UFC Appoints Belfort, ‘Axe Murderer’ as Coaches of ‘TUF: Brazil’


Vitor Belfort and Wanderlei Silva will rematch after serving as coaches on ‘TUF: Brazil.’ | Photo: Sherdog.com


Wanderlei Silva and Vitor Belfort will serve as coaches on the inaugural season of “The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil,” UFC President Dana White announced Tuesday at a press conference in Rio de Janeiro.

The first international iteration of the promotion’s reality show, “TUF: Brazil” will air on Brazilian network Globo. The show premieres on March 25 and will conclude in June with a live finale. Though the season has been rumored to be broadcast on Fuel TV in the United States, no domestic broadcast plans have been officially announced.

Also expected to debut in March is the show’s 15th American season, which will feature bantamweight rivals Dominick Cruz and Urijah Faber as coaches. The season will mark the show’s first away from Spike TV, as the program moves to Fox-owned cable channel FX with a new live format.

The UFC will hold an open tryout Wednesday in Sao Paulo for featherweight and middleweight fighters, though it is currently unknown if those weight classes are set in stone for the season.

Silva and Belfort originally squared off at UFC 17.5 in 1998. “The Phenom” made short work of Silva that night, blitzing his countryman with a barrage of punches in just 44 seconds.

After that ill-fated meeting, Silva went on to hold the Pride Fighting Championships 205-pound title for over five years before making his way back to the UFC. “The Axe Murderer” has since dropped to 185 pounds and has won two of his last three, most recently knocking out Cung Le on Nov. 19.

“I’ve been waiting for this for a long time,” Silva said at Tuesday’s press conference. “I knew one day we would face each other again, and the time is here. This is one of the biggest rematches of all MMA and I’m very happy to give this to all of my fans.”

Following his knockout of Silva, Belfort won the UFC light heavyweight title after a stint in Pride, cutting Randy Couture in just 49 seconds to capture the belt. More recently, Belfort has won six of his last seven, his lone loss in that span coming to UFC middleweight king Anderson Silva. Before taking his place as coach on “TUF: Brazil,” Belfort will first lock horns with Anthony Johnson at UFC 142 on Jan. 14.

“I’m just focusing on this fight [with Johnson],” said Belfort, “but it’s a great honor to fight Wanderlei again. I see it as a new fight and not as a rematch.”

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