Wednesday, June 22, 2011 | 4:36 p.m.
During the company’s only non-fight week in a month-long span, UFC officials traveled to Brazil last Thursday for a press conference to promote its upcoming UFC 134 card.
The UFC’s work to publicize the event, which is slated for Aug. 27 at Rio de Janeiro’s HBSC Arena, apparently paid off as it sold out 74 minutes after tickets went on sale last weekend.
“This is a great market for us,” UFC President Dana White said at the press conference. “We should have been here a long time ago.”
It’s the first time the organization has visited Brazil since 1998, which was three years before White partnered with Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta to purchase the UFC.
As it usually does when visiting other countries, the UFC filled up the card with native fighters. Nine out of 10 scheduled bouts on the card feature Brazilians, including all three headlining contests.
Middleweight champion Anderson Silva, former light heavyweight champion Mauricio “Shogun” Rua and former interim heavyweight champion Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira will all fight at the event.
“My opinion and I think my colleagues here is this is like the Brazilian soccer team against the world here,” Silva said through a translator at the press conference. “I’m excited to be in Brazil. It’s more motivation to be here. I’m going to give it my all. I’m going to give it my best for my country.”
Silva (28-4 MMA, 13-0 UFC) faces the last man to beat him at UFC 134 in Yushin Okami (26-5 MMA, 10-2 UFC). Okami scored a controversial victory five years ago in a Rumble on the Rock event in Hawaii when Silva was disqualified for an illegal upkick.
“Just to correct you,” Silva said at the press conference, “I did not lose.”
Rua (19-5 MMA, 3-3 UFC) also has a chance at revenge in his home country when he challenges Forrest Griffin (18-6 MMA, 9-4 UFC).
Griffin upset Shogun via third round submission at UFC 76 in 2007 as a 3-to-1 underdog.
“He’s changed a lot since that fight,” Griffin said. “That was his first fight in the UFC. Now, this is my first fight in Rio, so the advantages I had in the first one he has in the second one.”
Nogueira, Silva’s teammate, serves as another main attraction at UFC 134. The 35-year-old Nogueira (32-6-1 MMA, 3-2 UFC) faces Brendan Schaub (8-1 MMA, 4-1 UFC), who has won four straight.
“We’ve always been motivated by the Brazilian public that roots for us,” Nogueira said of himself and fellow Brazilian fighters through a translator. “Here, we are going to be fighting at home with the entire crowd cheering for us. I think it’s going to be a bit of extra strength to us.”
The other seven fights expected for UFC 134 are listed below.
Lightweight Bout: Ross Pearson (12-4 MMA, 4-1 UFC) vs. Edson Barboza (8-0 MMA, 2-0 UFC) The up-and-coming Barboza continues toward his goal of becoming the next Brazilian champion against “The Ultimate Fighter” season 9 champion.
Light Heavyweight Bout: Luiz Cane (11-3 MMA, 4-3 UFC) vs. Stanislav Nedkov (11-0 MMA, 0-0 UFC) Cane was last seen dispatching Eliot Marshall in quick fashion at UFC 128.
Lightweight Bout: Thiago Tavares (15-4-1 MMA, 5-4-1 UFC) vs. Spencer Fisher (24-7 MMA, 9-6 UFC) These two veterans are desperate for a win as their combined record in their last eight fights is 3-4-1.
Welterweight Bout: Paulo Thiago (13-3 MMA, 3-3 UFC) vs. David Mitchell (11-1 MMA, 0-1 UFC) Appropriately for the location, both fighters are known for their Brazilian jiu-jitsu.
Welterweight Bout: Mike Swick (14-4 MMA, 9-3 UFC) vs. Erick Silva (12-1 MMA, 0-0 UFC) Swick, who was one victory away from a title shot in 2009, returns after missing a year-and-a-half with a stomach ailment.
Bantamweight Bout: Yves Jabouin (15-7 MMA, 0-1 UFC) vs. Ian Loveland (14-8 MMA, 1-1 UFC) Both come from marquee camps as Jabouin trains alongside Georges St. Pierre at Tristar Gym and Loveland spends his time at Team Quest with the likes of Dan Henderson.
Featherweight Bout: Yuri Alcantra (24-3 MMA, 0-0 UFC) vs. Antonio Carvalho (13-4 MMA, 0-0 UFC) Although not officially announced, Sherdog.com reports the two 145-pounders will make their UFC debut in Rio.