I must say I wish that what Ed Soares said was a true statement but it is simply bulls*it and he knows it.
Tell you more. Little more than a year ago, nobody (sure not literally, but maybe 90%) in Brazil would not even know Anderson Silva and for sure nobody would care if he was winning or losing.
MMA in Brazil is widely shadowed by Soccer, like other sports are as well, but with an extra downside: Prejudice. MMA events were forbidden in some cities for a long time, including Rio thanks to lots of factors and actions of some so called "pit boys"(amateur fighters gang members - trouble makers) who use to terrorize "civilians" and fight during MMA events, not in the cage, though.
Only now, after UFC coming back to Brazil and some transmissions via open TV ppl are getting more acquainted to the sport due to heavy promotion.
Even now, to compare Anderson's popularity in Brazil to Lebron or Kobe in America is ridiculous, because Ed is trying to sell to the world Brazilians would care about MMA the same proportion Amercans would care about Basketball, what is a utter lie, to say the least.