Did UFC 176 need to be cancelled? (Playing Devil's advocate)

Today is August 2, 2014. It is a regular Saturday, one which means little to MMA fans, if anything at all.

A full week has passed since the latest UFC FOX card, and Bellator's latest Summer Series closed up last Friday. The next card for any major MMA promotion is UFC Fight Night 47 on August 16, but there's not much buzz going around for that card.The card is two weeks away, which for UFC fans, might as well be an eternity, after a string of 17 cards in the last 15 weeks, seven of which came within 30 days, and since June 28, the UFC took only one week off.

Well MMA fans, we are basically in the midst of an MMA drought. The only card from a notable MMA promotion that I can think of that will take place between last weekend's FOX card and Fight Night 47 is WSOF 12, but only hardcore MMA fans seem to be showing any interest towards it at all.

Even though there will be a bevy of MMA action from August 9th onward, a period in which the UFC will have ten events in eight weeks Bellator will begin it's eleventh season a few weeks later, and WSOF will host an event in each of the next three months, and AXS TV will host a card almost every week, today could have been an interesting day in MMA.

That's because today, UFC 176 was scheduled to go down. The UFC's only Featherweight Champion Jose Aldo would have faced Chad Mendes, in a grudge match of sorts, due to Aldo's Nova Uniao teammate Renan Barao's loss current Bantamweight Champion and Mendes' Alpha Male teammate TJ Dillashaw. In an intriguing co-main event, submission specialist Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza was scheduled to take on inderrated finisher Gegard Mousasi, in a potential Middleweight title eliminator.

The rest of the card was full of intriguing bouts as well, with Zach Makovsky facing Jussier Formiga in a potential Flyweight title eliminator, a solid women's fight, and several potentially entertaining Lightweight bouts, amongst other matchups.

However, on July 2nd, Jose Aldo suffered what seems like his millionth injury. As a result, six days later, the card was cancelled. For just the second time in UFC history, such a thing had occurred.

While it's definitely possible that the UFC even tried to convince FOX to put the card on FOX, FS1, FS2 or even FX, there's no proof of this. Seeing how the injury to Aldo's neck occurred a full month before the fight, I find it hard to believe that FOX would refuse to air the card on any of its networks.

Putting the card on FS1 may have been a bit tricky, seeing how they are planning to air a soccer game from 8:00 to 10:00p.m. central, but they could have aired the main card from 6:00-8:00, or since the fight's were to occur at Staples Center in Los Angeles, from 10:00-midnight.

Perhaps that would have been pushing it, so FOX could have tried putting the card on FX. That way, instead of airing a rerun of X-Men Origins: Wolverine, which came out over five years ago, the channel would get a chance to put forth a solid card featuring some pretty relevant and seemingly entertaining fights. Also, the channel could have gotten viewers to stick around for some of its new programs, in order to increase its overall viewership.

If not FX, FOX could have tried to put the card on FS2. It would certainly be an upgrade over what is scheduled to air on the network throughout primetime hours: World Poker Tour highlights.

Ultimately, if the UFC and FOX were willing, I find it hard to believe that they couldn't find a place to air the card. In the end, the question needs to be asked: did UFC 176 need to be cancelled?

Let's go back to the first time the UFC cancelled an event. That event, UFC 151, was almost two years ago. Top Light Heavyweight contender, Dan Henderson, concealed an injury for three weeks, and champion Jon Jones refused to fight Chael Sonnen on less than two weeks notice. As a result, the card was cancelled, Jon Jones was lambasted by UFC President Dana White, and the UFC would be on a six week break.

When that card got cancelled, it was easy to see why. Without the title fight, the card was so poor that it wouldn't even suffice as a Fuel TV card! Four of the remaining main card fighters are no longer in the UFC, including Jake Ellenberger's co-main event opponent Jay Hieron. The cancellation, which occurred just over a week before the event was scheduled to happen, was way too short a window to find a replacement title fight, or even a high profile bout that would suffice for a PPV main event.

While the prelim portion of the card featured a several fighters who are currently rising up the ranks (Michael Johnson, Abel Trujillo, Takeya Mizugaki, Danny Castillo, Daron Cruickshank before he lost to Jorge Masvidal), most of them were nowhere near as highly regarded as they are now.

However, UFC 176 was in a much different boat than UFC 151 was, in my opinion. Even without the title fight, the remaining card was quite an interesting one, especially compared to UFC 151. Two title eliminators, a pair of fights between rising lightweight contenders in Abel Trujillo vs. Bobby Green and Tony Ferguson vs. Danny Castillo, a gimme fight for once fearsome Gray Maynard, a must-win middleweight bout between Lorenz Larkin and Derek Brunson, a fun women's fight between Bethe Correira and Shayna Baszler, as well as the return of Dominican finisher Alex Garcia would have taken place on the card.

With no alterations besides the title fight, here's what a potential PPV main card would have looked like:

  • Jacare Souza vs. Gegard Mousasi (Middleweight title eliminator)
  • Zach Makovski vs. Jussier Formiga (Flyweight title eliminator)
  • Bobby Green vs. Abel Trujillo (potential fight of the night candidate)
  • Bethe Correia vs. Shayna Baszler (intriguing women's bout)
  • Gray Maynard vs. Fabricio Camoes/Tony Ferguson vs. Danny Castillo (either both go on the main card, or one get's relegated to the prelims)

Not a horrible card, is it? And that's without the UFC adding another potential top contender fight on the card Sure, it's not the most appealing UFC pay-per-view card, but then again, how many early August UFC pay-per-view cards have been?

Last year, at UFC 162, Jose Aldo fought the "Korean Zombie", Chan Sung Jung, in the main event. He was originally supposed to fight current UFC Lightweight Champion Anthony Pettis, but Pettis got injured and was replaced by Jung. In the co-main, there was a relevant fight between Phil Davis and former Light Heavyweight Champion Lyoto Machida, which not too many people were seemingly looking forward to.

Cezar Ferreira, the first TUF: Brazil winner, former Middleweight Championship challenger Thales Leites, and John Lineker were also a part of the main card. Of the four undercard fights, the only one that was mildly entertaining was the Lineker fight, and that's because Lineker knocked Jose Maria Tome out in the second round.

In the main event, the only fight that most buyers were looking to, the fight wound up being nowhere near as exciting as predicted, likely due to Aldo injuring his foot early in the bout. Both fighters looked tentative throughout, and the high point came when Aldo noticed Jung's shoulder injury. As a result, Aldo attacked the injured shoulder, and Jung wound up succumbing to the injury, unable to fight off Aldo's punches in the fourth round.

The card was expected to bomb, and it did, garnering only 170,000 buys.

A year earlier, the August PPV was UFC 150. In this card, then UFC Lightweight Champion was scheduled to take on the man he took the belt from a few months earlier, Frankie Edgar. This card also featured some known names, but like UFC 164, most of those fights screamed "meh".

Former Strikeforce Middleweight Champion and UFC Welterweight Championship challenger Jake Shields laid n' prayed his way through a fight with Ed Herman, Yushin Okami earned a rare finish against a guy in Buddy Roberts who doesn't even have a Wikipedia page, and while the main card opening fight between Max Holloway and Justin Lawrence was fun, neither fighter was well known enough to have casual fans care.

The co-main event, in which Donald Cerrone fought his good friend and recently released Melvin Guillard, was a truly exciting fight. However, it lasted only 76 seconds. Sure, it was great, but it was too short.

The main event was an okay fight, but ended with a controversial decision win for Henderson, a feat he has accomplished several times since. This card did better than UFC 164, but with only 190,000 buys, it was far from a success.

The previous year, UFC 133 garnered 310,000 buys, but that's because Rashad Evans, Tito Ortiz and Vitor Belfort were on the card.

Basically, since the famed UFC 117 battle in August 2010, the UFC has consistently failed to put together a decent main card for a PPV, barring the championship fights.

Also, the UFC is currently in a state of supersaturation, while most of its champions have been on the shelf for quite some time. Sure, they're all expected to return later this year, but some of them have been out for upwards of nearly a year!

Even the cards in which their champions have fought have produced lackluster buyrates! Most of them have garnered a round 300,000 buys, but UFC 174, in which UFC Flyweight Champion Demetrius Johnson fought Ali Bagautinov, garnered only about 105,000 buys!

Even without a title fight, it's hard to see UFC 176 do much worse than that. Even if it could, and even if FOX refused to air the card on one of it's networks (this card was better on paper than most Fight Night cards), there's one other thing the UFC could have done: put the card on Fight Pass.

Sure, that would mean the card would garner no buyrate or tv viewership, but at least the card wouldn't be cancelled, and a bunch of refunds wouldn't have to be handed out for all the fans that had bought tickets for the event.

Also, it could have vastly boosted subscriptions for Fight Pass. None of the first seven Fight Pass cards to date would be as loaded as this one would have been, and it's quite possible that more eyeballs would have been glued to the site than ever before.

If there's one way to get more people to get hooked to Fight Pass without offering massive discounts on PPVs, it's by having a great card on it. While UFC 176 isn't what most people would call great, it would certainly go down as the best card on paper to stream on the online subscription network to date.

Of course, the UFC didn't opt to do that, and just cancelled the card all together. As a result, unless OSP vs. Ryan Bader is viewed as one, MMA fans find themselves with no relevant fights until late August, whether it be the UFC's Tulsa card on the 23rd, or UFC 177 a week later.

Speaking of UFC 177, let's see what's going on in that card. So far, ten fights have been booked for the card. The main event is a rematch between Renan Barao and the man who took his Bantamweight sash, TJ Dillashaw, in a rematch virtually nobody was clamoring for.

In the co-main event, UFC Flyweight Champion Demetrius Johnson takes on Chris Cariaso, whose only notable win came in a decision against Takeya Mizugaki over two years ago. That's right, there's actually two "title" fights on the card, while UFC 176 only had one. I wonder what would happen if one of the championship fights had to be postponed or cancelled due to an injury. Would the UFC cancel that card too, or would they let it tank like most of their recent PPV cards?

Also on the card are three of the fights that were originally scheduled for UFC 176 (Correia/Baszler, Ferguson/Castillo and Larkin/Brunson), and a few other decent fights. That said, if anyone believes that this card is going to sell well, I have a bridge I'd like to sell them.

While three of UFC 176's fights have been placed on that card, three apiece have been allocated to the Bader/OSP card and the August 23rd Tulsa card. Aldo vs. Mendes has been moved to UFC 179 in Brazil on October 25, while Souza vs. Mousasi will, go figure, be headlining the 50th edition of UFC Fight Night, and will take place on Friday, September 5th.

Contrary to how this article may read, I'm not really upset about the cancellation of UFC 176. I fully understand the reasoning behind the UFC's decision to do so, and I do like how the fights on the card have been sprinkled on to other cards.

However, I am a bit perplexed as to how this card was considered pay-per-view worthy, if the removal of the main event resulted in a cancellation. Could they not make it a big time FS1 card instead? That way, despite the injury to Aldo, the card would still get great numbers, even if it wouldn't break FS1 records like it would have if Aldo was healthy. This card actually consisted of fights that are relevant today, unlike every UFC 151 fight, barring the Jones/Henderson fight.

Unlike UFC 161, the last time a PPV was headlined by a non-title fight, this card actually had value to it on the main card. The late addition of Stipe Miocic vs. Roy Nelson was not much of an attention grabber, and aside from the opening fight between Shawn Jordan and Pat Barry, every other UFC 161 main card fight was destined to bore. The prelim headliner between Tyron Woodley and Jake Shields was far from exciting, just as many had predicted. The main event between Dan Henderson and Rashad Evans was not much of an entertaining bout, and the card floundered it's way to a weak 140,000 buys.

That card, ladies and gentlemen, was a poor one, and many had hoped that the UFC had learned its lesson about putting together weak cards. As it turns out, not only has the UFC not learned its lesson, it has actually decided to add more fighters and events than ever before, which could result in more weak PPVs and buyrates like UFC 174.

Sure, upcoming cards such as UFC 178, UFC 180 and UFC 181 look good thus far, but what happens after that? Will anyone be surprised if most of the year's remaining cards, and several of 2015's cards are relatively shallow? It's hard to believe that such a thing won't happen again.

Hopefully, the UFC will start to plan things better, now that they have had to cancel yet another event. While it's doubtful, I certainly have hope that they do. Maybe now, the UFC will lessen the amount of events that they put forth, so that more of their cards can actually hold water, and their PPV cards can truly be considered worthy of even a casual fan's money. If they don't adapt now, catastrophe may actually strike.

\The FanPosts are solely the subjective opinions of Bloody Elbow readers and do not necessarily reflect the views of Bloody Elbow editors or staff.

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