Now that the dust has settled and UFC Sweden’s main event is settled for this weekend, the fact that the card had to come to this point must be put into question. There’s no doubt that the UFC has put on a number of highly entertaining cards this year, and largely avoided injuries for the most part.
However, does banking a whole event on the back of one hometown star make for a disappointing lineup should something go awry? I would have to say yes, and it’s most likely something the UFC should try to avoid at all costs in the future. Let’s examine the reasons why.
First of all, Swedish MMA fans were practically tripping over themselves to secure a ticket to see Alexander Gustafsson fight Gegard MoUSAsi when the event was announced. While that makes for an extremely successful card on paper, the whole thing is potentially resting upon Gustafsson’s health. Sure, he’ll most likely show up healthy, make weight, and put on a good fight, but what if he doesn’t?
Then you’re left clamoring to find a replacement on a card that has no real secondary star power. It’s similar to UFC 151 in that sense, but at least UFC Sweden wasn’t cancelled. Dana White found a Swedish replacement in champion wrestler Ilir Latifi, but many fans are still left wondering if there wasn’t a bigger name to step in for ‘The Mauler.’
Last year’s UFC Sweden at least had a bit more name recognition to it, with Gustafsson, Thiago Silva, Brian Stann, and Alessio Sakara all on the docket. This time around, having Ross Pearson versus Ryan Couture as the co-main event may have been a bit risky. Not to take anything away from either combatant, as they’re both great fighters. I just don’t think their names have the strength to carry a card quite yet.
And while it’s widely known that White believes the UFC has about 100 too many fighters that will need to be cut soon, one has to wonder if some of those fighters could have bolstered this event some more. If fighting is about the fans, should the UFC look to make events more evened out in order to satisfy those who pay their hard-earned money in order to attend a card?
I definitely think so, and while the injury to Gustafsson was a freak accident that many believe should have been cleared to fight anyway, it’s just not usually a good idea to put all of your eggs in one basket in the fight game.
So now the fans are left with the relatively unknown Latifi in the main event. It has the makings of a feel-good story for sure, as Latifi is a hometown fighter making his UFC debut in a main event against a top-ten fighter. But is all that enough to make amends to all the fans who paid a premium price to see Gustafsson fight?
I’d say no, that the UFC should hedge their bets a little more effectively. The UFC has been quite exciting this year, and there’s a ton of potentially great events in the near future. But when you get one chance a year to impress the fans in Sweden, putting all of your success on one man is a recipe for disaster. Here’s to hoping that UFC on Fuel TV 9 delivers in a big way without major names to drive it.