Rio headliner moved to Las Vegas

Updated: April 24, 2012, 2:46 PM ET
By Franklin McNeil | ESPN.com

Middleweight champion Anderson Silva will defend his title for the second time against top contender Chael Sonnen on July 7 at UFC 148 in Las Vegas, promotion president Dana White said Tuesday.

The fight was originally planned for UFC 147 on June 23 in Rio de Janeiro. But UFC has yet to secure a venue for the event, which prompted it to move the fight to the United States.

"We wanted to do the fight here (Brazil) in a soccer stadium," White said at a news conference in Rio. "First we tried Sao Paulo, then we tried to get some stuff done in Rio.

"Not only did that not work out, but we still don't have a venue for The Ultimate Fitghter (Brazil) finale. But we're still working on a venue here."

With Silva-Sonnen II now headlining UFC 148, the bantamweight title bout between champion Dominick Cruz and Urijah Faber, which was expected to top the card, has been moved to co-feature status. Cruz (19-1) and Faber (26-5) have split their previous two meetings.

White said he still intends to hold the finale for "The Ultimate Fitghter: Brazil" on June 23. Coaches Wanderlei Silva and Vitor Belfort are expected to headline the event in a middleweight bout.

Featherweight champion Jose Aldo, who is tentatively schedule to defend his title July 21 at UFC 149 in Calgary, might be moved to the June 23 card. An opponent has yet to be named for Aldo.

With the likelihood of Aldo being taken off the UFC 149 card, White hinted at headline that event with light heavyweight champion Jon Jones defending his title against top contender Dan Henderson. "We've talked about the possibility of Jose Aldo moving to this (UFC 147) card here. It's probably going to happen," White said."We're working with his camp right now.

"And Dan Henderson and Jones could be a possibility. Obviously Jones just fought. We have to give (Jones) a few weeks and see how he feels and figure out what the main event will be in Calgary."

Jones successfully defended his 205-pound belt Saturday night in Atlanta with a unanimous decision over former sparring partner Rashad Evans.

Silva, a native of Brazil, defeated Sonnen at UFC 117 in August 2010 in Oakland, Calif., by a fifth-round submission.

While eager to face Sonnen in his home country, Silva took the news of their rematch taking place in Las Vegas in stride. He will be making his 10th title defense.

"I don't have fans only in Brazil, but worldwide," said Silva, who is 31-4."So regardless of where this fight is, I will be representing Brazil. I will be doing my job for my fans."

Sonnen, who dominated most of the fight with Silva, earned a rematch against the champion when he defeated Michael Bisping by unanimous decision on Jan. 28.

"Look, Las Vegas is the fight capital of the world," Sonnen said."This is the biggest fight in the history of combat -- boxing, wrestling, fighting, anything that is mano a mano, there has been nothing that is bigger than this.

"We're going to the fight capital of Earth. We will be the biggest sporting event in the history of combat."

Sonnen will enter the bout with a professional record of 27-11-1 and a two-fight win streak.

ALSO SEE