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UFC looks to break record Toronto attendance in Brazil

Brazil's Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) fighter Anderson Silva celebrates after defeating Japan's Yushin Okami during the UFC Rio, a professional mixed martial arts (MMA) competition in Rio de Janeiro August 27, 2011. REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes

Ricardo Moraes/Reuters

The UFC looks to break its Toronto attendance record of 55,000-plus when it hosts UFC 147 at Joao Havelange Stadium in Rio de Janeiro on June 23.

The UFC 147 main event is a rematch between middleweight champion Anderson Silva and trash-talking American Chael Sonnen. It was also feature a middleweight bout between "Ultimate Fighter Brazil" coaches Vitor (The Phenom) Belfort and Wanderlei (The Axe Murderer) Silva.

In announcing a trio of Canadian shows, UFC president Dana White told a news conference in Calgary last week that he expected the Brazilian show, the UFC's first at an outdoor sports stadium, will attract a crowd of 80,000-plus.

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UFC 129 drew 55,724 on April 30, 2011, at Toronto's Rogers Centre. Welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre of Montreal defeated American Jake Shields in the main event.

But the Brazil stadium is larger and features Silva, seen as MMA's best pound-for-pound fighter. The UFC 147 main event is also seen as a grudge match with Sonnen playing the villain going into hostile territory.

"This will be the biggest sporting event of the year," White said in a release Monday. "Bigger than the NFL, the NBA, you name it — UFC 147 will be the biggest. The whole world wants to see this fight between Silva and Sonnen.

"We are broadcast in over 150 countries in 22 languages in half a billion homes. Wherever those fans are, they are going to be watching this fight."

The UFC had been looking at both Rio and Sao Paulo for UFC 147.

The Joao Havelange stadium is home to the Botafogo soccer club and is slated for use during the 2016 Olympics.

Silva (29-4-0) and Sonnen (28-11-1) first met in August 2010 at UFC 117 in Oakland. Sonnen dominated the bout for more than four rounds before falling victim to a triangle choke.

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Belfort (21-9-0) and Wanderlei Silva (34-11-1) first met in 1998 in Sao Paulo when Belfort knocked Silva out after just 44 seconds.

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