Silva, Belfort Boost MMA’s Brazilian Profile

by Guilherme Pinheiro

Whether for Anderson Silva’s artistic style of fighting or Vitor Belfort’s incomparable fame in his native country, Saturday night was a truly special evening for Brazilian MMA.

In the weeks leading up to UFC 126 in Las Vegas, Silva and Belfort’s middleweight title bout garnered more coverage from the Brazilian media than any MMA fight before it. Last Friday and Saturday, the matchup graced the front pages of every major Brazilian web portal.

One of the most popular Portuguese-language MMA websites and forums, Portal do Vale-Tudo, was inaccessible for most of Saturday due to a traffic overload. On Sunday, Brazilian MMA outlet Tatame’s YouTube channel was the video sharing site’s most-watched channel in Brazil, ranking 57th in the world during the same time.

Although Brazilians continue make up a massive chunk of MMA’s top fighters, the fact remains that, outside of the fight-hungry sports community in Rio de Janeiro, MMA does not have a considerable mainstream presence in the country. However, Silva has gained a greater cultural presence of late, a fact reflected in his signing with soccer legend Ronaldo’s new sports marketing firm, 9ine. In fact, Silva’s newly-inked deal with the three-time FIFA Player of the Year helped boost the amount of prefight attention UFC 126 received in Brazil.

Belfort, meanwhile, remains Brazil’s best-known mixed martial artist thanks to his fighting exploits, his high-profile stint on the reality TV program “Casa dos Artistas,” and his marriage to former model Joanna Prado.

 

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