WHAT’S BEHIND UFC CANCELLING AN EVENT AND OTHER RECENT CHANGES?
An occurrence that used to be very rare for UFC now appears to be commonplace under the company’s new ownership with the cancellation of a March 3 event originally scheduled to take place from Las Vegas.
The company announced on Monday that they have decided to “postpone” the event scheduled to air on UFC Fight Pass the day before UFC 209, also from Las Vegas.
No fights had been announced, nor had a venue been established, and no tickets had yet been sold. The main event for UFC 209 taking place at the T-Mobile arena was only confirmed Monday night. Welterweight Champion Tyron Woodley will defend his title again against Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson.
This is the second event UFC has chosen to postpone/cancel in recent weeks. The show that was originally slated to be UFC 208 on Jan 21 in Anaheim was scrapped when a main event couldn’t be put together.
No makeup date has been announced, but seeing that UFC runs in Vegas quite frequently, the “postponement” won’t last long.
Hiscoe’s Analysis: UFC doesn’t run shows on back-to-back nights in the same market often, and when they do, it’s usually leading up to a huge show. This makes me wonder if they originally had the March 4 date pegged for a Conor McGregor fight with the extra Fight Pass show the day before to sell some extra tickets. With McGregor taking time off and saying he’s not fighting in Vegas anymore, there really isn’t another fight they could put together to justify two shows in the same town in two nights, so it makes sense just to cancel the show and move on. Woodley vs. Thompson is a great fight, but it’s not going to do blockbuster business.
One thing I’ve noticed under new management is that they have been much slower to put cards together and announce main events than they used to. In the past, main events would often be known months ahead of time and cards finalized many weeks in advance. Recently, we have tickets going on sale for shows before a main event is even announced and fights are being added to cards in the final week or two before an event. For example, the Jan 28 show set to air on Fox only has seven bouts officially announced and the Feb 19 FS1 show from Halifax only has six. Considering UFC usually books shows with 10-13 fights, these are very light cards and we will probably see some low level filler-fights thrown together at the last minute to flesh out the cards.
There are a few likely explanations for this. First is the new management is still learning the business they just bought in to. Also, they fired a good portion of their front office staff that may have been keeping on top of making sure events are being fully serviced. Also, Joe Silva’s tenure with the company is over and he may not have been working on any shows past the end of 2016 with the transition of Silva and Sean Shelby over to Shelby and Mick Maynard, thus making fights for smaller events may be falling through the cracks.
Another explanation is the fallout from the sale that has seen fighters fighting harder to get more money and only take fights they see as benefiting their careers. The idea that someone may take a short notice, or a not-so-attractive fight out of loyalty to Dana White and Lorenzo Fertitta isn’t there anymore. Many main event fighters are also holding out for new contracts or “money fights,” whether realistic or not, which is making it more difficult to put together main events.
I think that UFC runs too many shows and that the shows are too long so two fewer events in the first quarter of the year is no big loss. I think that two shows per month with about eight fights each is the sweet spot. That said, they currently have a lot of masters to serve between pay-per-view commitments and obligations to provide shows for Fox, so we won’t see major changes any time soon, but they do need to get their act together to avoid the embarrassment of cancelling more announced shows.
TUESDAY NOTEBOOK ITEMS…
-Speaking to the Irish Independent, Conor McGregor’s head coach John Kavanagh said that McGregor is concerned about future head injuries as a result of repeated blows to the head, but also feels that his fighting style will minimize the damage he takes long term.
-Evangelista Santos announced to MMA Fighting his retirement from the sport. Santos suffered a fractured skull back in July from a knee from Michael “Venom” Page in a Bellator fight. “I want to be remembered as someone who dedicated his life to the sport he loves and always gave his best, and never picked opponents,” he said.
-Liam McGeary vs. Chris Fields has been made for Bellator 173 from Belfast on Feb. 24. Ton of details were posted earlier HERE.
(MMATorch’s Daily News Digest features the top story of the day with added analysis, plus smaller tidbits in the News Notes section. Mike Hiscoe, who writes the News Digest Sundays through Thursdays, has a background in film criticism and previously wrote for the DVD Town and Movie Metropolis websites. His passion for Mixed Martial Arts goes back to 2005, but it was in the promotion for UFC 60: Hughes vs. Gracie that he really got hooked.”This is my house, I build it,” is still among the all-time great UFC promos. You can follow Mike on social media under the tag @mikehiscoe. He now provides his experienced writing and perspective on live MMA events for MMATorch.)