When word surfaced last week regarding Georges St. Pierre’s knee injury and inability to compete this weekend at UFC 137 it’s likely a few people upstairs at Zuffa headquarters were left in a momentary state of panic after losing the event’s headliner. However, as is so often the case when it comes to life in general, the UFC powers that be probably didn’t consider how good a situation they were actually in.
No, obviously the last minute removal of a title-fight featuring one of your company’s most popular athletes is not a positive thing.
Rather, the silver lining surrounding an otherwise dark cloud pertains to the fact the lineup boasted enough quality clashes to maintain the card’s integrity even without Carlos Condit attempting to dethrone GSP in the main event. To be quite honest, if some cruel stroke of fate laid Nick Diaz vs. B.J. Penn to waste in the coming days the show would still have legs to stand on with the pair of heavyweight bouts, competitive undercard affairs, and a solid set of Spike prelims (plus some semi-stars on Facebook like Brandon Vera) available for pushing up to the PPV broadcast.
However, flip forward a week on your MMA calendar and you’ll find UFC 138, as poor an excuse for a major UFC event as has ever been constructed. From top to bottom UFC 138 is serviceable for a Fight Night at best and Strikeforce Challengers at worst. There hasn’t been such a major dud in England since Guy Fawkes failed bomb Parliment (also on November 5 as chance would have it). While there may be a saving grace in the sense American viewers can tune in for free and watch things unfold on tape delay, don’t fool yourself into believe the organization is doing you a favor because in reality the buyrate would have been one of the lowest in recent history if not the bottom floor itself.
UFC 138 is as fragile as Samuel L. Jackson’s character from Unbreakable if dipped in a vat of liquid nitrogen. When it comes to the headliner between Mark Munoz and Chris Leben – yes, headliner – one misplaced step or errant punch, and the card will come crumbling down like the stack of poorly constructed Lego Blocks it is.
Rather than have any sort of real contingency plan for disaster as are usually in place, your candidates to replace Munoz vs. Leben:
Brad Pickett vs. Renan Barao – Pickett hasn’t fought in more than a year and is making his UFC debut after a solid run in WEC while Barao is a legitimate beast. The fight is sure to be an entertaining one. That being said, could you pick either of them out of a crowd assuming Pickett had his trademark hat off? No.
Thiago Alves vs. Papy Abedis – Alves has some star-power but has also lost three of his last four fights. He also hasn’t stopped an opponent with strikes in more than three years. Abedi, though undefeated, is 33 and is fighting under the Zuffa banner for the first time. Again, not nearly a headliner or even co-headliner for that matter.
Michihiro Omigawa vs. Jason Young – Both are coming off losses, neither is likely to get fans salivating. Though it should be a good fight, again, not nearly deserving of a spot at the top (even the main card if we’re being honest).
I fully realize UFC 138 is in the U.K. and shows there are historically weak. Regardless, it has been a year since the UFC has stopped in Europe and if UFC 138 is the best the brass can do for an annual appearance it’s no better than an estranged family member who shows up once a year at Christmas with gas station gifts while expecting better in return.
To short folks in England is a slap in the face to every fan in the region and somewhat inexcusable on the part of the UFC. It should also be a wake up call in terms of what could happen in your neck of the woods too unless you live in a major hub so long as the company keeps producing events at the rate they are these days. The people across the pond deserve better. All MMA fans do.
What do you think about the subject on today’s “Opening Round”? Tell us on our Twitter account (@mmatraining)!
PHOTO CREDIT – UFC