With the Heavyweight Championship fight off of UFC 196 next week, the event now has a new headliner, and a new broadcast home. According to a report from Kevin Iole at Yahoo! Sports, UFC 196 will now air live on Fox Sports 1, with the originally scheduled co-main event between Johny Hendricks and Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson serving as the main event.
The shift comes after both Cain Velasquez and Fabricio Werdum pulled out of the event due to injury this past week, and with no acceptable replacement for a pay-per-view event, the UFC opted to downgrade to cable television. Stipe Miocic had originally stepped in for the injured Velasquez, but Werdum decided not to take that fight due to his own ailments into the event.
Fox Sports 1 was originally slated to air motorcycle racing in that timeslot, likely making it an easier decision for them and the UFC, though it’s still an unusual step. This will be the first numbered UFC event on cable television since November of 2011, when UFC 138 aired on Spike TV from Birmingham, England.
Penick’s Analysis: This was the right move from the UFC, and turns this event from a really poor pay-per-view event into a really good Fox Sports 1 card. The four fights set for the main card are great for cable TV, and it should be a really entertaining night of fights. Fans who paid a premium for the event to attend live and who want refunds will be able to get them given the change in main event, but for what this card now is, it will be a fine event. It likely wasn’t an easy call for them to make, but it’s absolutely the right one given they just did not have a fight worthy of the pay-per-view charge.