2012 has simply been a bad year for the UFC.
The number of marquee fighters who've had to pull out of fights lately has been absurd. Every day, it seems like a new fight that fans were clamoring for has fallen through. Usually it's replaced by something that isn't even half as interesting, or it's just shelved until the fighter in question recovers.
It's part of the sport that can't be avoided. Every time it happens, Joe Silva has to scramble to find a fighter who is ready to step in on short notice. It seems like that's never easy.
There is a potential solution, however.
In tournaments, there's always reserve bouts, fights set aside in case any one of the fighters participating is incapable of going forward with the next fight.
The UFC should adopt the reserve fight.
It's a simple idea that could make finding replacements that much easier. Simply schedule a reserve fight with the condition that one of the fighters can be pulled at any time to step in for an injured fighter.
Let's take the recent UFC 151 debacle. Jon Jones fighting Dan Henderson would be the main event, obviously, but further down the card, perhaps the co-main event, would be another light heavyweight matchup. For the sake of the argument, let's say that Chael Sonnen and Forrest Griffin were fighting at UFC 151 instead of in December.
When Dan Henderson was injured, Chael Sonnen, who was already training and in shape, could be pulled from his old fight and inserted to fight Jones.
Setting up the reserve fight would be easy as well. High-profile fights come with the following stipulation: "In case your opponent is injured, you will be fighting Fighter X." The reserve bout would have the same condition, only stating that the fighter in question could be called up at any time.
And having a potential opponent as a reserve is helpful for everyone involved. Since they'd know who the replacement opponent would be in case of injury, they could set aside time to game-plan and train for them. Thus, we wouldn't have the "well, he did poorly cause he didn't plan for this guy" excuse.
Is this system without flaw? Certainly not, but what alternative is there? Just waiting for the main event to fall through and find someone, anyone, who is willing to fight and put them opposite the champ?
This is a contingency plan, and it's possibly the best way to make good of a commonly-occurring bad situation.
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