Vitor Belfort

Vitor Belfort

UFC 133: Evans vs. Ortiz co-main event victor Vitor Belfort is clearly an advocate of the sport of mixed martial arts. Even more so, Belfort is a proponent of the Ultimate Fighting Championship and it’s popularity within the world’s fastest growing sport.

So keen to the UFC is Belfort, he dares to predict that in less than three years, the Zuffa LLC-owned fight promotion will be bigger than soccer in his home country of Brazil.

With the UFC making it’s return to Brazil later this month with UFC: Rio on Aug. 27, Belfort advised the fans, media, and even his fellow fighters that they should prepare for an atmosphere like they’ve never seen in the sport.

According to Belfort, the UFC following in Brazil is quite the unique bunch.

“The message (I) have (for) Brazil is: Brazil, get ready,” Belfort said at the post-fight press conference. “UFC is coming. And today, UFC was like World Cup in Brazil. Everybody here in America doesn’t understand. You guys are going to see the best crowd of people. All these guys here sitting down, they’ve never been to Brazil. Brazil loves UFC. (The) second (most popular) sport in (Brazil) right now is UFC.

“Dana and Lorenzo have invested in UFC. In Brazil, we’re going to overcome soccer. Listen to this, I know it sounds crazy, but we’re going to overcome soccer in Brazil in three years. And I know that for a fact because wherever UFC goes, (it) overcomes everybody. I’m not a crazy dreamer. This is reality. UFC, get ready.”

UFC president Dana White, who is typically the most outspoken person when it comes to the promotion’s global expansion, had less to say about it this time around. The speechless fight promoter tipped his hat to Belfort for putting it better than anyone else can.

“Well said, Vitor,” he said.

While the Brazilian national soccer team tends to be the most recognized group of athletes in the country, the UFC has its fair share of world-renowned athletes coming out of the South American region. Belfort, Rua, Nogueira, Machida, and a handful of Silvas are just a few that come to mind when thinking about world-class fighters who hale from the beautiful lands and have found success in the UFC at the highest of peaks.

It’s no secret that the UFC plans on expanding on a global level similar to soccer and other popular competitive sports. For example, the promotion made its way into the Middle East for the first time just last year with UFC 112: Invincible, where Anderson Silva – another world-class Brazilian fighter – defended his middleweight championship against fellow Brazilian Demian Maia. Though the bout was more renowned for Silva’s dancing and taunting of his opponent, the event itself showed the company’s ability to reach out to unique places in the world and find success in doing so.

The trip down to Rio will seek the same success and likely find it with a great deal of the fight card’s participants being from the country where event is taking place.

Got something to say? Weigh in with a thought of your own in the comments section below.

Erik Fontanez is a staff writer for MMAWeekly.com.
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