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By: Jamie Penick, MMATorch Editor-in-Chief
The UFC Middleweight Championship rematch between Anderson Silva and Chael Sonnen still does not have a set date, as UFC President Dana White revealed this weekend that there are some timing issues with the planned trip to Rio de Janeiro.
The original plan was to have the event in Sao Paulo on June 16, but when that city was no longer a realistic possibility, the organization moved the card to June 23 at Rio's Engenhao Stadium. Now, however, a United Nations conference, "Rio +20," scheduled for the three days leading up to the planned date, is causing some problems with their plans, and may cause the UFC to move the event from that weekend.
"A week forward, a week back – somewhere around there," White said after the UFC on Fuel 2 event (transcribed by MMAJunkie.com). "That's what we're trying to do."
"This thing all depends on what happens with the mayor down there. The mayor is getting pressure to not hold the event at that time. Even if we can pull it off at the same time, there's a big problem with hotel rooms."
Those are certainly not minor issues. With a planned attendance of between 60K-80K will have a lot of fans traveling in, and the hotel issue is a very big concern. Then add the fact that it's a combat sports event the weekend of a conference focusing on peace and the political pressure is understandable.
However, the event will take place in Rio, whether it needs to be moved a week forward or backward, as they're simply not entirely ready to branch out in the country.
"It has to be in Rio," White said. "We tried to do Sao Paulo. That didn't work out. I don't think we're equipped to move to any other city because we haven't planned or prepared for it."
"We want to go all over that country, too – Manaus and all these other places – but we're not ready for that yet."
Penick's Analysis: If they're going to move it, a week forward to the originally planned date might be the best idea for them. If it get's moved back a week to June 30, that means they'll have pay-per-view events on consecutive weekends; I don't see them wanting to ask fans to pay for two pay-per-view cards in a seven day period; it would hurt the buyrate of both this event and UFC 148 in Las Vegas. It's also more of a logistical issue for them. Because of that I think it's more likely that the event stays put and they hope for the best with hotels, or they move it up to the originally planned June 16 date.
UPDATE: @FrontRowBrian reports on Twitter that there is some consideration made to moving the fight to the July 7 event in Las Vegas. That would take it out of a stadium, and if they keep an event in Rio it would move to an arena. That may be a last-gasp fall-back plan, but it's another interesting note to consider.
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Jamie Penick, editor-in-chief
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