In July of 2013, we saw the beginning of an amazing line up of events coming to fruition to close out the year. Stacked card after stacked card started to be announced, giving MMA fans many events to look forward to around the end of the year. Topping off the end of the year would be the most anticipated rematch in UFC history, Chris Weidman vs. Anderson Silva at UFC 168. One bad thing about a stacked last quarter of the year is that it hasn’t left the UFC with much room to make the beginning of 2014 impactful.
The UFC’s Super bowl weekend show is always a packed card, and the UFC already has two title fights lined up for the card. Who though is going to fill the PPV slots in 2014 that have already been announced? UFC 170 and 171 take place in February and March respectively, but the list of champions that could possibly fight on those cards is limited to say the least, due to the crazy last quarter of 2013.
Championship Traffic Jam
Going through the division champions, Cain Velasquez, Jon Jones, Georges St-Pierre and Anthony Pettis are currently without a card to fight on. Anthony Pettis is out until the summer with a knee injury, and Cain Velasquez is still nursing an injured shoulder. Jon Jones was recently taken off of the 170 card, as he felt he still needed to recover from his fight with Gustafsson. GSP is MIA at the moment, on vacation with no return date known. Every other champion is scheduled to fight within the next two months, and it would be very unlikely for a champion to have a turnaround of two months after a title fight.
UFC 170 takes place on February 22nd at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. That PPV event is sandwiched between two UFC Fight Nights, with UFC Fight Night: Machida vs. Mousasi taking place 2 weeks prior to UFC 170, and UFC Fight Night: Gustafsson vs. Manuwa taking place 2 weeks after UFC 170. The UFC then heads to Dallas, Texas for their UFC 171 event on March 15th, where a headliner or any fight have yet to be announced.
Who Else Could Headline?
So who will headline these two PPV’s in 2014? Could we see a number one contenders matchup take top billing on one of these cards? That possibility is also unlikely, considering the UFC already has a bunch of events scheduled between now and UFC 171 with top contenders taking the headlining slot. Ben Henderson is fighting Josh Thompson on Fox in January, being a lightweight number one contenders bout. The bantamweight number one contender will be decided in December when Urijah Faber fights Michael MacDonald on the incredibly stacked UFC on Fox 9 event, which also has a Condit/Brown fighting for top welterweight contender status. Gustafsson fights Manuwa, and Machida fights Mousasi, both fights having major implications for their respective divisions.
With all of the champions either already booked for a fight or on the sidelines, as well as five top contender bouts already scheduled to take place, the UFC is going to have a hard time figuring out how to fix this problem. Will we see back to back weak PPV events? We might, but that is what we get as fans who were spoiled by huge event after huge event for the past four months. That combined with the injury bug making its presence felt for 2014, and we could begin the year looking more like 2012, instead of the great year that was 2013. So enjoy this last month of 2013, because we are more than likely not going to be as lucky in 2014.
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