When UFC President Dana White announced the cancellation of UFC 151 on Thursday (August 23), the world of mixed martial arts was turned upside down. As we all know, Dan Henderson was injured and forced out of his title shot with Jon Jones. With eight days left until the event, Jones declined an offer to fight Chael Sonnen for the title and the UFC felt that there wasn't enough star power on the event to keep it on pay-per-view. While White put all the blame on Jones and his trainer Greg Jackson, it was White's decision to call off the event and to leave the other UFC 151 fighters in the dark. What can the UFC learn from the debacle that was (or wasn't) UFC 151?
In the past couple years, the problem of losing major fights to injury has ruined a handful of events but it's never gotten to the point where an event was cancelled. The promotion was relying on the star power of Jones and Hendo to sell the event, which would normally be okay, but how could an injury scenario not be thought of ahead of time?
One way for the UFC to prevent this from happening again would to let the following event's headliners know that they may be forced to move up to compete in the main event. If the UFC had this in play for UFC 151, the current main event wouldn't have helped the scenario. While Joseph Benavidez and Demetrious Johnson are both fan favorites, it would have been a challenge to get buys from the average fan. The original UFC 152 main event of B.J. Penn vs. Rory MacDonald could have saved UFC 151, but an injury to MacDonald delayed that fight.
The most recent news to the drama of UFC 151 was that Anderson Silva offered to compete at the event in the light heavyweight division, but his offer came too late. I don't get why the UFC jumped the gun and cancelled the event without exhausting all options. Why not look to all the popular fighters that can sell events and ask if they can fight before pulling the plug? For as much as I have never liked Chael Sonnen, he wanted to fight and while Jones wouldn't compete with him, but Sonnen can sell events, so why not give him a fight?
The only thing I know about this entire ordeal is that it is horrible for the thousands of fans that paid for their airfare and hotel to Las Vegas, only to be left without a UFC event to watch. I know Sin City will provide plenty of options for nightlife, but that doesn't help the fans that were attending what could have been the only event they would ever see live.
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Hobson Lopes has been a fan of mixed martial arts since the days of Tank Abbott and can be followed on Twitter @HobsonLopes.