UFC Fight Cards: Does It Ever Make Sense to Scrap an Entire Show?

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UFC Fight Cards: Does It Ever Make Sense to Scrap an Entire Show?
Michael Cohen/Getty Images

The cancellation of UFC 151 proved that the show needn’t necessarily go on. But it raises an important question: under what circumstances could it be deemed acceptable to abort an entire show?

These are some harrowing times for the UFC and its fans. No longer can we argue that this is simply a passing storm. Instead, we must accept that MMA has some deep-rooted issues that must be addressed.

Until the sport’s problems are remedied, the potential for future event cancellations looms overhead. Indeed, some fans recently questioned the sense in going through with UFC 153 after it had been decimated by injuries.

I briefly considered listing all of the changes forced upon the card, but soon realized that it would be tedious and boring, both for you to read and for me to write. Suffice to say, the changes were so significant that even a portion of the MMA fanbase wanted Dana White to take the event out back and shoot it.

With a reaction so seemingly at odds with the furore surrounding the decision to cancel UFC 151, one must ask whether the UFC really should have just cut their losses.

Instinctively, it is tempting to suggest that the show must always go on unless it absolutely cannot be salvaged. People underestimate the kind of collateral damage caused by the cancellation of an entire fight card. We are not just talking about the fighters missing out on a much-needed paycheck.

One must also consider the loss of earnings for employees in general, the millions in marketing and revenue the UFC must forego, the potential economic impact that the chosen city will lose out on, not to mention disappointing the thousands of fans who have committed to attending the show.

Now, let’s weigh all that with the fans’ bellyaching over the decision to go forward with what they perceive to be a substandard fight card. They get to watch Anderson Silva take on Stephan Bonnar instead of Jose Aldo vs. Frankie Edgar.

It's not ideal, but who can really complain when they are offered the opportunity to watch the sport’s greatest ever exponent? Knowing that I would get to witness a bonus performance from Anderson Silva went some way to alleviating my disappointment.

That aside, I have recently wondered what it would take for me to actually agree with any decision to cancel a fight card.

First of all, the event would have to undergo some major changes. And even then, a refund may be the best option.

Secondly, and more importantly, there must be problems with the venue. Think UFC 147: the United Nations came to town, leaving organizers with only one or two weeks’ notice to find a suitable substitute venue.

Thirdly, the anticipation of safety issues would be sufficient cause to cancel or postpone an event. Think this year’s US Open at Flushing Meadows.

I’m sure there are more obscure reasons I could list, but the above circumstances—perhaps in combination with each other— would be sufficient to cancel an event.

Put simply, cancelling an entire show is not something that should be taken lightly. The least of the UFC’s concerns should be whether the main event is underwhelming. That is why they deserve the lion’s share of the blame for the preposterous decision to euthanize UFC 151.

If you really think that Dana White and Co. should have taken similarly drastic action in the case of UFC 153, you either haven’t given the issue enough thought or you are too narcissistic to care about the consequences of such a decision.

Either way, in three weeks’ time I will enjoy watching Anderson Silva do what he does best.

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