This year has to go down as one of the worst years for the UFC in terms of injuries and how they affected big fights on major shows. Throughout 2012, UFC brass was constantly shuffling around cards to accommodate injured competitors. Injuries happen. From last minute replacements giving fighters their octagon debut to mixing up weight divisions using catch weight bouts, Zuffa officials did what they could to salvage what seems to be every fight card this year. However, there was one event that just could not be saved and for the first time ever, the UFC cancelled an entire card. What sets 2012 apart from other years is the number of main events that had to be altered. It’s one thing to replace a fighter on the undercard, but when the co-main and main events have to be changed, it presents a new set of headaches. From marketing the fight, to convincing main event fighters to take a short notice fight.
Here are five marquee fights that were supposed to happen in 2012, yet never did due to injury.
5) Uriah Faber vs Dominick Cruz
– They were coaches on the first season of The Ultimate Fighter on FX. The only season where every fight was live. The season was to end with a rubber match between Faber and Cruz for the UFC Bantam Weight championship. A knee injury to champion Cruz ended that idea and Faber lost via decision to Renan Bararo for the interim bantam weight championship.
4) Shane Carwin vs Roy Nelson
– These are the current coaches for The Ultimate Fighter and for the second season in a row, a coach injures his knee. Shane Carwin is out, Matt Mitrione is in and will face Roy Nelson in the main event at the Ultimate Fighter season finale on December 15th.
3) Frankie Edgar vs Jose Aldo
– Originally, Aldo was to defend his featherweight championship against Eric Koch in Calgary. Koch got injured, and Edgar, after losing a close decision to lightweight champ, Ben Henderson, agreed to drop down in weight and take on Aldo. A fight that many wanted to see. But as soon as we were about to get it, Aldo injures his foot in a motorcycle accident.
2) Georges St-Pierre vs Nick Diaz
– Nick Diaz will probably go down as the only fighter to really get under the skin of long time UFC welterweight champion, Georges St-Pierre. But a devastating knee injury put GSP on the shelf for 19 months. Diaz then faced Carlos Condit for the interim championship and lost. Recently, GSP made his comeback, dominating Condit, save for an iffy moment in the third round, to be the undisputed champion. He now ponders a super fight against middleweight champion, Anderson Silva, or a match up against number one welterweight contender, Johnny Hendricks.
1) Jon Jones vs Dan Henderson
– Dan Henderson stood as the last test before champion Jon Jones clears out the UFC’s light heavyweight division. A knee injury to Henderson with eight days until UFC 151, left match makers scrambling. The only fighter willing to step up on short notice was middleweight Chael Sonnen. Jones, however, turned down the fight deeming he did not have enough time to prepare. This lead to Zuffa scrapping the entire event. Now Jones and Sonnen are filming the latest season of the Ultimate Fighter to air in 2013 and hopefully both will be injury-free by the time they fight in April.
I can only hope that 2013 will have fewer injuries. We never see major boxing events modified or canceled and I think a big key to that is how their fight camps are designed. Camps are made to compliment the individual fighter. Others are brought in with strengths they need to specifically work on. Too often in MMA, fighters are training in super teams. Maybe an overzealous team mate takes thing too far or a coach over trains their fighter. Whatever the case is, something has to be done to curb the injuries. It’s better for the fighters and the business of fighting.