With middleweight champion Anderson Silva headlining, and a quality supporting cast full of Brazilians, UFC Rio may be one of the best fight cards of 2011.
The first "modern" UFC event to be held in Brazil, UFC 134: Rio, is scheduled to go down August 27th. Brazilian fighters contracted with the UFC are buzzing to get on the card, and two major Brazilian fighters are now officially scheduled to take part in the event. Anderson Silva won't be waiting around for a Georges St. Pierre superfight, and will defend his middleweight title against long time contender, Yushin Okami. Okami is a great challenge for Silva, and is one of the few fights left for him at middleweight that will contribute greatly to his legacy. He's is a big, powerful wrestler with solid boxing, and presents a unique challenge to the champion. Silva is at an all time high in popularity in Brazil, after crushing Vitor Belfort in a title bout that had the country buzzing. The Okami fight is a compelling match up that is more than welcome, as the days of Silva facing the likes of Patrick Cote and Thales Leites are long behind us.
This morning, MMA Fighting confirmed that the rematch between Forrest Griffin and Mauricio "Shogun" Rua is also on tap for the Rio card. Griffin shocked the world when he faced off against Shogun, who was making his UFC debut. He handled the former Pride champion with ease, and ended the fight with a rear naked choke. Many have written off the victory, chalking it up to Rua being injured. Now, Griffin gets the chance to prove once again that he's one of the best light heavyweight fighters on the planet. Shogun is looking to rebound off his crushing defeat at the hands of Jon Jones, and avenge one of the greatest losses of his career.
Overall, this event looks to potentially become and instant classic. Not only is this the UFC's first trip into Brazil since 1998, the card has a solid main and co-main event, and the rest of the card will likely be filled with some major Brazilian MMA names. Rumors are swirling that UFC legend Royce Gracie may make a comeback for the event. The Noguiera brothers are interested in participating, and
I'd love to see a rematch between Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and Mirko Filipovic. Also, Takanori Gomi is rumored to face Edson Barboza in what would surely be an epic firefight of a match. I'm eager to see how the card fills out, as this looks as though it could be one of the great MMA events of 2011.