The UFC Missed a BIG opportunity with Anderson Silva and Chael Sonnen Rematch
The Middleweight title fight between reigning champ Anderson Silva and loud mouthed charismatic challenger Chael Sonnen is arguably one of the biggest fights the UFC has ever had. Their first 5 round battle was of epic proportions which saw the heavily favoured Silva submit Sonnen in the final minutes after getting dominated for most of the fight. Two wins and a lot of smack talk later (including calling out Silva’s manhood, and insulting the entire nation of Brazil) and Sonnen is getting his long awaited rematch on July 7th in Las Vegas.
But therein lies the problem, this hotly anticipated fight in which real bad blood exists is being held at the MGM Grand, a venue that can hold less than 17, 000 people. The first choice for the fight was Rio de Janeiro Brazil at the Joao Havelange soccer stadium, a venue that would hold upwards of 50 to 60 thousand people! Now that is an event that would make some waves globally. Unfortunately for the UFC and fight fans everywhere, a UN summit is being held in Rio that same weekend, forcing the UFC to find a new venue. While there were other stadiums that could have made this event news worthy and still a grand spectacle, the UFC decided to hold the fight in Vegas where almost half of their events take place each year. The UFC is missing a big opportunity to make a splash with a fight the size of which rarely comes along, so I thought I’d take a look at some other venues befitting of this grand event:
-Dallas Cowboys Stadium (Arlington, Texas)
I think this would be the perfect venue for a fight of this magnitude. The Pacquiao Margarito boxing match was held there in 2010 to resounding success and Dana White is even on record as saying it is a great venue for combat sports with its ludicrously giant screen so even people in the cheap seats can get a good view. Having the fight in Cowboys Stadium would immediately draw media attention from all the major outlets, to the extent of which they won’t get by holding it in Vegas. Not to mention that Texas has shown in the past that it’s a solid MMA market where the UFC has held multiple events. There are no teams playing at Cowboys Stadium in July so it could conceivably work.
-Rogers Centre (Toronto, Ontario)
You can’t go wrong with Toronto, the noted mecca of MMA. Dana said they wouldn’t do another Rogers Centre show until they had the right card and this wouldn’t certainly fit the bill. The first show sold out easily and even if it’s not quite as fast there’s no reason to think this show wouldn’t sell out either. It doesn’t command the prestige of a Cowboys Stadium show but getting more than 55,000 into the building would bring some much wanted attention to the event. The first Rogers Centre show (UFC 129) was such a success that the UFC could only make improvements this time around. The only problem is that the Blue Jays have a home game on July 5th, they’re not home again until July 13th but having only 2 days to set up the event might be a monumental task.
-Metlife Stadium: Home of the New York Jets & New York Giants (East Rutherford, New Jersey)
If the UFC could pull off an event at Metlife Stadium they would undoubtedly get the attention they desire for this event, it would be an incredible feat as the seating capacity is just over 82, 000. They would set a new attendance record that likely wouldn’t be matched anytime soon, and New Jersey is a big MMA market where the UFC has held big fights in the past (such as the GSP v. Hardy title fight in 2010). Interestingly, the most intriguing benefit to having a fight this size in New Jersey is that there is a war over the legalization of MMA in New York, and what better way to stick it to New York then by showing them right in their backyard all of the revenue they’re missing out on by not legalizing MMA. There are no teams that play at Metlife Stadium in July so this is a venue that would work on the surface.
Here is Chael’s thoughts on Anderson after beating Brian Stann, his first of 2 wins that would lead him back to his rematch: