2016 has been a hugely successful year for the UFC in many respects, but while fans have been treated to some of the biggest fights and most stacked cards in the history of the sport, the age old problem of major fights falling through has continued to be a thorn in the promotion’s flesh.
In this article we’ll take a look back at the 10 biggest fights to have fallen by the wayside in the past 12 months, and it’s a star-studded selection of mouth-watering match-ups that includes no less than five title-fights that slipped through the net.
In all, a remarkable eight of the 10 fights listed were actually scheduled to headline an event, and with some of them falling through on anything from a few days to a few weeks notice, it’s something of a minor miracle that, for the most part, the UFC has been able to roll with the punches and come out on top in the end.
That being said, the ramifications of some of these bouts being canceled has been massive at times, and in some cases has led to not only the fight being called off, but entire events being razed to the ground in one fell swoop, costing the UFC a fortune in the process and robbing fans of the chance to see their heroes in action at pivotal moments in their careers.
Fabricio Werdum vs. Cain Velasquez II
Fabricio Werdum delivered something of an upset at UFC 188 in Mexico City in 2015 when he submitted reigning heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez with a guillotine choke.
Velasquez had been uncharacteristically lethargic during the fight, with his camp later suggesting that he’d been caught out by the unusually high altitude in the city, which helped their push for an immediate rematch, with fans curious to see if ‘Sea-level Cain’ would fare any better against the Brazilian.
The second fight was booked to headline what was at the time known as UFC 196 on February 2nd in Las Vegas during Super Bowl weekend, but disaster struck when Velasquez was forced out with a back injury on less than two weeks notice.
Werdum then also withdrew from the show due to injuries of his own, leaving the UFC in a very awkward spot that eventually forced them to cancel UFC 196 as a pay-per-view event, instead putting the remaining fight cards on free TV as ‘UFC Fight Night 82.’
It’s a move that would that would cost them millions of dollars, and that’s before factoring in the costly and confusing process of having to renumber all their other forthcoming numbered PPV and ‘Fight Night’ events due to the cancelation.
Meanwhile, with Velaquez out of action for several months, Werdum would instead go on to fight Stipe Miocic at UFC 198 in May and promptly lost his title by way of a first round TKO stoppage.
Werdum vs. Velasquez II will now finally go ahead at UFC 207 on December 30th, though this time there won’t be a title on the line.