The Injury Story of UFC 108

December 31, 2009

Dave Meltzer of Yahoo! Sports does a good job of chronicling the injuries that have made UFC 108 “the cursed” show of 2009. Never before has a card started with so much promise and fallen so quickly.

Back in September, UFC 108 looked to be a card with the unique problem of having too many big matches.

 

Then, the dominoes started falling. Middleweight champion Anderson Silva’s minor surgery to repair bone chips in his elbow healed slower than expected.

 

Lesnar fell ill, which ended up diagnosed a case of diverticulitis, which has him out indefinitely. Light heavyweight champ Lyoto Machida had surgery on his left hand. Suddenly, with B.J. Penn scheduled for Dec. 12 and Georges St. Pierre not being ready to fight until February due to a torn abductor muscle, UFC was in a position where instead of too many title matches for one night, there were none available.

 

A prospective Dan Henderson vs. Nate Marquardt match to determine the top contender for the middleweight title was bandied about, but it fell apart as Henderson and UFC couldn’t agree to terms on a new contract and he signed with Strikeforce.

 

Then the middle of the card got gutted. Carlos Condit, Gabriel Gonzaga, Rory Markham, Griffin and Sherk all pulled out for a variety of ailments over the past six weeks. White decided to go on with the show on pay-per-view, avoiding what would be a stream of logistical nightmares in trying to make a late change in plans.

Payout Perspective:

The injuries that this card has suffered have obviously made the UFC’s job a nightmare: everything from advertising, to logistics, to matchmaking has taken a hit.

The advertising and promotion for the event has likely changed 3-4 times by now – which are marketing dollars spent that now return next to nothing. Moreover, the constant changing of the fight card has to at least slightly impair the UFC’s goodwill amongst fight fans. It didn’t help that the UFC failed to correct some material for 106 and 107 that, until one week before each original date, still ran trailers for Lesnar-Carwin and Jackson-Evans.

Logistically, the injuries have put the UFC in the position of having to fulfill obligations to venues and PPV providers that the it might otherwise have wanted to avoid. UFC 108 as a PPV is much more of a problem than UFC 108 as a free gift on Spike.

Not only has Joe Silva’s hand been forced in many situations, but the ultimate product fight fans will see on the 2nd is likely to be hampered by a lack of preparation time for many of its fighters. Every injury to one fighter, affects at least one other. Jim Miller trained for three different opponents leading up to this bout, and now faces a last minute replacement that is far different, stylistically, than the opponent he’d anticipated to face previously.

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The quesiton is now, trend or fluke? Javier Mendez and Greg Jackson give their different opinions on the future toll that injuries my take on MMA, but it was interesting to hear both men mention increasing competition as a critical component in the new MMA landscape.

Another by-product of MMA’s surging popularity is the impact it may have on the development of future talent. There are over 26,000 martial arts facilities in the United States – all with a growing membership base. Not only are martial arts once again seen as a popular athletic activity, but also a trendy way to get in shape. Thus, the sport of MMA can expect to see a continued influx of talent in the coming years – should the sport sustain this growth and popularity – which will ultimately boost competition levels.

If Mendez is right, this increased competition will bring greater wear and tear on the MMA fighter.

However, if Jackson is correct, this competition will push training methods to become more efficient but less intensive from an overall health perspective – train smarter, not harder. He might also be supported by the theory that better competition often comes as the result of superior athletes. Superior athletes being those that can better withstand MMA’s intensive training regimen than some of the fighters a part of MMA’s founding generation.

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