I hate sounding pessimistic, because I’d like to consider myself a pretty optimistic guy, but UFC 161 really seems like the disaster that was UFC 149 all over again. Last summer, the UFC went through an injury epidemic and the card that was most affected by it was UFC 149, which was the UFC’s first trip to Calgary, Alberta, Canada. UFC president Dana White famously said that he would bring Calgary, “A sick card,” and things were sure looking that way when the original card was booked. The original card for UFC 149, before injuries took over, was fantastic. This is what the event was supposed to look like, and I agree with White that the event would have been “sick” had the lineup looked like this: Jose Aldo vs. Erik Koch (for UFC featherweight title) Mauricio “Shogun” Rua vs. Thiago Silva Michael Bisping vs. Tim Boetsch Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira vs. Cheick Kongo Yoshihiro Akiyama vs. Thiago Alves That is an absolutely outstanding card on paper, but unfortunately the injury bug bit the card and this is what it ended up looking like instead: Renan Barao vs. Urijah Faber (for UFC interim bantamweight title) Tim Boetsch vs. Hector Lombard Cheick Kongo vs. Shawn Jordan James Head vs. Brian Ebersole Matt Riddle vs. Chris Clements Of the main card bouts, the only fight that could have been considered a home-run was Riddle vs. Clements, which was an outstanding back-and-forth fight that concludes with Riddle finishing off Clements with a rarely-seen standing arm-triangle choke. But the Head vs. Ebersole and Barao vs. Faber fights were largely forgettable, and the Kongo vs. Jordan and Boetsch vs. Lombard fights were panned as two of the worst fights of the year. White wasn’t happy with the card and he said that he would owe it to the city of Calgary — which completely sold out the Scotiabank Saddledome for a $4.1-million gate for the UFC — but the promotion has yet to come back. Instead, the UFC has attempted to open up a new live-show market in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and they put together the following card for UFC 161, which is set to take place at MTS Centre in less than two weeks: Renan Barao vs. Eddie Wineland (for UFC interim bantamweight title) Dan Henderson vs. Rashad Evans Antonio Rogerio Nogueira vs. Mauricio “Shogun” Rua Alexis Davis vs. Rosi Sexton Pat Barry vs. Shawn Jordan That’s a great card on paper, but unfortunately injuries have really taken their toll on this card and now it looks like this: Dan Henderson vs. Rashad Evans Mauricio “Shogun” Rua vs. ? Roy Nelson vs. Stipe Miocic Alexis Davis vs. Rosi Sexton Pat Barry vs. Shawn Jordan I know that injuries aren’t the UFC’s fault but this card is not even close to the original card that the fans bought tickets to. At this point, the only fight that could save the event would be a fight between “Shogun” and one of Lyoto Machida, Glover Teixeira, or Chael Sonnen, but none of those fights are likely to happen with the event only two weeks’ away. Instead, look for “Shogun” to fight a lesser opponent, such as he did last year when he took on Brandon Vera at UFC on FOX 4. This isn’t the card that the fans of Winnipeg paid for and it’s unfortunate that for the second year a Western-Canadian city has had their cards whittled away because of injuries. But hopefully the remaining fighters can put on a good show for the fans, unlike most of the fighters at UFC 149, and the fans go home happy. But I’m not optimistic.
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