Dana White probably better hope he didn’t jinx himself.
The UFC president just got done talking about how fortunate the promotion has been in 2013 with injuries, and three days later he lost a major draw, which forced a changeup to the main event of two fight cards.
On Friday, Michael Bisping (24-5 MMA, 14-5 UFC) was forced out of the main event of UFC Fight Night 30, which takes place Oct. 26 in Manchester in his home country of England.
In response, the UFC plucked Lyoto Machida (19-4 MMA, 11-4 UFC) from his UFC Fight Night 31 main event against Tim Kennedy (16-4 MMA, 1-0 UFC) and instead will have him fight Mark Munoz (13-3 MMA, 8-3 UFC) in England.
So UFC Fight Night 30 has its new main event, but Fight Night 31 still seeks an opponent for Kennedy.
Even before he knew Bisping was going to be out – which would’ve been the popular Brit’s first fight in his home country in three years, a win over Yoshihiro Akiyama at UFC 120 – White was pleased with how few injuries have disrupted big events in 2013 as compared to 2012.
“This year has been great for us, coming off the worst year we’ve ever had,” White told a small group of reporters on Tuesday after a news conference for UFC 168 in Las Vegas. “I’m glad (2012) happened. I’m glad we went through that last year. Because if you would’ve told me before that was possible, I’d have said that’s impossible. You’re crazy – there’s no way that many people can get hurt consecutively.”
Among 2012's big injuries were welterweight champ Georges St-Pierre, who in late 2011 was forced out of a title defense against Nick Diaz at UFC 143; bantamweight champ Dominick Cruz, who suffered a knee injury during the live Season 15 of “The Ultimate Fighter” that forced him out of a title defense against Urijah Faber and created an interim title fight between Faber and Renan Barao; and Dan Henderson, whose knee injury knocked him out of a title shot against Jon Jones at the ill-fated UFC 151, which then was canceled when Jones turned down a fight with Chael Sonnen.
Free TV cards were affected, too. Shane Carwin had to pull out of the coaches fight against Roy Nelson for the TUF 16 Finale and was replaced by Matt Mitrione. Carwin later retired. And Antonio Rogerio Nogueira pulled out of the main event of UFC on FUEL TV 2 in Sweden against Alexander Gustafsson and was replaced by Thiago Silva.
And then there was Calgary. UFC 149 set the standard for cards ravaged by injuries. Featherweight champ Jose Aldo was to headline against Erik Koch, but was forced out with an injury. Bisping was supposed to fight Tim Boetsch, but was forced out. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira was to meet Cheick Kongo, but “Big Nog” couldn’t make it.
Akiyama was supposed to fight Thiago Alves, but Akiyama was forced out and replaced by Siyar Bahadurzada. Then Alves fell off and was replaced by Chris Clements. Then Bahadurzada was replaced by Matthew Riddle – who later tested positive for marijuana, making that entire bout effectively disappear as a no-contest.
To put it mildly, it was insanity.
“How about Calgary? An entire card got wiped out, and then half the second card got wiped out,” White said. “I just would have never believed that could happen. Now I know it can happen, I know it is possible, and if there was ever a testament to all the naysayers about the validity of the UFC as a sport and the fact we have staying power, that year proved it.”
Instead of pounding his head against the wall over unlucky injuries, White now knows they’re just a fact of life as a promoter – and sometimes, he just has to make the best of things.
When Anthony Pettis fell out of his featherweight title fight against Aldo, who knew that a month after he was supposed to fight for the 145-pound belt, he’d be healthy enough to fill in for T.J. Grant to challenge Benson Henderson for the lightweight title? And then, of course, subsequently win it?
“You’re either lucky or you’re not,” White told MMAjunkie.com. “This year, we’re lucky. Last year, we’re not. Even when bad things happen, we slide Pettis in there, and it ends up Pettis-Henderson, in (Pettis’) hometown, and that was a great fight, too.”
Now White will just have to hope for the same type of good fortune with the Machida-Munoz fight in Manchester – and hope that all the title fights on his year-end pay-per-views stay intact.
For more on the UFC’s upcoming schedule, stay tuned to the UFC Rumors section of the site.
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