BELO HORIZONTE, Brazil – The long-awaited Vitor Belfort-Wanderlei Silva rematch didn't happen on Saturday, but the UFC still has its sights on the two meeting again.
A broken hand suffered last month by Belfort knocked him out of the UFC 147 main event against Silva, whom he had coached against in the first season of "The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil." Rich Franklin took his place and won a unanimous decision.
But the UFC is targeting its next event in Brazil – likely October in Rio de Janeiro – for Belfort and Silva to finally meet again.
Marshall Zelaznik, the UFC's managing director of international development, said at Saturday's post-fight press conference, which MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com
) attended, that the promotion still wants to move forward with the rematch.
"That's certainly something we're working towards," Zelaznik said. "No contracts have been sent or signed, but I think that's in the plans – to try and make that fight happen."
Belfort and Silva, both national heroes in Brazil, first met at "UFC Ultimate Brazil" in October 1998, which was promotion's first visit to Brazil – in the pre-Zuffa era. Belfort won that fight with a 44-second TKO. The two were scheduled to run that fight back nearly 14 years later after their coaching stints on "TUF: Brazil" when Belfort broke his hand training for the fight.
Although not officially announced by the promotion, Zelaznik this past week said the UFC is likely to return to Brazil in October for UFC 153, and sources close to the event told MMAjunkie.com an Oct. 13 date in Rio de Janeiro is being targeted.
The Belfort-Silva rematch originally was to be the co-main event in a soccer stadium show behind Anderson Silva-Chael Sonnen. But when the soccer stadium couldn't work, Silva-Sonnen was moved to UFC 148 in Las Vegas, making Belfort-Silva the headliner. It is possible it would be in the main event spot if it comes to fruition for the fall card in Rio.
UFC 147 took place at Estadio Jornalista Felipe Drumond in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. The main card aired on pay-per-view following prelims that on Facebook and FX.