The UFC is ready for the first international season of its longstanding reality show The Ultimate Fighter, and on Tuesday UFC President Dana White announced that Vitor Belfort and Wanderlei Silva will be the coaches of The Ultimate Fighter Brazil, which will make its debut this spring.
"This show in the United States is huge -- it's one of the longest-running reality shows," White said at a press conference in Rio de Janeiro. "It's incredibly popular, it's been huge for us there. We think it's going to be 1,000 times bigger in Brazil. The amount of talent that's in this country right now? There's an undiscovered Anderson Silva, Jose Aldo, Vitor Belfort or Wanderlei Silva."
Belfort and Silva are both very popular fighters among Brazilian MMA fans (and Belfort is also known even among non-MMA fans because his wife, Joana Prado, is an actress and model), and the fight between the two coaches after the season will be a very big deal in Brazil. But that fight will be a long way off: Belfort first has to fight Anthony Johnson at UFC 142 in January, and the Belfort-Silva fight won't take place until after the upcoming season of The Ultimate Fighter Brazil, likely early in the summer.
The UFC has a deal lined up for Brazilian television, although it is not yet known how American fans can watch the show. The Ultimate Fighter Brazil Finale will air live in both Brazil and the United States.
Belfort vs. Silva will be a rematch 14 years in the making for the two fighters -- the two of them met in the first UFC Brazil show in 1998. That night, Belfort exploded across the Octagon and drilled Silva with hard punches, needing just 44 seconds to win by TKO. But both Belfort and Silva said they don't think that fight is particularly relevant today.
"It's a great honor to fight against Wanderlei," Belfort said. "I see it as a new fight and not a rematch."
"I think the first fight was very quick, I couldn't perform as well as I wanted to," Silva said. "I think this is one of the biggest rematches in all of modern MMA and I'm very pleased to give this to my fans and to once again fight in Brazil. This is a dream."
Tryouts for The Ultimate Fighter Brazil are taking place this week, and the UFC is expected to announce the cast members in early 2012.
Vitor Belfort vs. Wanderlei Silva as Ultimate Fighter Brazil Coaches