With fighters dropping like flies, several of the promotion’s heavy-hitting events over the summer have undergone massive changes, while its fall and winter events in Canada are starting to come together… if they can be held together.
UFC 147 started out with the potential to be the biggest blockbuster event in the history of the promotion, if not all of mixed martial arts. UFC middleweight champ Anderson Silva was to rematch Chael Sonnen with TUF Brazil coaches Vitor Belfort and Wanderlei Silva squaring off in the co-main event in a soccer stadium in Brazil.
Originally planned for Sao Paulo, the event was moved to Rio de Janeiro. But when a United Nations convention derailed Rio, with no sizable venue available at the appropriate time, the UFC moved Silva vs. Sonnen II to UFC 148 in Las Vegas.
Belfort vs. Silva II was upgraded to the main event and UFC 147 was moved to Belo Horizonte. An injury then knocked Belfort out, so now UFC 147 will still take place on June 23 in Belo Horizonte, but with Wanderlei Silva vs. Rich Franklin II as the new main event.
Early July is annually one the promotion’s biggest events of the year. UFC 148 started out with Dominick Cruz putting his bantamweight belt on the line against Urijah Faber in a rubber match following their stint as coaches on The Ultimate Fighter. It also featured Forrest Griffin vs. Tito Ortiz III and a middleweight clash between Michael Bisping and Tim Boetsch.
UFC 148 only grew in status with the addition of Silva vs. Sonnen II, even though promotion officials moved Bisping vs. Boetsch to the UFC 149 fight card in Calgary. But shortly thereafter, that’s when the wheels fell off.
Griffin vs. Ortiz III remains on the UFC 148 card in Las Vegas, as does the Silva vs. Sonnen II headliner, but several more changes again altered UFC 148, UFC 149 and UFC on Fox 4.
Cruz injured his ACL and will be on the sidelines for several months, so Renan Barão was matched up with Faber to declare and interim bantamweight champion.
Brian Stann fell out the UFC on Fox 4 headliner due to injury, leaving UFC debutant Hector Lombard without an opponent. Then Bisping followed suit, leaving Boetsch without a fight. The UFC moved Lombard over to UFC 149 to face Boetsch.
Needing a headlining bout for UFC on Fox 4, the promotion pulled Mauricio “Shogun” Rua off of the UFC 149 fight card, where his opponent, Thiago Silva, withdrew due to injury. They moved Shogun into the headlining slot for UFC on Fox 4 to face Brandon Vera after the Brazilian told White that he would quit before facing countryman Glover Teixeira.
As if that weren’t enough, UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo was the next fighter bitten by the injury bug. Moving swiftly, the UFC shelved Aldo vs. Koch altogether, transferring Faber vs. Barão from UFC 148 into the UFC 149 main event.
So that’s where we stand on the UFC’s summer events after the latest casualties, but don’t be surprised if further changes emerge as we’re still two weeks out from UFC 147, the first of the mentioned events.
Moving on to later Canadian events, the UFC is putting together some solid main and co-main events for its next stops in Toronto and Montreal.
White recently announced that UFC heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos’s rematch with Cain Velasquez – after both were successful at UFC 146 – will happen at UFC 152 on Sept. 22 in Toronto. Not only will the promotion go big, literally, in the main event, they’ve also finally enticed BJ Penn out of retirement to face rising welterweight contender Rory MacDonald in the co-main event.
Heavyweight main events are typically a big hit amongst fans, and Penn always is. Should these fights remain intact, Toronto will once again be a big score for the promotion.
Georges St-Pierre, pending his return from knee surgery, is penciled in as the UFC 154 main event, putting his belt on the line against interim welterweight champion Carlos Condit. And if that holds up, White would like to supplement that bout with a No. 1 contender’s bout between Johny Hendricks and Martin Kampmann.
So there you have, the minefield also known as the UFC’s summer schedule and the promise of future blockbusters. Will they hold up as planned? Doubtful, but we can always hope.
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