Las Vegas, NV (USA) - The Ultimate Fighting Championship returns to the birthplace of mixed martial arts, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Saturday, Aug. 27, as one of the country’s most recognizable superstars defends his title against the division’s nearly unstoppable number one contender. Live from the HSBC Arena in Rio de Janeiro, Curitiba’s Anderson “The Spider” Silva puts the middleweight title on the line when he meets Japanese star Yushin Okami, the only man to hold a victory over Silva in the last five years.
“Anderson Silva is the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world,” said UFC President Dana White. “He has won 14 straight and hasn’t lost since January 2006, when he lost a controversial fight against none other than Yushin Okami. Okami is the number two middleweight in the world and a powerhouse in that division. He is the winningest Japanese fighter in UFC history and also the only guy to have beaten the greatest fighter in the world in the last seven years. He wants to do it again, but this time, in Anderson’s home country and win the UFC middleweight title. If he does, he will be the first ever Japanese champion.”
An explosive co-main event features the rematch between former light heavyweight champions Mauricio “Shogun” Rua and Forrest Griffin, while unbeaten Brazilian lightweight Edson Barboza looks for his ninth professional victory when he battles British bomber Ross Pearson. UFC’s first event in Brazil since 1998 will also feature a pivotal heavyweight collision pitting former champion and Brazilian legend Antonio “Minotauro” Nogueira against the surging Brendan Schaub. In addition, Sao Paulo’s Luiz Cane collides with unbeaten Bulgarian Stanislav Nedkov in a surefire slugfest.
Ranked as the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world and one of the greatest of all time, Anderson Silva (fighting out of Curitiba, Brazil) has won 14 straight fights and has defended the middleweight crown a record eight times. On Aug. 27, “The Spider” gets a chance to avenge a controversial disqualification loss he suffered to Yushin Okami in 2006. Owning wins over the likes of Rich Franklin, Nate Marquardt, Dan Henderson and Vitor Belfort, the 36-year-old is looking forward to adding Okami’s name to his legendary resume.
“This is a great opportunity for me to fight in Brazil, close to my home and my family,” Silva, who boasts a 28-4 record, said. “It’s a great opportunity for Yushin and the fans in Japan after all they have been through this year. To see one of their top fighters fighting for the title makes this a special event.”
A winner of six out of his last seven fights, Japanese middleweight star Yushin Okami (fighting out of Kanagawa, Japan) has emerged as the division’s top contender thanks to his tremendous strength and overwhelming power. With wins over Jason MacDonald, Nate Marquardt and Mark Munoz, the six-foot-two powerhouse has set out to become the first Japanese champion in the history of the UFC.
“I understand Anderson has a lot of emotion (fighting in Brazil),” Okami, who has compiled a record of 27-5, said. “This time it will be in his home country, so I will see him fully focused, at his most dangerous, and in the best shape ever when I step in to the Octagon.”
“But no matter what, I have to try to smash him with all of my speed, strength and skills,” Okami continued. “The last time we fought, I felt the pressure of his striking, so I have been sharpening up my striking skills, and though he is the best opponent I have faced, he is the man I have to beat to become the UFC middleweight champion.”
Silva isn’t the only superstar looking to avenge a loss on Aug. 27. Former light heavyweight champion Mauricio “Shogun” Rua (fighting out of Curitiba, Brazil) returns to the Octagon in Rio de Janeiro to battle Forrest Griffin (fighting out of Las Vegas, Nev.), a former 205-pound champion who defeated him in 2007. Known for his fierce Muay Thai skills and devastating power, the 29-year-old Rua (19-5) holds wins over Hall of Famers Mark Coleman and Chuck Liddell, and was the first man to ever knock out Lyoto Machida. He’ll need to be on point to upend Griffin, who won the first season of “The Ultimate Fighter” and is best known for wins over Stephan Bonnar, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, Tito Ortiz and Rich Franklin.
The stock of lightweight striker Edson Barboza (fighting out of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) is soaring thanks to two impressive wins in the UFC. Unbeaten at 8-0, the 25-year-old returns to his hometown this summer to meet “The Ultimate Fighter” season nine winner Ross Pearson (fighting out of Sunderland, England). Boasting wins in four out of his last five fights, the 26-year-old Pearson plans to spoil Barboza’s homecoming in August and prove that he truly is “The Real Deal.”
Mixed martial arts legend Antonio “Minotauro” Nogueira (fighting out of Bahia, Brazil) returns to his native Brazil with hopes of displaying the tenacity that helped him win both UFC and PRIDE titles in his illustrious career. The 35-year-old nicknamed “Big Nog” starts that quest back to the championship when he meets red-hot heavyweight prospect Brendan Schaub (fighting out of Denver, Colo.). A 28-year-old former NFL player, Schaub (9-1) has won four straight fights in the Octagon. The toughest test of his young career awaits the heavy-handed fighter nicknamed “The Hybrid” at HSBC Arena when he meets Nogueira (32-6-1, 1NC) in hostile territory.
Knockout artist Luiz Cane (fighting out of Sao Paulo, Brazil) finished Eliot Marshall in his last fight in March and expects nothing less when he battles unbeaten Stanislav Nedkov (fighting out of Veliko Turnovo, Bulgaria) in light heavyweight action. Thus, it should come as no surprise that the bout between Cane (12-3-1) and Nedkov (11-0) is an early sleeper for Fight of the Night.