The UFC has officially announced that UFC 176 is now “postponed” because of the injury of reigning champion Jose Aldo. which seems to be a nice way of saying “cancelled.”
In saying the event is postponed, that implies the event will still be held at a later date. However, there is no sign that the event will take place in the foreseeable future. UFC 177 will be held later in August. UFC 178 will be in September. When the UFC actually cancelled UFC 151 in 2012, the event was never rescheduled. UFC 151 was simply a phantom event lost due to the cancellation.
This occurrence was inevitable. In the last two years after the UFC 151 debacle, the company has managed to stave off this problem.
The easy solution to prevent pay-per-view cancellations or postponements is to simply cut down the PPV schedule. In 2012 and 2013, the UFC held 13 PPV events. There would have been 14 in 2012 had UFC 151 not been cancelled. If the problem is finding a prestigious title bout to anchor the card, then cutting down the number of PPVs a year would easily help.
This way, the UFC will have more of a cushion to find suitable headliners. While the UFC has held more PPVs per year, it seems that having even 13 PPVs a year is too much. If the UFC only schedules 12 PPVs for next year, the organization is essentially avoiding scheduling an extra show. The injury epidemic surrounding the sport is disappointing, and it is becoming a real problem. It is time to be proactive and plan around the issue.
The UFC’s global expansion is important. UFC Fight Pass is clearly the future of the UFC model, but the company is still not ready to entirely eliminate PPV. However, UFC Fight Pass could eventually take it down that path. So rather than cutting down the number of actual events, why not scale back on PPVs instead?
A fight such as Ronaldo Souza vs. Gegard Mousasi could easily main event a Fox Sports 1 or UFC Fight Pass card. Add in fights such as Gray Maynard vs. Fabricio Camoes and Bethe Correia vs. Shayna Baszler, and suddenly that is a great-looking card for TV. The UFC agreed that this lineup by itself was not suitable for PPV without a title bout. That means the UFC could still put on an event with this lineup if it was not a PPV.
Here is the other point: Now that the UFC has Fight Pass, which is apparently doing very well, the company has more revenue with a subscription service and overseas ticket sales.
So for 2015, instead of putting 13 PPV events on the calendar, the UFC should instead consider 11 or 12. This way, it will not be as much of a struggle to find a title bout to anchor PPVs on short notice in anticipation of injuries, and the UFC will still have a number of events to put on Fox Sports 1 and Fight Pass.