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UFC locks in date, venue for rematch between Anderson Silva and Chael Sonnen

UFC 147 headed to Olympic soccer stadium in Rio de Janeiro

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A view of the Joao Havelange stadium, in Rio de Janeiro, Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2009. UFC 147 will take place at the venue on June 23.

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Anderson Silva, center left, and Chael Sonnen face off at a weigh-in event Friday in Oakland, Calif. Silva and Sonnen will fight for Silva's UFC middleweight title at UFC 117 on Saturday.

UFC President Dana White is already referring to UFC 147 as “the biggest sporting event of the year.”

While that proclamation may sound too bold, no one would argue against the event serving as the biggest of the year for the UFC. The rematch between the best fighter in UFC history, Anderson Silva (31-4 MMA, 14-0 UFC), and his only nemesis, Chael Sonnen (28-10-1 MMA, 7-3 UFC), finally has an official date and venue.

Silva vs. Sonnen II, a middleweight championship bout, takes place June 23 in Rio de Janeiro at Joao Havelange Stadium, site of the 2016 Olympics. As many as 80,000 fans will pack the soccer stadium, meaning UFC 147 will surpass UFC 129 as the company’s most attended card ever.

“UFC 147 will be the biggest,” White said. “The whole world wants to see this fight between Silva and Sonnen.”

Sonnen famously demolished the previously invincible Silva for 23 minutes at UFC 117 in August 2010 before succumbing to a triangle choke and tapping out with 1:50 left in the bout.

The UFC has tried to book a rematch ever since but kept running into snags. Sonnen missed more than a year of action after a suspension from the California State Athletic Commission for elevated testosterone levels and a mortgage fraud conviction.

A shoulder injury, meanwhile, has sidelined Silva since a UFC 134 victory over Yushin Okami last August.

The bout was originally targeted for Sao Paulo on June 16. When the UFC couldn’t secure a large enough stadium, Rio de Janeiro received its third event in the last year.

Sonnen has antagonized Silva for years, routinely insulting the champion and his Brazilian heritage. Some have questioned the UFC’s decision to hold the event in Brazil, expressing fear for Sonnen’s safety.

The challenger, however, said he had no concerns after a victory over Michael Bisping in January.

“If those blowhards with their blow darts want to come at me, they can send anybody they want,” Sonnen said. “But don’t send anybody you want back.”

Case Keefer can be reached at 948-2790 or case.keefer@lasvegassun.com. Follow Case on Twitter at twitter.com/casekeefer.

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