The UFC has pulled off some major coups recently.
The acquisition of Strikeforce springs immediately to mind as does the company warding off the WWE’s advances on Brock Lesnar, instead convincing the former heavyweight champion to appear as a coach on “The Ultimate Fighter” earlier this year. Also impressive was the UFC’s quick and agile response to Rashad Evans’ injury back in February, when it shocked the MMA community by offering Jon Jones a title shot in the cage after his win at UFC 126.
Sometimes it feels like the UFC is at its best when it has to improvise. Like the world’s largest MMA promotion is able to continually make magic out of mishap and misfortune. Unfortunately, this week was not one of those times.
Just 20 days out from UFC 130, the company’s next pay-per-view offering took a serious hit on Monday when UFC president Dana White confirmed to NBC Sports that the proposed lightweight title rematch between Frankie Edgar and Gray Maynard was scrapped after both were injured in training. The fact that their third meeting must now be rescheduled for fall is disappointing for fans and the fighters alike.
That this time the UFC wasn’t able to just reload with a different, equally compelling matchup will no doubt hurt UFC 130’s bottom line, too, though it wasn’t for lack of trying.
Reports out this week indicate that former WEC champion Anthony Pettis was initially offered the opportunity to step in against Maynard when word began to trickle out that Edgar had injured his ribs. Pettis says he jumped at the chance, but was quickly remanded back to his originally scheduled fight against Clay Guida when it was revealed Maynard couldn’t make the date either, owing to a knee injury.
“I said yes to that deal right away,” Pettis told Heavy.com of being offered a fight with Maynard. “I guess it turns out that it’s not going to happen. I’m back to fighting Guida. It sucks that (Maynard and Edgar) got injured, because it kind of puts the whole lightweight division back on standstill.”
Indeed, conventional wisdom says Pettis will still get the winner of Edgar-Maynard if he manages to defeat Guida at the “TUF 13” finale in June, but now the timetable for that potential title shot is moved back to at least early 2012. While installing him into an immediate bout against Maynard wouldn’t have had the promotional benefit of a title fight, it could have been adequately built up as a grudge match. Maynard had some choice words about Pettis in a recent interview, questioning the 24-year-old up-and-comer’s 14-fight resume.
Alas, it was not to be. That leaves Quinton “Rampage” Jackson’s light heavyweight bout with Matt Hamill and Frank Mir’s heavyweight fight against Roy Nelson as UFC 130’s co-main events. While each is interesting in its own right, neither will draw eyeballs (or PPV money) like the third meeting between Maynard and Edgar.
UFC President Dana White (above) embarrassed after Gray Maynard beat Clay Guida by split decision to win a lightweight bout and the main event of the UFC card in Atlantic City.
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