During the pre-UFC 149 press conference in Canada, Dana White admitted that the UFC’s negotiations unraveled in trying to take the show to a stadium in São Paulo for the grand finale of the Brazilian version of the TUF reality show, with the Anderson Silva-Chael Sonnen matchup as the evening’s main event. The UFC president announced yesterday and again today that the next show to be held in Brazil, in late June, will in fact be in the land of Jiu-Jitsu’s pioneers, Rio de Janeiro, at a soccer stadium with an 80,000-spectator capacity.
The said venue is João Havelange Stadium, popularly known as the Engenhão, with seating in the stands for 45,000 people and a few dozens of thousands on the pitch, as is the setup for concerts.
UFC AT MARACANÃZINHO?
Besides the Engenhão-stadium deal, the producers of the UFC’s Rio shows spoke with city officials about holding an event at the Maracanãzinho gymnasium, according to GRACIEMAG.com sources. It is suspected that the talks were for an event closer to the end of the year. The multi-sport arena alongside Maracanã Stadium, which is undergoing restoration work until 2013 (at least), has a 12,000 seating capacity with another thousand or so on the court.
To host UFC 147, with the rematches between Silva and Sonnen and TUF Brazil coaches Vitor Belfort and Wanderlei Silva, the Engenhão will be decked with a canopy to cover the octagon. The date for the event is set between the 16th and 23rd of June, according to Dana White. Now TUF, the first season of the UFC reality show in Brazil, will premiere this March 25, following popular Sunday show Fantástico.
Now the smaller-scale Maracanãzinho is a major part of vale-tudo history. It was there that Carlson Gracie beat Valdemar Santana in 1956. In 1983, Rickson submitted Rei Zulu there, in the second encounter between the two. In 1984, Jiu-Jitsu and luta livre locked horns at the notorious “Noite das Artes Marciais” event, where Eugênio Tadeu took on Renan Pitanguiy, Marco Ruas faced Fernando Pinduka and Marcelo Behring squared off Flávio Molina. More recently, in 2009, the Bitetti Combat promotion held an event there marking the return of Pedro Rizzo and Ricardo Arona among others.
Relive the rivalry between Carlson and Valdemar, in the video below: