When UFC 149 was first announced, fans immediately cited it as one of the summer's most anticipated fight cards. With UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo vs. Erik Koch as the headliner, who could've blamed them?
Names like Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Mauricio "Shogun" Rua, Yoshihiro Akiyama, Thiago Alves, and others only helped to further fill out a spectacular fight card that made many fans so glad that the UFC finally decided to put on a show in Calgary.
But then, something happened.
Specifically, injuries happened—and along with a potential barnburner between Akiyama and Alves—the injury bug cost the card its headliner, as Aldo was forced out with an injury early last month. From there, injuries plagued the card further, claiming Claude "The Prince" Patrick as its latest victim and leaving an opening for Brian Ebersole to face James Head.
The casualty count for this card reads something like a who's who, but the losses to the card have drawn away from something that MMA fans have forgotten completely: which is that this card still has all the potential to product an exemplary evening of top-notch mixed martial arts action despite the tremendous amount of injuries dealt to this event.
Is it a bit of a bummer that Calgary has to lose out on the long-awaited Aldo vs. Koch bout? It absolutely is, but the fact of the matter is that good fights are good fights, and every fight on this card has something for everybody to enjoy.
Of course, Urijah Faber vs. Renan Barao for the UFC interim bantamweight championship is not the title fight many expected to see on this card, but who is to say that it cannot deliver the same electric masterpiece that many hoped to see out of Aldo vs. Koch?
Who says Hector Lombard and Tim Boetsch cannot bring out a scintillating middleweight showdown, or that Shawn Jordan cannot expect to last long with the likes of Cheick Kongo in a bout at least worth mentioning?
What about underrated fights like Matt Riddle vs. Chris Clements or even the FX-only bout featuring TUF 11 alumni Nick Ring and Court McGee? Do fights like these count for anything in terms of bouts that promise to make UFC 149 a memorable and potentially successful debut in Calgary?
Nobody's saying that we should all act as though UFC 149 has gone off without any complications, because even yours truly can recall a true "Card of The Year" contender existing in what the UFC had planned at UFC 149—before all of these injuries occurred. However, let's be fair to this card and cut it a little bit of slack, because after all, it is the first show in Calgary and fans will eventually call for more shows in the city, regardless of how this one turns out.
That's just it, though—we don't know how this card will turn out because it hasn't happened yet. If the adage of 2011 holds any merit in a 2012 plagued with injuries, then no fan should subject this card to the "failure" label before it goes down tonight. It may not provide the action many thought they'd get to see, but they're still going to get to see the sport in which they confide and believe in right in their own backyard.
Besides, isn't it true that the fight cards that never look all that great are more-often-than-not the fight cards that we rank among the greatest ever? If so, then let UFC 149 come and deliver in the ways in which the MMA world believes it will flop.
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