One week ago, Ben published an article voicing concerns over how weak UFC 151′s main card was. But it was cool, because Jon Jones vs. Dan Henderson was going to be such an awesome fight. Two days ago, Jones vs. Henderson was scrapped and UFC 151 was canceled. [Ed. note: Damn, two days? Feels like we've been covering this forever.] Even though most of us acknowledged that the cancellation of the event was at least partially due to the garbage-assness of pretty much the entire card, we were too busy talking about Jon Jones ducking Chael Sonnen/Sonnen attempting to troll his way into an immediate title shot (depending on which side of the fence you’re on) to really delve into the issue. But now that the UFC has started to transplant the canceled UFC 151 fights to other cards, it’s time to take a closer look at that issue for a moment.
The bouts from UFC 151 are quickly being rescheduled for different cards, with UFC on FX 5 taking a significant chunk of them. As we covered in yesterday’s link dump, UFC 151′s planned co-main event, Jake Ellenberger vs. Jay Hieron, will now be the co-main event of UFC On FX 5. This won’t be the only fight from UFC 151′s main card that will now be padding UFC on FX 5 – Dennis Hallman vs. Thiago Tavares, Danny Castillo vs. Michael Johnson and Shane Roller vs. Jacob Volkmann will be moved to this card as well. UFC on Fuel TV 6 will now be featuring fights between bantamweights Takeya Mizugaki and Jeff Hougland and flyweights John Lineker and Yasuhiro Urushitani, while Kyle Noke and Charlie Brenneman will do the man dance on the undercard of UFC 152.
In case you haven’t noticed, it’s worth mentioning that absolutely none of these fights – three of which were on the pay-per-view portion of UFC 151, mind you – have made it to the main card of an upcoming pay-per-view. Now I understand that financially, most fighters who were expecting a paycheck on September 1 simply can’t afford to wait until November’s UFC 154 to fight again. But that’s not the issue: The issue is that the UFC could afford to move pay-per-view quality fights *makes this hand gesture* to free television in the first place.
Dana White can point his fingers at Jon Jones and Greg Jackson and say “That’s the bad guy!” all he wants, but that certainly doesn’t make him the good guy in all of this. The fact that the UFC can give away bouts that they expected you to pay for without worrying about the revenue they’ll lose is essentially an admission that the bouts were never really worth your money in the first place. Essentially, it’s proof that, as we feared, over-saturation has reached its tipping point in the UFC and as a result, the main event of any given pay-per-view is the only fight worth paying for. Gone are the days when a fighter in the co-main event of a UFC pay-per-view was too big of a name for basic cable (Isn’t that right, Mike Russow?). It’s easy to make Jon Jones and Greg Jackson the scapegoats for the cancellation of UFC 151, but it’s nothing short of willful ignorance to continue to deny that over-saturation is a pandemic in the UFC.
With Jones vs. Belfort now headlining UFC 152 (151?), Dana White will more than likely use the “stacked” UFC 152 as “proof” that the UFC is still putting on stacked cards and that over-saturation is not an issue. On paper, he has a point; it’s hard to say that a card with two title fights isn’t a quality product. But let’s actually look at what we’re getting: A light-heavyweight title fight where the challenger earned the honor of fighting for a belt by simply being the first guy to say “Yeah, sure, I’ll do it,” a flyweight title fight that fans weren’t exactly excited for in the first place, and a middleweight scrap between two top-ten fighters who probably still won’t be getting a shot at Anderson Silva with a victory. Call me crazy, but I’m not seeing a stacked card here. I’m seeing a card that, up until Jon Jones was added on, was weaker than UFC 151.
I guess it would be pretty ironic of me to let the comments section fill up with complaints about how boxing died because champions were fighting unworthy challengers and the “one-fight cards” that ruined the sport. But to do that would be missing my own point, so instead I’ll propose a new rule: From now on, if you aren’t willing to complain with your wallet, you forfeit your right to complain with your keyboard. That should be enough to force the UFC to acknowledge over-saturation, and admission is the first step to recovery.