The Vitor Belfort-Dan Henderson fight will draw NFL-like viewership levels on the Brazilian TV network Globo

Kevin Iole

Do you want to know why Vitor Belfort is fighting in Brazil on Saturday and not, say, in Las Vegas?

Some may guess that it's because Belfort can evade state athletic commissions in the U.S. that may look askance at his request to use testosterone replacement therapy (TRT). That, though, is hardly the case.

Belfort will face Dan Henderson on Saturday in a five-round light heavyweight bout in Goiania, Brazil, that will serve as the main event of UFC Fight Night 32 and will be broadcast in the U.S. on Fox Sports 1.

Belfort is headlining the show in Goiania at the request of Globo, the UFC's broadcast partner in Brazil and the South American nation's largest television network.

UFC president Dana White said viewership and ratings expectations for Saturday's card in Brazil are astronomical. He said Globo expects a 70-75 share and an average viewership of between 12 and 14 million people. That's staggeringly high for an MMA card, and is roughly comparable to the average viewership of an NFL regular season game in the U.S. in 2011 and 2012, particularly when accounting for the disparity in market size.

In 2012, NFL regular season games averaged 19.3 million viewers in the U.S. and had 31 of the top 32 TV shows in the fall. In the 2011 regular season, it averaged 16.6 million viewers a game.

That is why there will be 13 UFC cards in Brazil in 2014 and why Belfort's frequent appearances in his home nation have nothing to do with him trying to hide from TRT testers.

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