With a top-heavy card, Dana White may have gambled too much on UFC Sweden


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. 

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  • Well I could make it all one

    • This card still looks exciting. Maybe its lacking star power but Matt Mitrione, Brad Picket, and Pablo Garza bring it every fight and I'm excited to watch it. I wouldn't be surprised if this card turns out some awesome fights

  • I didnt bother reading this article but this card no longer appeals to me at all. Ill pass on it and if any good fights should happen Ill just watch them a day or 2 later without giving up my saturday night.

  • Ross Pearson is main event material I think. I don't ever recall seeing him in anything but great fights.

  • there is a big sale on tickets now. u can find a ticket for 10 dollars. 150 dollars for the best seats. wasnt going but with these prices…. 🙂 🙂

  • I liked the article Mike. I agree with you and I also think its just the nature of the business. When things always work out the way they're supposed to there isn't anything to talk about. When this kind of stuff happens it makes us wonder what Dana was thinking. This is why he has a big pool with lots of waterfalls in his backyard and I have a kiddie pool shaped like a turtle. I think this would definitely be a bigger deal if this were a PPV event.

  • Dana has been busy attacking fans on Twitter over their criticisms of this card and choice of substitute Swedish fighter Latifi.

    This card is all about Latifi now….Should he win, his popularity in Sweden is going to gang busters….Should he lose in quick fashion, he will be talked about forever as the low ranked fighter that should never have headlined a card in Sweden.

    I hope that fans get behind and support latifi. he stepped up without a training camp and is putting everything on the line. This was the UFC's decision to give him this opportunity and as Mike said, the UFC have gambled heavily on a top heavy card that fell apart.

    Anything the UFC delivers free on my TV screen, I'm happy with.

    • I don't really think latifi is putting everything on the line at all… if anyone its Mousasi going from a possible Nr.1 contender fight to fighting someone with NO name whatsoever… I don't see it go any other way than Mousasi whoopin' that ***… but still, it's Mousasi that's putting everything on the line here and latifi is one of the luckiest fighters in the world for getting this opportunity.

    • @ Enjoy

      …but is FUEL TV happy with anything The UFC delivers to your TV screen and @ their expense?

      My guess is not. If I was one FUEL's board, I'd be un-happy. I'd be happy with the card, whose on it, the top of the card falling apart and not having a decent, name-brand fighter to step-in and I'd be un-happy about the start time. Europe and Asia, with 10:00 AM or 3:00 PM start times, wouldn't exactly be rocking my boat. Just how strong is that audience vs. a 8:00 or 9:00 PM EST start?

      To me, FUEL was handed a sub-par product. We might like it, because it's free and we'll all watch, but I"m not stoked about this card tomorrow, at all. Or, to put it another way, if I had something that needed to be done tomorrow at there, I'd do it and I'd catch the fights online. No big deal. I don't think the FUEL brass would be too impressed with that type of audience reaction.

  • Well I think the UFC learned from the Calgary card. Main events will be scrapped, these things happen. If you look back to some of the most memorable fights they were not main events either way.

  • I think its still a great card.. i was looking forward to watch Mousasi destroy Gus… but it's all good. The rest of the card looks really good with great matchups and i think there will be some fireworks!

  • The only thing I can say, is that Dana is lucky this card is on Fuel and not a PPV, because The UFC would get slaughtered in sales. There's absolutely no way I'd fork out $55 bucks for this event and my guess is, that many other UFC / MMA fans would take a pass on it, as well.

    • @Truth….This card could turn out better than the next PPV. I think Dana should scrap PPV's and give us all the fights free on FUEL. I'm already paying for cable when i watch it on fuel, and some people in other countries get PPVs as part of their normal package with out the $55 surcharge.

      • @ Enjoy

        I can't speak to the quality of the two cards, particularly when I don't support the top-of-the-card on the PPV and won't be buying it, but to your larger point, I couldn't agree more.

        My honest opinion is, the first promotion to put great, name-brand, talent on regularly scheduled TV and lets face facts, The UFC cannot either find or employ every great fighter out there, will end up being top dog. Although The UFC has a tremendous head-start over whatever competitors are around right now, nothing is written in stone. The PPV has to go or it at least, has to fall to some / a nominal fee ($5), but $55, with no guarantee that it won't go higher and it's already up $5 from when I first started buying them, is not a "next-level" business strategy. Not if they want to make The UFC the equivalent of The NFL, NBA etc.

        I just don't see that happening with a PPV based model.

        • @Truth….can you imagine every football game you are forking out $55.00 ? It would seem crazy….the UFC are running their business by hyping the hell out of a PPV card through smack talking promos. Surely this isn't sustainable long term… I never buy PPV because my local bar always televises it…I'd rather spend $55 on beers, steaks and the odd bet.