If there's one thing I've learned from today's big news that UFC 151 was canceled due to an injury to Dan Henderson, it's this: The promotion has to run fewer events.
With each passing year, the UFC has scheduled more and more events. In the old days—by which I mean just a few years ago—you'd perhaps see one pay-per-view a month, with three or four free events per year on Spike.
Nowadays, it's much different. Between UFC pay-per-views and the free events televised on Fuel, FX and FOX, there are sometimes months with fight events scheduled two or three weeks in a row. Toss in the Zuffa-owned Strikeforce events, and it's simply fight overload.
It's obviously a bad deal for the fans. There aren't a lot of people with the kind of disposable income that allows them to spend $120 a month or more on pay-per-view events. It forces you to make a decision, to choose which event you want to spend your money on, and that means one event or the other is going to take a hit. It's inevitable.
It also means fans are simply overloaded with fights. Between the pay per view, television broadcasts and Facebook fights, the UFC is asking their fans to spend five to eight hours of their day in front of the computer or the television, and they're asking them to do it multiple times per month. For the hardcore fan, this is the perfect scenario. They're going to watch the fights, and they're going to love every second of it.
But for the casual fan, it's simply too much. You can't ask them to dedicate that much of their time watching fights that, for them, may not hold much intrigue.
But the most important drawback to inundating your schedule with fight cards is the hit it makes on your talent pool.
The UFC is obviously suffering from an injury crisis. You can blame it on the health care policy Zuffa instituted over a year ago if you want, and I wouldn't argue with you if you did. Injuries are obviously going to happen and happen at a breakneck pace, which means you need a deep talent pool to draw from when seeking replacements for those injured fighters.
When you're running multiple cards per month, that pool is going to be severely depleted. Instead of a decent selection of name fighters to take the place of the injured, you're forced to go with the best available. That's why Chael Sonnen was asked to step in against Jon Jones in the first place; he'd never get that opportunity if Zuffa didn't require a last-ditch effort to save UFC 151 because he hasn't earned it. But he was the only option.
I love watching fights. I'd never be in the position I'm in today, writing about this sport on a full-time basis, if I hadn't fallen in love with fighting a long time ago. I'm one of those dudes who will watch any kind of fight he can get his hands on; I can't tell you the number of times I've woken up in the middle of the night to watch a live stream of a foreign fight card.
But even though I love watching fights, I still recognize that we're being overwhelmed with content from the UFC, and it's causing major issues. I'm hoping that the cancellation of UFC 151 forces the UFC to take a step back and analyze their schedule, to put a rein on things, before it gets too far out of control.
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