THE SUNDAY SUPPLEMENT 11/27: UFC 206 loses its main event, UFC scrambles to make new top match Pettis-Holloway more relevant

By D.R. Webster, MMATorch contributor

Anthony Pettis (photo by Joshua Dahjl © USA Today Sports)

This week’s edition of the Sunday Supplement takes an in depth look at Daniel Cormier pulling out of his Light-Heavyweight Title defence against Anthony Rumble Johnson at UFC 206 in Canada due to injury as well as the new main event and state of the event now.

Cormier v Rumble Off, New Main Event For UFC 206:

The UFC 206 card in Canada, which is already suffering majorly from the lack of a GSP return, was dealt another huge blow this week as news broke that Daniel Cormier had pulled out event due to injury, leaving the card without a main event.

Cormier was due to defend the UFC Light Heavyweight Title against Anthony “Rumble” Johnson in a rematch from their fight at UFC 187, where D.C. beat Rumble via Rear Naked Choke to win the then-vacant Light Heavyweight Title.

At first, the injury was undisclosed and no details were release. However, light was shed on the situation during the UFC Fight Night: Melbourne weigh-ins, where it was revealed that Cormier had a torn adductor in the groin area, an injury which can take several months to heal from, meaning that we likely won’t see D.C. again until the late-spring, early-summer of 2017.

The UFC tried to book Rumble vs. Gegard Mousasi as a replacement, according to reports, but Johnson has decided to hold off and wait for Cormier to return next year so that he can fight for the belt instead. It’s not hard to see why, plus it also doesn’t make much sense for Mousasi, a top contender in the Middleweight Division, to take a risk and step up a weight class to fight Rumble for no good reason, especially after just fighting in Belfast last week.

While losing D.C. vs. Rumble was a big blow to the card, even with that fight, the line-up had been perceived as a bit of a letdown, mostly due to the aforementioned absence of GSP.

The only thing that would save the card in everyone’s eyes would be a GSP return, but with just over two weeks until the event, it isn’t going to happen and it would be ridiculous to spoil the massive GSP return by bringing him in on short notice and without the type of build and hype that he has earned.

With most of the big names in the UFC having already fought recently – for example most of the fighters on the UFC 205 card (Conor McGregor, Chris Weidman, Frankie Edgar, Joanna Jedrzejczyk, etc.) as well as others who are already booked to fight (Ronda Rousey, Demetrious Johnson), and more on the shelf currently for different reasons (Jon Jones, Michael Bisping, etc.), it left the UFC with very few if any good options to take on the main event slot at UFC 206.

Also to add to that, a name value fight that was meant to be on UFC 205 but was then moved to UFC 206 is now off as well.

Rashad Evans vs. Tim Kennedy was removed from the line-up this week due to Evans failing to be approved by the athletic commission. UFC looked at having Kennedy fight Kelvin Gastelum instead, but with his recent weight cutting issues, this is not the most reliable fight that the UFC could make. Who knows if Gastelum would even make weight at this short notice.

Also, Gastelum is currently suspended by the New York State Athletic Commission for six months after failing to attend the official weigh-ins earlier this month ahead of a fight with Donald Cerrone at UFC 205. According to reports he was almost 10 pounds overweight ahead of the event and, after the fight was cancelled, Dana White declared that Gastelum would never be allowed to compete at 170 pounds again.

It looks like White has gone back on his word here in order to try and fill out the UFC 206 card. However, Gastelum may be denied a license to fight Kennedy in Toronto anyway due to his suspension from the NYSAC, so it is a “wait and see” situation for this fight.

A new main event has been announced, though. Max Holloway will face Anthony Pettis and it will be for the Interim UFC Featherweight Title, now that the UFC has stripped Conor McGregor of the Featherweight Title. Jose Aldo is now the Champion, leaving the Interim Title, which was won by Aldo at UFC 200, to be decided. This fight, in my opinion, doesn’t fill the gap of D.C. vs. Rumble very well, never mind making up for the lack of GSP on the card.

This fight is not a big draw for a PPV and, for a card that is already struggling, this doesn’t make things any better for the UFC. They are now worse off than they were with D.C. vs. Rumble as the main event and I can’t see this card doing well.

When it comes to the fight itself, Holloway is on a tear, winning his last nine fights, while Pettis only just snapped a three fight losing streak by winning his featherweight debut against Charles Oliveira in August, making this fight look like a bit of a mismatch. Does Pettis deserve a shot at the Interim title after three losses and only one fight in the Featherweight Division?

It may have made more sense to have Holloway against Aldo for the vacant UFC Featherweight Title. With that not on the table here, a thin Featherweight Division, and some of the top ten either booked to fight (Cub Swanson) or having just fought (Frankie Edgar, Joe Stephens, Oliveira, Ricardo Lamas), Pettis lucked out and now has the Interim Title shot.

This card has been overshadowed by GSP from the start and it set the UFC up for a fail. Now with a lack of big fights, UFC 206 will most likely under perform and will be mostly forgotten about shortly after or only remembered as a missed opportunity for a GSP return and that’s it.

NOW CHECK OUT LAST WEEK’S SUNDAY SUPPLEMENT: 11/20: Fedor Emelianenko signs with Bellator MMA, now scheduled for first U.S. fight since 2011

(D.R. Webster writes “The Sunday Supplement” for MMATorch each week and also authors the MMATorch Daily Trivia feature. He has written for Daily Record Sport, WrestleTalk TV, Sports Kings, and a variety of other combat sports sites and publications, including review shows and DVDs, news reporting, columns, and fantasy articles.)

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