With the dust finally settling on the historic SNAFU pertaining to the cancellation of UFC 151 it’s easy to see the situation could have been handled far better than it was by all of the involved parties. Fortunately, while nothing can change the past, the matter can at least be used as a learning tool to help avoid a future show being scrapped under similar circumstances.
In the sport of students heading back to school in the coming days/weeks, here are three lessons the debacle surrounding UFC 151 should have taught the powers that be at Zuffa:
Less Reliance on Main Event Match-Ups
By booking deeper cards the UFC can avoid the need to rely so heavily on headlining fights. While that may mean less total events each year, the trade off is worth it based on not only providing better shows but insurance as well. The problem with UFC 151 was that there were three match-ups on the PPV portion of the card that would have been lucky to see airtime on most FX/Fuel TV events. When Jon Jones–Dan Henderson fell apart the UFC could no longer sell the show to fans as being worth the price of admission, a problem easily solved with a strong supporting cast to work with.
Better Communication with Fighters
Henderson hurt his knee three weeks before the bout yet it appears the UFC only received a day’s notice about him pulling out. While fighters are not likely to risk revealing any medical issues they may have encountered until forced to do so, there should be a measure in place when it comes to main event competitors. Had “Hendo” simply informed the UFC he was questionable the organization could have started working on a back-up plan in case he had to withdraw (which he ultimately did). Likewise, they could have also spoken to Jones’ team to find out how much notice he would need to change course without actually speaking about Henderson’s specific problem.
Wait a Day Before Addressing Things Openly
One of the UFC’s biggest flubs was allowing UFC President Dana White to rant and rave to media about how terribly craven their 25-year old champ and budding superstar was. While he’s always been an emotional executive, White’s decision to publicly dump the blame on Jones and Greg Jackson was unnecessary (especially when considering multiple parties were at fault for the issue) and short-sighted. The UFC could have issued a press release announcing the cancellation and set up a conference call with media for the following day when not only more information would be available but White would have had a chance to calm down. Waiting would have also prevented the UFC from announcing Lyoto Machida would be fighting Jones when he in fact hadn’t even agreed to the match-up.
PHOTO CREDIT – UFC