When the third Brazilian season of The Ultimate Fighter Brazil was announced with Wanderlei Silva and Chael Sonnen, there were expectations of a season filled with nationalistic conflict.
The season featured one of Brazil’s fighting heroes facing off with the American who made his name in being the anti-Brazilian villain in his prior matches with Anderson Silva.
But the reaction to the coaches in Brazil, ended up nothing like one would have expected. While Team Silva got the better of the early fights, it is Sonnen’s team that clearly came across as more sympathetic if you weren’t watching with Brazilian eyes.
Or, apparently, even if you were.
The reaction in Brazil, where as many as 12 million viewers have seen the show in certain weeks on Globo, even though it doesn’t air until after 11 p.m., and often after midnight on Sunday nights, has been the big surprise. It also airs on Fight Pass on Sundays in the rest of the world.
After the episode that aired on April 12, where Silva took a swing at Sonnen, and ended up being taken down. While the two were on the ground with Sonnen on top, one of Silva’s assistant coaches, Andre Dida, landed several punches to the back of Sonnen’s head.
A major Brazilian sports poll showed that 70 percent of Brazilians suddenly were behind Sonnen in their July 5 fight in Las Vegas.
The belief is that Silva still had support of the hardcore MMA fan base, particularly those who were aware of him during his Pride heyday. But outside of that group who loved Silva’s wide open and aggressive fighting style, he had limited support of the general public, or of casual fans.
The result was Silva doing a Q&A in Brazil, which airs with subtitles on Fight Pass, acknowledging the popularity shift, but blaming it largely on the editing process.