Prepare for plenty of confusion ahead as the UFC have decided to change the name of UFC 196 on February 6th to UFC Fight Night 82 which will have a knock-on effect on all their other upcoming events.
The switch comes after the event was moved from pay-per-view to FOX Sports 1 after heavyweight title headliners Fabricio Werdum and Cain Velasquez both pulled out of their fight due to injuries.
The originally scheduled co-main event between Johny Hendricks and Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson has since been pushed up to the headline spot on the card, but that wasn’t deemed worthy of a $50-60 PPV card, or it seems of fronting a numbered UFC show.
It does make sense to do so as the UFC’s numbered shows are supposed to be premium cards that are worthy of the hefty pricetag that’s attached to them and there’s not been one that’s been broadcast live on TV since UFC 138 back in 2011.
The promotion have been on a good run lately with a series of stacked, money-spinning PPV events, so if they’d ran with UFC 196 as it is it would have stood out like a sore thumb as being an inferior product.
On the other hand, it does now cause a huge headache when it comes to the naming of all their other upcoming events.
For example, the company have already been heavily promoting UFC 197 in March, their next blockbuster card featuring a title double-bill as lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos fights Conor McGregor and Holly Holm makes her first title defense against Miesha Tate.
However, from this point forward that event will now be known as UFC 196: Dos Anjos Vs McGregor instead, a fact that’s sure to leave the UFC’s marketing department tearing their hair out.
Looking further ahead things get even more complicated when you consider that would mean that UFC 200 on July 9th in Las Vegas, which takes place during the company’s annual International Fight Week celebrations and is set to be the debut event at the brand new T-Mobile Stadium, would now become UFC 199 instead.
With that in mind there’s a growing belief now that the UFC will look to somehow squeeze another pay-per-view event in sometime between now and July 9th which would ensure that UFC 200 still remains intact on July 9th.
Where will they get the fighters to fill out such a card though? The plan has always been to stack UFC 200 with high-profile bouts to celebrate the occasion and try to surpass UFC 100’s all-time record 1.6 million pay-per-view buys, but that would thin the talent pool available to choose from for this newly formed event.
The one bit of good news is that there does still appear to be enough room on the calendar for the UFC to fit in this new PPV event. As it stands only what is now known as UFC 197 is currently scheduled for April 23rd. This is the show many think will feature the light-heavyweight title rematch between Daniel Cormier and Jon Jones which the promotion had hoped to host in New York City, but are now looking to place somewhere else.
So, presumably the as yet unannounced UFC 198 event will take place in May, perhaps during Memorial Day Weekend, and then UFC 199 in June.
In-between April 23rd and July 9th there’s only three other events officially announced at this stage: UFC Fight Night 87 in Holland on May 8th, UFC Fight Night 88: Belfort Vs Jacare in Brazil on May 14th, and the TUF 23 Finale on July 8th.
No doubt the UFC has other ‘Fight Night’ events planned during that period, particularly in June which is essentially a blank slate at this stage, but since they’ve not announced anything officially they may look to cut back on the schedule slightly in order to give them more fighters to choose from for the extra PPV show.
It’s all just speculation at this stage though and it will be interesting to see how the UFC digs themselves out of this hole over the next few months.