By Andreas Georgiou
It won’t really come as a surprise that yet another injury in the UFC has left fans scratching their heads on why there are so many fighters having to pull out of key fights in 2014.
The news broke earlier today that Cain Velasquez is out of his heavyweight title defence against Fabricio Werdum at UFC 180. A right knee injury has forced the dominant world champion out of the bout, but instead Mark Hunt will step up and face Werdum for the interim-strap.
Let’s not forget that there have already been two high profile injuries this year, with Jon Jones suffering from a torn left meniscus, which forced his highly touted fight with Daniel Cormier to be pushed back to January 3rd of next year.
Another problem for the UFC is Chris Weidman having to pull out of his fight with Vitor Belfort at UFC 181. That was a potential big money show for the promotion, but yet again faltered by injury.
Factor this in with Georges St-Pierre likely not returning till mid-2015 after an ACL ailment; however he is now able to start training again, then it shows the UFC losing a lot of top draws through this process.
Last year in the UFC alone, there were 101 injuries that kept fighters off events, the most significant including: Michael Bisping’s eye, Conor McGregor’s ACL, Cat Zingano’s knee and of course Anderson Silva’s leg break.
So in 2014 why are fighters still getting injured and causing the UFC a lot of problems. The truth is, in the modern era of MMA, fighters have to train harder than ever to keep up with the ever-evolving sport. The athletes coming into the sport right now are progressing as true mixed martial artists. Gone are the days where solely a background in jiu-jitsu, wrestling or kickboxing actually commended credibility.
The main question is how are these injuries effecting the growth of the UFC? Well, it’s very hard to gage the actual reality of that. For the high profile fighters who were put on the sidelines, it has meant that often this year, the UFC have lacked any true PPV stars. However that can also be factored into their inability to create new figures instead of relying on Conor McGregor to do it single handily.
Of course, injuries mean fans don’t get to see the fights they want, and may in fact alienate them from the product, but it seems to come hand in hand with MMA now. Card subject to change has never meant for than it has right now, but with the UFC’s continual roster growth, it seems to be becoming less of a problem in terms of finding someone hungry enough to step up and fill the void.
If you want to look at the positives, injuries mean that at the beginning of 2015, we get to see Cat Zingano take on Ronda Rousey, Jon Jones clash with true rival Daniel Cormier and Anderson Silva clash with Nick Diaz in a superfight within a month. Maybe injuries aren’t that bad?