How many UFC fights need to be ruined by injuries?
Regardless of whether fighter insurance or growing MMA camps are to blame, the problem is the same. Every time a main event falls apart, UFC president Dana White and matchmaker Joe Silva are left to scramble to find decent replacements.
But with so many more UFC cards on FOX, FX, Fuel TV, and PPV, those replacements are getting harder and harder to find.
So how do you prevent catastrophes like the UFC 151 debacle from happening?
It's simple. Schedule alternate fighters for main and co-main events.
Even if the UFC doesn't have to make it public, the promotion needs to double up on their scheduling and have certain fighters training on "stand-by" for worst-case scenarios.
Imagine how differently the failed Jon Jones vs. Dan Henderson situation would have been if the UFC had the foresight to sign Lyoto Machida or Chael Sonnen to actual "alternate" contracts, ensuring that they would be able to step in for either fighter in case of injury.
Sure, that's extra pressure on the main carder who isn't injured, as he has to switch up training halfway through camp—but the alternate fighter doesn't have an advantage either.
In essence, they're training for an unknown opponent, and they'll have no idea if (or when) someone will turn up injured. Everyone has to do a little more planning on the fly, but isn't that better than roughly 20 other fighters being out of work and thousands of fans getting the short end of the stick?
Plus, what if the alternate fighters were already known to the public?
At the very least, that might prevent some backlash from fans if they knew in advance that an injury might result in better (or more interesting) matchups.
Take the upcoming Georges St. Pierre vs. Carlos Condit title fight, for example.
If either one is injured, the card might be sunk, or could suffer a huge PPV drop. But what if fans knew that Nick Diaz or Josh Kosheck was waiting on deck just in case something happened to either belt holder?
UFC 151 cost Zuffa upwards of $40 million. It can't cost anywhere near that much to contract a few more big-name fighters to stand in for an emergency.
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