LMFAO’s lyric from Party Rock Anthem, “everyday I’m shufflin’” has to be the theme that plays in the heads of Dana White and Joe Silva for most of 2012. Match maker Joe Silva is constantly shuffling the fight cards this year due to many injuries sidelining fighters. 2012 has been particularly bad for this, as the injury bug seemed to target the big name fighters in main and co-main events.
One fight card could not be saved at all. UFC 151 was to take place September 1 with the main event being a championship match between Light Heavyweight Champion, Jon “Bones” Jones defending against number one contender, Dan Henderson. Unfortunately, Henderson hurt his knee and didn’t let UFC brass know until 8 days before the event. On short notice, former middleweight contender Chael Sonnen stepped up to take the fight. The champ, Jones, felt that it was not enough notice to prepare and did not want to put up his title, so he turned the fight down. This lead to Dana White and the UFC to pull the plug and cancel an event for the first time in 11 years.
All these injuries are giving fans fights that are either more favorable or match ups they wouldn’t normally see. Michael Bisping was to fight Tim Boetsch, while Brian Stann was to welcome Bellator Middleweight Champion, Hector Lombard to the octagon. Bisping and Stann both got injured leaving Boetsch to fight Lombard. This lead to the favorable fight between Bisping and Stann at UFC 152.
All this shuffling from injuries has also lead to a few head-scratchers in terms of fights. UFC 152’s main event is Jon Jones defending his Light Heavyweight Championship against now former middleweight, Vitor Belfort. After Henderson dropped out, and Jones turned down Sonnen, the fight was moved to September 22, and the title shot was offered to Lyoto Machida. By knocking out Ryan Bader at UFC on FOX 5, Machida earned the next shot at the belt, so it was surprising that he turned down the fight saying he needed time to prepare. Vitor Belfort was more than happy to move up in weight and take the championship opportunity on short notice.
Eric Koch was to fight Jose Aldo for the Featherweight Championship in Calgary. Injuries forced that fight a few months later at UFC in Brazil. An injury to Koch lead to a dream match between Aldo and former Lightweight Champion, Frankie Edgar. However, that was too good to be true. A foot injury due to a motorcycle accident took Aldo out of the main event. UFC was shuffling again, and middleweight champion, Anderson Silva stepped up and said he’d fight on the card. Best they could do was find him a 205lb match against Stephan Bonnar. Oh, and in case you’re keeping score, the co-main event of the card was to feature Rampage Jackson, but he had to pull out due to an elbow injury. Now the co-main event is Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira taking on Dave “Peewee” Herman.
All these injuries leading to all this shuffling was no easy task for Dana White, Joe Silva and the UFC. Doing their best, they made fights that may not necessarily make sense in terms of rankings, but found a way to fill them with exciting fighters and fights we all thought we would never see.