Breaking Down Which Recent UFC Injury Hurts the Company the Most

Vince Carey@@vcareymmaContributor IJune 10, 2012

Breaking Down Which Recent UFC Injury Hurts the Company the Most

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    Dominick Cruz, Vitor Belfort, Thiago Silva, Thiago Alves, Michael Bisping, Brian Stann, Jon Fitch, Jose Aldo.

    All eight of these fighters have either been in a main event or co-main event in the UFC, and more often than not they are all in featured bouts on nights that they step inside the Octagon.

    They’ve also all suffered an injury in the last month.

    Losing so many top stars in such a short time frame is a killer for any sports organization, but in a growing promotion like the UFC, where the number of fighters that casual fans care about is hitting an all-time low, UFC matchmaker Joe Silva is being forced to be very creative when finding replacement fights.

    Some of the biggest potential bouts of the year have already been affected by the recent run of injuries, and all the aforementioned fighters were featured in a prominent spot on their respective former fight cards prior to the injury. And with that, let's take a look at the injuries that will affect the UFC the most.

5. Thiago Silva and Thiago Alves

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    Both of these Brazilian Muay Thai specialists are beloved by fight fans for their aggressive style and ability to finish opponents, but neither Thiago Silva or Thiago Alves is anywhere near title contention at the moment.

    Silva recently dropped a unanimous decision to Alexander Gustafsson at UFC on FUEL 2 in April and, since his win over Brandon Vera at UFC 125 was changed to a no-contest due to a failed drug test, hasn’t won a bout since he knocked out Keith Jardine at UFC 102.

    Before his injury, Silva was set to fight Shogun Rua at UFC 149, and a win there would have done a tremendous amount of good for his career.

    Alves in a slightly similar situation, having lost two of his last three fights, his last against Martin Kampmann in a fight he was winning until getting caught by a fight-ending guillotine choke in the final minute.

    Alves has been unable to get on a serious win streak wince he lost his UFC title bout to Georges St-Pierre at UFC 100 and is now in desperate need of a few wins if he ever wants to get back into title contention.

    In short, both these fighters are valuable to the UFC since fans love them and they almost always find a way to put on an exciting bout, but neither one is at the level he used to be. Their injuries only hurt the UFC since their name value is high.

4. Michael Bisping and Jon Fitch

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    On the surface these two don’t have much in common, but Jon Fitch and Michael Bisping are both top fighters in their division looking to come back from tough losses to top contenders.

    Bisping was on the cusp of a title shot just six months ago in January, when he stepped up to replace Mark Munoz in the co-main event on UFC on FOX 2 and fought Chael Sonnen for the next shot at Anderson Silva and the middleweight belt.

    After a grueling three-round battle that saw Bisping negate Sonnen’s usually unstoppable takedowns for the majority of the bout, “The Count” ended up on the wrong side of a close unanimous decision loss.

    Now looking to get back in the mix at 185, Bisping was set to fight Tim Boetsch on the UFC 149 card in July before suffering a knee injury in training.

    Fitch is in a slightly worse spot in the division than Bisping, but his rise back into title contention after getting shut down by Georges St-Pierre at UFC 87 was a thing of beauty. Fitch rattled off six straight fights without a loss in the UFC prior to fighting Johny Hendricks at UFC 141, and was finally getting within range of St-Pierre after going three straight years without a loss.

    Unfortunately for the AKA team member, he was knocked out cold by a big punch from Hendricks just seconds into the fight and will now face another long road back to the title.

3. Brian Stann and Vitor Belfort

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    The middleweight division hasn’t been the most competitive over the last decade, but due to guys like Vitor Belfort and Brian Stann coming in and knocking out top contenders on their way up the divisional ladder, the 185-lb. pool of contenders as been a lot more exciting as of late.

    Sadly, both of these middleweight knockout artists have suffered an injury as of late, and as a result two separate UFC main events have been scrapped.

    Belfort spent the last few months in Brazil, coaching the inaugural season of The Ultimate Fighter in the country against Wanderlei Silva, all leading up to what was supposed to be their rematch at UFC 147.

    A broken hand forced Belfort out of the rematch, but hopefully a quick recovery will follow and the fight will eventually happen.

    While Belfort’s fight against Silva was anticipated amongst fans, Brian Stann’s main event fight against former Bellator champion Hector Lombard had people salivating at the guaranteed slugfest that was to follow.

    Stann and Lombard were set to headline the UFC on FOX 4 card in August in a bout that would have introduced both fighters to the world but could have made Stann a star.

    With his war hero credentials and exciting fighting style, Stann truly had a chance to become a star if he would have been able to fight Lombard on network television, but sadly it wasn’t meant to be.

2. Jose Aldo

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    The UFC featherweight champion is one of the most exciting fighters in the sport and is quickly moving his way into the discussion for best fighter in the world, but his injury didn’t hurt the UFC quite as bad as it could have.

    The UFC 149 card that Aldo was set to headline was already in serious trouble due to Silva, Alves, Bisping and Shogun Rua all being pulled from the lineup, and Aldo’s title fight against Erik Koch wasn’t exactly setting the world on fire in the eyes of casual fans.

    Obviously, any time you lose a fighter of Aldo’s caliber it is going to seriously hurt your event, but the lack of serious challengers at featherweight has fans hoping for top lightweights to drop a weight class just to give Aldo a tough fight.

    Koch probably hasn’t done enough to earn a shot at the belt, but with Aldo’s only other viable option at the moment being Chan Sung Jung it wouldn’t be surprising if this fight were moved to a card later in the year.

1. Dominick Cruz

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    The first victim of the UFC’s crazy run of injuries was also the worst.

    Dominick Cruz may not be ranked as high as his featherweight counterpart in Jose Aldo, but his fight against Urijah Faber was one of the most anticipated bouts of the year and even had an entire season of The Ultimate Fighter Live meant to build it up.

    However, in the latter half of the 13-week filming process, Cruz ended up blowing out his knee in training and will be forced from action for the foreseeable future.

    The Cruz-Faber rivalry runs deep, as both fighters have a genuine dislike for one another and have split their two fights at one apiece over the course of their careers.

    The second fight between the two was a very close decision at UFC 132 last July, where Faber felt he did enough to earn the win despite the judges scorecards leaning towards “The Dominator."

    The fight between Cruz and Faber is really the only big-time fight the UFC can make in the bantamweight division, and despite the injury to Cruz the fight is likely going to be made eventually, but it will have far less hype behind it than if they would have fought this July.