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Will UFC's long awaited return to Brazil prove to be bittersweet?

Not according to Kevin Iole of Yahoo! Sports and Josh Gross of  Both men were quick to predict that UFC's return to Brazil would be a big success.  Iole, following Dana White's lead, was quick to point to Brazil's robust economy, love of MMA and UFC's many world class Brazilian fighters under contract to back up his rosy story:

The Ultimate Fighting Championship has continued to expand and set ticket and gate records despite a struggling economy in much of the world. It won't have any such problems in Brazil, where the economy is one of the most robust in the world and grew nearly 9 percent in the second quarter of 2010.

The promotion will try to take advantage of the economy and the rabid mixed martial arts following in the country when it hosts a pay-per-view card on Aug. 27 at HSBC Arena in Rio de Janeiro.

UFC president Dana White told Yahoo! Sports on Wednesday that many of the 36 Brazilian fighters on the company's roster would compete on the show. Among the Brazilians under contract to the UFC are light heavyweight champion Mauricio "Shogun" Rua, middleweight champion Anderson Silva, featherweight champion Jose Aldo and middleweight contender Vitor Belfort.

Josh Gross concurred that the Brazilian market was ripe for the picking for UFC:

There is, really, no resemblance between the UFC that hit Brazil in 1998 and the version that should have no problem attracting big business next summer in the largest city of what is soon expected to be the world's fifth-largest economy. UFC's status as a pariah sport in the U.S. is long gone, and the company -- now estimated to be worth more than $1 billion -- is well on its way to becoming a significant global sports brand.

But wait, let's not be so hasty just yet.  Both men surprisingly ignored the huge income inequality that still exists in Brazil.  With UFC's high priced ticket structure, only the very wealthiest Brazilians could afford to travel and buy tickets to such an event.  Moreover, as Gross neglected to mention and Iole failed to realise the consequences of, UFC may be shooting themselves in the foot with the timing of their event:

The UFC plans to have the card start at its normal time in the U.S., which is 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m.

To his credit, Dave Meltzer on the December 15th Wrestling Observer radio show, saw the obvious flaw in this plan.  As he explained, this means that they won't start the show until 11:00pm in Rio and the PPV itself won't end until 4:00am in the morning local time.  What a slap in the face to the Brazilian fans that they have to stay up until dawn just so that the American fans won't get the PPV spoiled when surfing the web or while watching sports on ESPN.  Good luck Dana with trying to make UFC as popular as the World Cup or the Summer Olympics in Brazil!  You'll need it, given that the heads of those sporting events aren't arrogant enough to schedule their events to occur in the middle of the night in a new market, just so that they can cater to the whims of television audiences elsewhere.

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