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Following Main Event Falling Out, UFC 196 Downgraded to ‘Fight Night 82′

(Ba-dow bum, bum, bum, another one bites the dust…)

The injury-forced withdrawals of both Cain Velasquez and Fabricio Werdum from UFC 196 presented the UFC with a peculiar, if not unfamiliar scenario, and left many fans wondering what magic the promotion still had up its sleeve after all these years. Would Dana & Co. book a freakish but totally watchable fight to serve in its place, ala UFC 153? Would they bring Ben Rothwell in to save the day, ala what they should have done with Fight Night 76? Or would they throw their hands in the air and outright cancel the event, ala UFC 176? The options were literally limitless.

As it turns out, however, the UFC went and pulled a rabbit out of its hat that not many of us saw coming, bumping up the co-main event between Johny Hendricks and Stephen Thompson to main event status and shifting the card from its previous pay-per-view spot to the totally free (depending on your cable package) Fox Sports 1 network instead.

“A non-Fight Night, numbered UFC event on free TV? What madness is this?!” we cried with a mix of astonishment and jubilation. It was an unprecedented move, to be sure, and one that unfortunately was too good to be true…

On a name basis, at least (you like that misdirection? SEO 101, babayy!!). Because while UFC 196′s card will still air on FS1 next Saturday as promised, it has officially been downgraded to “Fight Night 82,” per Bloody Elbow.

The UFC announced that the Super Bowl weekend show has been rebranded as UFC Fight Night: Hendricks vs. Thompson, as if it were a normal Fox Sports 1 card all along. The main card bout order has been upped to six fights (with the addition of Mike Pyle vs. Sean Spencer and Misha Cirkunov vs. Alex Nicholson) to fill the three-hour broadcast, and Hendricks vs. Thompson has been elevated from three rounds to five.

Ooh boy, Johny “Steakhouse” Hendricks in a suddenly-upgraded five-rounder? Does the UFC not realize that having this man make weight is struggle enough? “Bigg Rigg” just had to close down his restaurant, dammit, heĀ is stressed out as it is!

As a result of the Fight Night shuffle, UFC 197: McGregor vs. Dos Anjos has now been changed to UFC 196: McIlroy vs. Dos Santos. It doesn’t make sense to us either, you guys, but we’ll be damned if we’re going to say so publicly and risk being called a goof by The Baldfather on Twitter. That’s the final kiss of death for any once-mid-level-but-now-something-slightly-less-than MMA blog!

The current lineup for UFC 196 Fight Night 82 is below.

MAIN CARD (FOX Sports 1, 10 p.m. ET)
-Johny Hendricks vs. Stephen Thompson
-Roy Nelson vs. Jared Rosholt
-Rafael Cavalcante vs. Ovince Saint Preux
-Joseph Benavidez vs. Zach Makovsky
-Misha Cirkunov vs. Alex Nicholson
-Mike Pyle vs. Sean Spencer

PRELIMINARY CARD (FOX Sports 1, 8 p.m. ET)
-Josh Burkman vs. K.J. Noons
-Damian Grabowski vs. Derrick Lewis
-Ray Borg vs. Justin Scoggins
-Noad Lahat vs. Diego Rivas

PRELIMINARY CARD (UFC Fight Pass, 7 p.m. ET)
-Mickey Gall vs. Mike Jackson
-Artem Lobov vs. Alex White

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