Chael Sonnen is ready
The sky must be falling.
UFC 151 was cancelled, and the UFC 153 main event had to be changed to Anderson Silva vs. Stephan Bonnar, which set Twitter on fire for all the wrong reasons.
Don’t panic, UFC fans. The company’s growth is continuing on schedule, and the latest problems can teach four lessons to remember for the future.
1. Give the champion what he wants.
Jon Jones won the UFC light heavyweight title and made a few successful defenses, so he should have some input on who his next challenger should be.
This would avoid the unseemly situation Dana White found himself in, cancelling the entire UFC 151 card and publicly chastising Jones.
Of course, Jones now has a marketable “heel” persona, and maybe more fans will watch and root for him to lose than if they had been cheering him.
Painting your champion as being selfish or greedy is one thing. Painting him as a coward is another thing, and it doesn’t make him marketable as a tough guy.
2. Don’t announce a main event until it’s signed.
UFC was quick to announce Lyoto Machida as a replacement for Dan Henderson after he bowed out of the fight with Jones due to injury. However, Jones and Machida did not want to fight each other.
Vitor Belfort is the new challenger for Jones’ title, but now he looks like the third choice, when all of us could have viewed him as the second choice.
3. Keep a late replacement in your back pocket.
Chael Sonnen is training to fight this weekend, just in case he is needed as a last-minute sub. This is a great idea.
UFC should do this for every pay-per-view. Between this and the triple main event idea, UFC won’t have to worry about canceling shows or delivering lackluster fight cards.
4. Have three main-event caliber matchups for pay-per-views.
These days, it’s rare for a UFC pay-per-view to arrive without two or even all three of the top bouts being changed due to injury.
When UFC announces a pay-per-view, it should be prepared for any of the top three fights to be the main event.
That might mean running fewer pay-per-views, and that’s OK. If the pay-per-views were more widely spaced, UFC could cultivate a fan base that watches all of the fights on broadcast, cable AND pay-per-view.
That’s when the money really starts rolling in.