The UFC is in the midst of experiencing its annual spring/summer injury festival. A number of fighters have had to pull out of high profile fights due to injuries, leaving the UFC shuffling fights and fighters over the next few months.
Joe Silva did some reshuffling and booked a new UFC on Fox main-event and moved Hector Lombard off the show. The new headliner will feature former UFC light heavyweight champion Mauricio Shogun Rua against the returning Brandon Vera. Shogun became available after his opponent Thiago Silva got hurt and had to pull out of their UFC 149 fight. According to reports, nobody would be available for Shogun that quickly so they pushed him back to August.
The UFC loses pretty big here. While Stann vs. Lombard was a terribly weak headliner to bring in new fans, Shogun vs. Vera may be even worse. I love the idea of seeing Shogun on Fox but Brandon Vera is hardly anyone that any casual or hardcore MMA fan is going to get excited about. Plus, the UFC could have used the winner of Stann vs. Lombard to market as a new top challenger. I can’t imagine Shogun or Vera getting a title shot with a win. I also can’t imagine Shogun vs. Vera being anywhere close to as exciting of a fight as Stann vs. Lombard had the potential to be.
Ratings were down for the last UFC on Fox show and they keep on slipping. Most attribute that to the lack of star power in the headliner. While hardcore fans were real excited about seeing Nate Diaz vs. Jim Miller, those names don’t mean a lot to a casual fan who sees a commercial at home about the fight. Shogun is a boost in star power in the headliner so the UFC does gain something there. I just don’t see a fight with Brandon Vera exciting anyone.
The other big blow came to Michael Bisping. Bisping who is known for not cancelling fights has cancelled his upcoming fight against Tim Boetsch on UFC 149. Boetsch will now fight Hector Lombard in Calgary at UFC 149. I love the fight but it takes a potential title eliminator situation off the card, which is already a fairly weak show on paper. A knee injury in training is the culprit in this case.
Like Bisping or not, he is a star and the loss greatly hurts an already weak UFC 149 show. On top of that, the UFC had a great situation on their hands with Bisping or Boetsch. The winner could have immediately been in line to fight the Silva vs. Sonnen 2 UFC 148 winner in a title fight.
Two big fights down and we are only in the first week of June. It is going to be a long summer for Dana White and Joe Silva.