In mixed martial arts, certain phenomena are so enormous that it encapsulates the entire year. 2009 was the year of epic expansion. 2010 was the year of the heavyweights. 2011 was the year of Jon Jones. Regardless of the action that happens inside the cage, there is little question that 2012 will go down as the year of the injury plague.
From top to bottom, nearly every card put on by the UFC has been affected by the bug. Everything from curtain jerkers to main events have fallen to the wayside, and it's been enough to cancel events and leave fans ripping out their hair.
Here is a look at the 30 biggest fights that have been cancelled in 2012 due to injury.
UFC 142 was the UFC's return trip to Brazil, headlined by a title fight between Jose Aldo and Chad Mendes. Headlining the FX portion of the show was to be an exciting scrap between power punchers who don't know how to quit, Paulo Thiago and Mike Pyle.
Thiago was forced from the contest in mid-December due to an elbow injury, giving the UFC approximately three weeks to find a replacement.
The fight that actually happened was Mike Pyle vs. Ricardo Funch, which saw Pyle victorious via first-round knockout.
UFC 142 isn't done yet with welterweight troubles. The Brazilian card lost a very intriguing bout between Erick Silva and Siyar Bahadurzada, who were both entering the bout as white-hot prospects.
Bahadurzada was forced from the bout on December 16, the same date that it was reported that Paulo Thiago was removed from the same card.
This is the only fight on the list that I'm happy got scrapped. With both Badhadurzada and Silva being future contenders in the division, I thought it was a mistake to guarantee that one would lose momentum so early into their UFC career.
Silva would instead murder Carlo Prater in only 30 seconds, although he was controversially disqualified for a sole strike to the back of the head. Silva came out of the contest looking like gold after Joe Rogan put referee Mario Yamasaki on the spot and questioned him about the ruling in the post-fight interview.
After being knocked out by Johny Hendricks, former No. 1 contender Jon Fitch saw a tremendous drop in status. Despite headlining two pay-per-views and spending the last few years as the highest regarded welterweight other than GSP, Fitch was relegated to a FUEL TV card against Aaron Simpson.
This fight was scrapped when Fitch suffered a knee injury and was forced to bow out of the contest. Simpson instead met Kenny Robertson and would go on to win a unanimous decision.
Fitch looks for his first win in more than two years when he meets Erick Silva at UFC 153.
It has not been easy for George Sotiropoulos to get cage time ever since his knockout loss to Rafael dos Anjos in July of 2011. Without a scheduled bout until mid-November, Sotiropoulos was booked in an interesting bout with former PRIDE star Takanori Gomi.
Forced out of a February contest with one month's notice, Gomi would meet underwhelming replacement Eiji Mitsuoka and score a TKO victory in Japan.
Meanwhile, Sotiropoulos is still out of action and will meet Ross Pearson in December.
Heading into UFC 146, there was only one fight on the main card that had not been shuffled due to Alistair Overeem and his failed drug test. That is, until one week before the event when Mark Hunt was removed from the card due to injury.
Hunt vs. Struve was expected to give a large boost to either man. Struve is a finishing machine who was coming off the momentum of victories against Pat Barry and Dave Herman, while the "Super Samoan" had just knocked out Cheick Kongo and won a tough battle against Ben Rothwell.
Hunt vs. Struve became Struve vs. Lavar Johnson, and the "Skyscraper" finished his short-notice opponent with an armbar in the first part of Round 1.
Finding an opponent for Ultimate Fighter winner Tony Ferguson is apparently easier said than done. The third time was ultimately the charm for Joe Silva, as original opponent Dennis Hallman and replacement Thiago Tavares were both bitten by the injury bug.
Thankfully, Tavares withdrew with five weeks left before the fight, so a suitable replacement was found with enough time for an acceptable fight camp.
Ultimately, Ferguson would battle Blackzilians fighter Michael Johnson on the undercard of UFC on Fox 3, and would suffer the first loss of his UFC career.
This is the second cancelled fight for Dunham this year, as a bout with Paul Sass was originally scheduled for UFC on Fox 2 in January. At UFC 146, Dunham was once again forced out of an exciting affair.
Although the all-heavyweight booking strategy forced this lightweight affair onto the undercard, this fight was expected to be a war. Both Dunham and Barboza have a tendency to pull out Fight of the Night awards.
One man's bad luck is another man's good fortune, as Barboza would meet former WEC champion Jamie Varner, who would shock the world and defeat the Brazilian via TKO in the first round. Varner had previously been dismissed from his Zuffa contract after losses in the WEC.
Longtime veterans of the sport Antonio Minotauro Nogueira and Cheick Kongo were once a centerpiece of the once-excellent UFC 149 card. Unfortunately, that event would be tragically scarred by the injury bug, and the victim in this instance was Big Nog himself.
Both men were coming off of disappointing losses in the first round. Kongo had just suffered the first KO loss of his career at the hands of Mark Hunt, while Nogueira was shockingly submitted by Frank Mir at UFC 140 in December.
Kongo would meet Shawn Jordan on the event, and the action (if you can call it that) was a lackluster affair to say the least. The Frenchman would escape with the win, but fans were likely asleep by the time the scorecards were read.
Tony Ferguson wasn't the only fighter with trouble keeping an opponent this summer. At UFC 150, Yushin Okami planned to leave the two-fight skid that threatened his place in the middleweight division. However, after both Luiz Cane and replacement Rousimar Palhares were forced out of the contest, there weren't many options left.
Thankfully for Okami, preliminary fighter Buddy Roberts was available after his opponent, Chris Camozzi, was forced off of the same card due to an injury. The two met on the main card and Okami showed the world why he once fought for a world title while Roberts was scheduled to be on the prelims.
Neither Luiz Cane or Rousimar Palhares have returned to the cage, but the latter is scheduled to face Hector Lombard in December. Cane will meet Camozzi at UFC 153 on October 13.
Originally scheduled as Matt Hamill vs. Roger Hollett, the UFC 152 bout would be rebooked as Hamill vs. longtime veteran Vladimir Matyushenko when a contract issue with Hollett's former employer threatened his availability to compete.
Hamill vs. Matyushenko was a much more marketable bout, as both men are notables within the light heavyweight division. Unfortunately, the fight never took place. The fighter from Belarus tore his achilles tendon in training and was unable to compete.
Hamill vs. Hollett was rebooked, and was a dreadful three round affair in which Hamill gassed out early and Hollett proved that he does not possess the skills worthy of a UFC contract.
This is the fight that was replaced more times than I wish to count. Let's go over the chain of fighters and replacements.
- Thiago Alves vs. Yoshihiro Akiyama - Akiyama out due to injury
- Thiago Alves vs. Siyar Bahadurzada - Alves out due to injury
- Siyar Bahadurzada vs. Chris Clements - Bahadurzada out due to injury
- Chris Clements vs. Matt Riddle - bout won by Matt Riddle
The first two fights were exciting battles that would be sure-fire Fight of the Night contenders. Unfortunately, once Chris Clements was introduced into the mix, fan interest rapidly dropped.
Matt Riddle vs. Chris Clements was the fight that actually took place, and it was a far cry from the original barn-burners we were promised, although it did have a spectacular arm-triangle finish.
Yet another fight from the UFC 149 card that fell to the wayside. Shogun Rua is a muay thai wrecking machine who can stand and bang with the best in the world. So when he was scheduled to meet a man with similar credentials, every hardcore fan on the planet began to drool with anticipation.
Unfortunately, Silva was the victim of the injury bug and Shogun was pulled from the card altogether.
Rua would score a TKO victory over Brandon Vera as the headliner for UFC on Fox 4. Silva will meet Stanislov Nedkov on November 10 in Macau.
The hits keep on coming for UFC 149. In fact, the card might just be the most plagued in the history of the sport.
Once a member of the UFC 148 card, Michael Bisping vs. Tim Boetsch was moved to UFC 149 in hopes of strengthening a card that was impacted by injuries. Ironically enough, Michael Bisping was injured in training, and this fight was also cancelled.
Tim Boetsch remained on the card, and he battled promotional newcomer Hector Lombard, winning via controversial split decision. Bisping returned at UFC 152 to fight Brian Stann.
Did you think I was done with UFC 149? I wish.
Title fights are certainly not immune to the injury plague. A featherweight championship bout between Jose Aldo and Erik Koch was originally scheduled to headline the event, but the bout was postponed for UFC 153 when Aldo suffered an injury and needed to withdraw.
The replacement bout will also not take place, as Koch was injured in early September and forced to pull out.
After both men kicked off 2012 with tremendous victories, a UFC on Fox 4 battle between heavyweights Travis Browne and Ben Rothwell was an exciting booking that was guaranteed to end in violent fashion.
Rothwell knocked out Brendan Schaub at UFC 145, while Browne dominated Chad Griggs en route to an arm-triangle finish. Both men would win "of the Night" honors for their feats.
When "Big Ben" was forced out due to injury, the fight was scrapped entirely. Browne meets Bigfoot Silva on Friday night, while Rothwell has yet to book a new fight.
Promotional newcomer and longtime Top 10 fighter Hector Lombard was scheduled to make his Octagon debut in the main event of UFC on Fox 4. The man standing across the cage from the Bellator champion would be American Marine, Brian Stann.
The fight promised to be an interesting affair, as questions circled the legitimacy of both men and their ranking within the division.
Unfortunately for fans, Stann would be forced to withdraw, and Lombard would be moved into a UFC 149 bout instead. Ironically, Lombard would also get injured, but decided to fight through his affliction rather than delay his debut any longer.
Lombard lost via controversial split decision.
Not all of the changes to the UFC 146 card were bad. Sure, we lost Alistair Overeem vs. Junior dos Santos, as well as Cain Velasquez vs. Frank Mir. However, one of the replacement fights created during the shift included a very intriguing fight between Roy Nelson and Gabriel Gonzaga.
Gonzaga was a former title challenger who left the organization after losses to Junior dos Santos and Brendan Schaub. He is best known for his epic head kick knockout of Mirko Cro Cop.
The fight would have been Gonzaga's second fight back with the organization after a pillaging of Ednaldo Olivera on the preliminary portion of UFC 142. Unfortunately, he was injured in training and Dave Herman was the lackluster replacement who filled in.
Nelson won the bout via first-round knockout.
Thiago Silva absolutely dominated Brandon Vera in their first fight. Through the three-round affair, he smashed in Vera's nose, as well as humiliated him by playing the air drums while in back mount.
That's not a cute way of saying that he was throwing punches from on top. Silva actually began pantomiming that he was playing drums instead of fighting his opponent.
When the post-fight urinalysis for came back inconsistent with human urine, it quickly became clear that Silva had something to hide. Silva owned up to the charge, and a rematch was booked to give Vera the opportunity to avenge himself.
Unfortunately, Vera was forced to pull out of the contest when he suffered an undisclosed injury in training.
Despite several instances of the coaches' fight being postponed due to injury, only once in Ultimate Fighter history has a tournament finalist been injured between winning the semi-final contest and the tournament's finale.
Finalist Daniel Sarafian was a favorite to win The Ultimate Fighter: Brasil, but his hopes of winning the show were cut down when he was injured while training for the finale.
Many would assume that the tournament final would be postponed to crown a winner, however, that was not the case. The tournament was concluded with Cezar Ferreira facing semi-finalist Sergio Moraes instead.
Ferreira won the tournament, but he did not defeat the man who should have stood across from him for the title. Maybe the two will meet on a future card.
The original headlining bout for UFC on FUEL TV, Antonio "Lil Nog" Nogueira and Alexander Gustafsson simply wasn't meant to be.
Five weeks prior to the bout, Nogueira was forced out of the contest with a knee injury suffered in training. This is becoming a bit of a recurring theme for Nogueira, who was also forced out of a UFC 109 fight with Brandon Vera and a UFC 133 fight with Rich Franklin, both due to injury.
Gustafsson would receive Thiago Silva as a replacement and win a three round decision.
Technically, this fight wasn't canceled. Instead, a bout between welterweights BJ Penn and Rory MacDonald has been postponed from it's UFC 152 home and moved to the UFC on Fox 5 broadcast.
It was announced that MacDonald suffered a nasty gash when his training partner cut him with a spinning back fist. MacDonald received 38 stitches to his right eyebrow to close the laceration.
Penn accused MacDonald of trying to delay the bout, and tried to get to fight to go down as quickly as possible. Instead, the two will meet in December.
Rampage Jackson has one fight left on his contract. The man who Dana White decided to throw against him was none other than highly regarded light heavyweight Glover Teixeira.
Teixeira may be the product of incredible hype, but his single UFC appearance saw him brutally massacre Kyle Kingsbury in all aspects of the fight, which was stopped in the first round via submission.
On September 11, it was reported that Jackson vs. Teixeira was canceled due to an injury sustained by the former UFC champion. Teixeira remains on the card and will face Fabio Maldonado; however, there has been no announcement as to who Rampage will face next.
Mark Munoz and Chael Sonnen were both middleweight contenders looking for a crack at Anderson Silva and his championship belt. That's why their UFC on Fox 2 bout was so important for the division.
Both men have excellent wrestling, and their ground and pound is what leads to most of the their success. Munoz actually bested Sonnen in an amateur wrestling match in college, which led some to speculate that "The American Gangsta's" takedowns would be rendered useless.
Unfortunately, Munoz suffered an injury and was forced out of the contest.
This injury would also cause the cancellation of Michael Bisping vs. Demian Maia, which was scheduled as the third main event. Bisping was brought in to fight Sonnen, while Maia faced Chris Weidman.
Early in their professional careers, Vitor Belfort floored Wanderlei Silva with a stunning flurry that led to a TKO in the first minute of the opening round. After each man posted a successful career, the two were booked to meet again more than a decade later.
As coaches of The Ultimate Fighter: Brasil, they would meet on the UFC 147 card, along with the two fights that would crown tournament champions. It was to be a great night for Brazilian fans, as two fan favorites met in the evening's main event.
Unfortunately, Belfort broke his hand while training and was forced to withdraw from the contest. Rich Franklin filled in for Belfort and won a decision against Silva in the UFC 147 main event.
This fight also caused the cancellation of Rich Franklin vs. Cung Le at UFC 148, although that fight has since been moved to UFC on Fuel: Le vs Franklin.
I know. It's a UFC list, but Strikeforce is owned by the same company, and the ramifications of this fight's cancellation are large enough that it bares having a place on the list.
When Gilbert Melendez was forced out of a fight with Pat Healy, the Strikeforce Lightweight Champion left Showtime officials in a tough spot. There were no other marquee bouts on the card, nor was there a suitable replacement who could be brought in with only one weeks notice.
Showtime decided not to air the event on their network, which caused Zuffa to pull the plug on the event as a whole. It was only the second time in Zuffa's history that a show has been canceled.
OK. One more Strikeforce fight and then I'm done.
A cross-promotional bout between former UFC champion Frank Mir and Strikeforce Grand Prix winner Daniel Cormier was one of the most exciting fights that the UFC's sister company could possibly put together.
Cormier has one fight left on his deal with Showtime, and then he is eligible to enter the UFC with the rest of his former Strikeforce co-workers. What better fight than one with a former two-time world champion.
Mir was recently forced out of the fight due to a training injury and a replacement has yet to be found. Matt Mitrione turned the fight down, while Roy Nelson has volunteered to step in. Cormier has requested a fight with Pat Barry.
Two title fights on the same card? Awesome!
UFC 148 was supposed to be the biggest fight card of all time. Marquee fights filled every slot on the main card, and a pair of title fights were at the helm. That is, until Dominick Cruz tore his ACL in training and was forced out of action for at least one year.
Renan Barao was tapped as the best bantamweight replacement, and due to the extended time frame of Cruz's absence, the new bout of Faber vs. Barao would be for the interim championship.
This fight also caused the cancellation of Barao vs. Ivan Menjivar, which was originally scheduled for the same card. Barao vs. Faber would be moved to UFC 149 to make up for other cancelled fights.
September 11, 2001 is a day that Americans will never forget. September 11, 2012 is a day that Dana White wishes he could.
Within hours of each other, White received word that both his main event and co-main event for UFC 153 would have to be called off due to injuries. You have already read about Rampage Jackson and his bout with Glover Teixeira, but the superfight between Jose Aldo and Frankie Edgar is a whole other story.
Aldo was in a motorcycle accident, and although it was initially reported that he was uninjured in the crash, we later found out that the UFC Featherweight Champion injured his foot and would be unable to defend against former UFC Lightweight Champion Frankie Edgar.
Edgar was scrapped from the card in hopes of postponing this fight to a later date. The new main event is Anderson Silva vs. Stephan Bonnar in a light heavyweight contest.
Dan Henderson has won gold everywhere that he has been...except the UFC.
After monumental wins over top stars like Wanderlei Silva, Shogun Rua and Fedor Emelianenko, Henderson has been included in conversations regarding the greatest fighter in MMA history. Could he be the one to finally defeat Jon Jones?
We would never find out. Henderson was injured in the weeks leading up to the event, and originally planned on fighting through the pain. When it was determined that his motion was impacted too greatly to continue, "Hendo" pulled himself from the contest.
Jon Jones would be offered a fight with Chael Sonnen, but the champion refused. UFC 151 was canceled, and a Jones became the martyr who was "crucified" for the sake of Dana White not having to take responsibility; or at least that's what he wants you to think.
Jones was moved to UFC 152 and faced new challenger Vitor Belfort, who nearly snapped his arm with an armbar in the first round. Jones went on to win the fight.
This fight also caused the cancellation of Vitor Belfort vs. Alan Belcher, which was scheduled for UFC 153. However, Alan Belcher reported that he was injured, and saw the cancellation as a blessing in disguise.
There is little question that the biggest fight on people's minds when we entered 2012 was the epic champion vs. champion bout between UFC welterweight kingpin Georges St-Pierre and the king of controversy himself, Mr. Nick Diaz.
Diaz was the final Strikeforce champion before the organization was purchased by Zuffa, and he made his way into the Octagon having never lost the belt. In his return to the UFC, he dismantled former dual-division champion BJ Penn and called out GSP for being a coward.
Fueled by white-hot rage, GSP asked Dana White to give Nick Diaz the next title shot. It was a side of the soft-spoken champion that fans are not used to. Could it be that someone got under Georges' skin to the point where "Rush" would be off of his game?
Unfortunately, GSP aggravated an injury that also forced him out of UFC 137 and has been out of action since April of 2011.
This fight also caused the cancellation of Carlos Condit vs. Josh Koscheck, which was originally scheduled for the co-main event slot.
Maybe we will finally get to see Diaz vs. GSP in 2013 after the Stockton bad boy returns from a one-year suspension for a failed drug test.