC) will stay on the card, and UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo may headline.
UFC 148 transforms from a decent pay-per-view card held the weekend of a fan expo to the biggest event of the year. Two title fights are expected, as a bantamweight trilogy meeting between Dominick Cruz (19-1 MMA, 2-0 UFC) and Urijah Faber (26-5 MMA, 2-1 UFC) likely shifts to the co-main event.
Several other bouts were previously revealed for UFC 148, including a retirement fight for Tito Ortiz. Forrest Griffin (18-7 MMA, 9-5 UFC) faces Ortiz (16-10-1 MMA, 15-10-1 UFC) for the third time after the two fighters split two previous meetings.
“We will be the biggest sporting event in the history of combat,” Sonnen said. “My plan was to come here, take your money and beat him right here (in Brazil). I’m going to have to wait and stomp him July 7 and that’s exactly what I’m going to do.”