Could the legendary Royce Gracie be returning to the Octagon? (Photo courtesy of RoyceGracie.tv)
Show in Rio de Janeiro will Mark the First Trip to Brazil in 12 Years
The Ultimate Fighting Championships (UFC) made a huge announcement this week when it proclaimed its intentions to return to Brazil for the first time since 1998. Owners Frank Fertitta, III, Lorenzo J. Fertitta and Dana White made it official on Wednesday, stating that the UFC will head into the HSBC Arena in Rio de Janiero on Saturday, August 27th, 2011.
“We couldn’t wait to host our first-ever UFC event in Brazil’s biggest city,” White remarked. “Brazilians have given so much to the growth of this sport. I’m excited that we can give back to the country that has given us so many great fighters. From Royce Gracie and Vitor Belfort to ‘Shogun’ Rua, Anderson Silva and Jose Aldo, these fighters are all champions and are so proud of their roots. It’s time for us to bring a live UFC event here and show the people of Brazil how much this sport has grown.”
The country of Brazil has played a massive role in the birth of both Mixed Martial Arts and the UFC. The first-ever UFC event was held in Denver back in 1993, with Royce Gracie and his legendary Brazilian family creating an eight-man tournament to prove that their self-created Jiu-Jitsu style of fighting was the most dominating discipline in combat sports. Competitors from nearly every established style of fighting were selected to participate, and Gracie emerged victorious after winning three non-timed matches in one night. As the event and sport evolved over the years, fighters began to learn multiple disciplines, hence creating the term Mixed Martial Arts.
“This is another giant step forward in our global expansion and in growing UFC into the biggest sport in the world,” Lorenzo Fertitta said. “By bringing world-class fights back to Brazil, we not only secure a foothold in a major international market, but we also give back to the people who have supported UFC for nearly 20 years.”
On hand for the announcement was 44-year-old Royce Gracie, who hinted at a possible return to the Octagon.
"This return of UFC to Brazil touched me, made me feel the wish of coming back to the Octagon,” he stated. “Everything has being negotiated with Dana White. Let's wait.”
In addition to the UFC, Rio de Janiero will be a stop for some of the biggest sporting events in the world over the next few years, with the city already being selected as the host for the 2014 FIFA World Cup and 2016 Summer Olympics.