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5 Cancelled Mixed Martial Arts Events

Updated: Dec 15, 2018

Unfortunately, not all events are made to be.

Due to unforeseen circumstances, such as injury to a marquee fighter or sales issues, full events have been cancelled and fights have been rescheduled.

WME recently announced their first event cancellation since taking ownership of Ultimate Fighting Championship with UFC 233 set for January 2019 in Anaheim being nixed from the schedule.

Media sources are citing that a lack of a main event for the card as one of the possible reasons for the cancellation with Henry Cejudo vs. T.J. Dillashaw being moved off the event. Also, promotional rival Bellator would also be hosting an event just thirty miles away on the same day.

We look at five notable mixed martial arts events which were cancelled and the reasoning behind it.

"UFC 151 Will Be Remembered As The Event Jon Jones and Greg Jackson Murdered"

UFC 151 was set for Sept. 1, 2012 featuring light heavyweight champion Jon Jones against challenger Dan Henderson.

Jones was coming off his third consecutive title defense after defeating Quinton 'Rampage' Jackson, Lyoto Machida and Rashad Evans heading into the scheduled bout with Henderson.

Hendo had just defeated Mauricio 'Shogun' Rua by close unanimous decision for his fourth consecutive win after stopping Renato 'Babalu' Sobral, Rafael Cavalcante and Fedor Emelianenko in Strikeforce.

Unfortunately eight days out from the event, Henderson would pull out of the fight due to knee injury, and teammate Chael Sonnen would step in to face Jones.

Or so we thought.

Jones, with additional advice from coach Greg Jackson, would reject the bout and the UFC would ultimately cancel the event, becoming the first cancelled event in UFC history.

UFC president Dana White would tear into Jones during the UFC 151 media conference call, "This is affecting 16 other lives, their families. Kids are going back to school. The list goes on and on of all the things, the money that was spent for fighters to train and the list goes on... Like I said, I don't think this is going to make Jon Jones popular with the fans, sponsors, cable distributors, television network executives or other fighters."

White would also dig at Jackson, "I'll go on the record saying [Jackson] is a [expletive] sport-killer."

Majority of fighters would rip into Jones on social media feeling Jones is the one to entirely blame for the cancelled event.

Each fight on the card would be rescheduled for the next two months, some being scrapped again entirely.

After names such as Sonnen, Anderson Silva, Lyoto Machida and Chris Weidman were in the mix to face Jones, Vitor Belfort would be scheduled to face 'Bones' at UFC 152. Jones would submit Belfort to retain his light heavyweight title.

Jones would defeat Sonnen at UFC 159, and would also defeat Henderson in submission grappling competition.

Josh Barnett's Failed Drug Test Which Cancelled Affliction: Trilogy

From the early days of UFC, Affliction Clothing was a prominent sponsor, producing shirts for some of the premiere fighters in the organization, also branching out to boxing and rock bands.

Affliction Clothing broke away from the UFC as a sponsor and in 2008 launched Affliction Entertainment to host mixed martial arts events as direct competitor. The company would have former UFC fighters in their events, plus a headliner Fedor Emelianenko, likely the greatest heavyweight MMA fighter to not compete in the UFC.

After two successful events, their third was to be scheduled between Emelianenko and former UFC heavyweight champion Josh Barnett.

Just 11 days out from the event, Barnett would test positive for anabolic steroids in his pre-fight drug test and would not be licensed by California State Athletic Commission.

Affliction would release the following statement:

The highly anticipated fight between Fedor Emelianenko and Josh Barnett at the Affliction Trilogy MMA show has been cancelled. The mega fight was scheduled to take place at the Honda Center in Anaheim on August 1st.  The unforeseen license denial of Josh Barnett gave Affliction limited time to find a replacement and adequately promote the new main event.

“Finding an opponent for the number one ranked MMA heavy weight champion in such a short period of time was a huge endeavor and I’m thrilled at the amount of fighters willing to take on this challenge,” said Tom Atencio, vice president of Affliction Entertainment. “But in the end, we just didn’t have enough time to promote a new fight to our standards.”

Ultimately, the promotion would fold and once again become clothing sponsor to the UFC. Fights and fighters on the card would be picked up by various promotions including UFC, M-1 Global, WEC and Strikeforce.

UFC 176 is Carefully Worded That Event is Postponed and Not Cancelled

UFC 176 was the second Zuffa-era UFC event to be cancelled in the promotion's history, however to much less heat than UFC 151.

In what would have been the fourth UFC event held in Los Angeles, and the first in two years, UFC 176 was to be headlined by a featherweight title rematch between Jose Aldo and Chad Mendes.

Unfortunately, just a month out from the fight, Jose Aldo would withdraw from the bout due to a neck and shoulder injury.

Then-UFC CEO Lorenzo Fertitta spoke to BloodyElbow about the event cancellation stating that Aldo's injury would hold him out of training 'for only three weeks' and the fight could just be postponed to a later date.

As for the next ranked contenders as replacements, Aldo consecutively defeated Frankie Edgar, Ricardo Lamas and Chan Sung Jung who were respectively ranked second, fourth, and fifth in the division. Number-three ranked contender Cub Swanson was defeated by Aldo in just eight seconds early in their careers. The remaining contenders have lost to other ranked fighters, while Conor McGregor was only three fights into his UFC career.

The fights on the original UFC 176 card were moved to events within the month, and Aldo vs. Mendes 2 getting moved to UFC 179, where Aldo retained his UFC featherweight title by unanimous decision.

Strikeforce Suffers Back-To-Back Cancelled Events on Heels of UFC 151 'Cancellation'

It may have been a rough few months for Zuffa's event production teams.

The two major MMA teams involved in Strikeforce were Cesar Gracie Jiu-Jitsu's Skrap Pack and American Kickboxing Academy, which built star-power around the likes of fighters such as Nick Diaz, Gilbert Melendez, Jake Shields, Daniel Cormier and Luke Rockhold.

Final Strikeforce lightweight champion Melendez was to face Pat Healy at Strikeforce's scheduled event for Sept. 29, 2012 in Sacramento, California.

Just under a week out from the event, Melendez had suffered a knee injury and withdrew from the fight. Due to the lack of a proper headliner and major draws on the undercard, Showtime elected to cancel the event in it's entirety.

Showtime released the following statement to announce the cancellation:

"On Friday night Strikeforce informed us that Lightweight Champion Gilbert Melendez had sustained an injury and would not be able to compete in their Saturday, September 29 card. Without our headline fighter and main event or a marquee undercard, we reluctantly informed Strikeforce that we could not continue with plans for the telecast."

Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker stated:

"Without a television partner, we simply could not move forward with this event. We wish Gilbert a speedy recovery and will work diligently and quickly to reschedule the fighters affected by this news on upcoming cards."

Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix winner Daniel Cormier was to take on former UFC heavyweight champion Frank Mir at a Strikeforce event on November 3, 2012 in Cormier's alma mater city of Oklahoma City. Cormier's teammate and then-Strikeforce middleweight champion Luke Rockhold was to fight in the co-main event.

Disaster would strike as less than eight weeks from the fight, as Mir would withdraw due to a knee injury. Possible replacements such as Matt Mitrione and Pat Barry were named, however a short-notice fight would not come to fruition.

Less than five weeks to the event, Rockhold would suffer a wrist injury and would pull out of his title fight.

Five days later, the plug was pulled on the event.

Coker would explain the cancellation:

"Due to a series of injuries, we were forced to cancel the upcoming card on Nov. 3, but are already working to put together a stacked card in January."

Showtime's Stephen Espinoza would also release a statement:

"While we're disappointed with the cancellation, we are looking forward to an even bigger Strikeforce event on Showtime early next year."

Melendez-Healy would be rescheduled to Strikeforce's final event at the beginning of the following year, but would never take place due to both fighters pulling out of the fight due to injury.

Cormier and Mir would eventually fight at a UFC on FOX event in San Jose six months later with Cormier winning a unanimous decision.

Majority of the other fighters would be brought into the UFC after the Strikeforce roster was absorbed following the last event.

UFC Fight Night 97: Demise in Pasay

As of December 2018, the UFC has only held one successful event in the Philippines in two attempts.

Their latest attempt was setting up a featherweight bout between former two-division UFC champion B.J. Penn and former featherweight contender Ricardo Lamas at UFC Fight Night 97 on October 15, 2016.

This was expected to be Penn's first fight in over two years, following an unsuccessful return in 2014 against Frankie Edgar. The fight was also scheduled to be the second for Penn in the featherweight division after competing in the lightweight division and higher for the entirety of his career.

With a little more than a week to the event, Penn would announce his withdrawal from the fight due to injury.

Three days later, UFC would announce the cancellation of the event:

"UFC announced today that it will reschedule its UFC Fight Night event planned for Oct. 15 in Manila, Philippines due to the loss of the main event.

Former UFC champion BJ Penn was forced to withdraw from the main event bout with Ricardo Lamas due to injury.

Athletes scheduled to compete on the Oct. 15 card will be rebooked at upcoming UFC events in the near future. Each athlete set to compete on Oct. 15 will also receive compensation due to the card being rescheduled."

Penn and Lamas would be booked against other opponents. The other fights on the card were scheduled by the year-end events.

Unfortunately for MMA fans in the Philippines, UFC has not yet returned to the Pearl of the Orient.


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