UFC Fight Night 97 in the Philippines next weekend has been canceled after main event star BJ Penn pulled out injured.
Penn had been lined up to make his latest comeback against Ricardo Lamas at the top of the show, but the Hawaiian has confirmed that he suffered a rib injury that left him with no option but to pull out of the fight.
That left the the UFC with just a week and a half to make alternative arrangements, and due to the lack of star power on the card that proved to be too difficult a problem to overcome.
For example, the co-main event of the evening was supposed to be a heavyweight clash between Derrick Lewis and Marcin Tybura, which just isn’t suitable for main event honors, and the only other fight of any note whatsoever was Cole Miller Vs Mizuto Hirota.
So, the UFC really had no option but to cancel a card for only the third time in their long history (the others being UFC 151 and UFC 176).
The good news for the fighters is that they’ll still be paid their show money for the event, and will now be rebooked for future shows, though potentially they’ll not face the same opponents next time out.
This is a costly mishap for the UFC, but hopefully it will serve as a timely reminder to the head honchos that putting on weak, watered-down cards, with only one high-profile fight is not a good idea.
It has felt like the company has overstretched in recent months, as we’re only just now reaching the conclusion of what was supposed to be a nine week run featuring an event each weekend.
With a relentless schedule like that it’s inevitable that some of the cards are going to suffer quality-wise, and UFC Fight Night 97 was a prime example of that.
If the UFC have learned any lessons from this, they won’t be put into practice just yet as the calendar for the remainder of 2016 has already been drawn up, and features a seven week stretch in the lead up to Christmas in which they’ll attempt to shoehorn in no less than nine events.