The UFC just had one of its biggest cards of all time, but the next two have already taken a hit.
A former champion from the headliner of UFC 218, and another from the headliner in UFC 219, have announced they’ll be unable to make their upcoming commitments.
The problem of fighters pulling out close to showtime has become more common in recent years. Though the athletes may have been determined to make their dates, especially since one had a title shot, injuries can derail even the most dedicated fighters.
The first of these fighters is Frankie Edgar. The former lightweight champion shocked the world when he defeated BJ Penn for the title, winning two rematches over the legendary Hall of Famer and winning the final fight of a storybook trilogy with Gray Maynard.
Edgar dropped to featherweight after failing to recapture the success he once had at 155. Despite falling short in a match against Jose Aldo, a man who ruled the division for half a decade, Edgar is still competing strong at this stage in his career.
He was scheduled to face current champion Max Holloway on December 2, but an undisclosed injury led him to withdraw.
Holloway is currently on the tear of his career, winning his last eleven fights. His most recent wins came over two of the division’s very best, when he finished both with strikes in the third round. These victories solidified him as champion, as he won the interim belt by defeating Anthony Pettis and unified the titles against Aldo.
Another former champion was looking to get back on the winning track at UFC 219, but suffered a similar fate as Edgar. Bantamweight great Dominick Cruz is out of his upcoming bout with Jimmie Rivera due to a broken arm.
The timing is terrible for Cruz, who was likely looking to reestablish himself as a contender for the championship. Winning the championship back in WEC, he unified it once the UFC acquired the promotion. Cruz had a standout record, posting victories over the likes of old rival Urijah Faber and current flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson.
After being forced to vacate his belt due to reoccurring injuries, Cruz reclaimed it with a close split-decision win over T.J. Dillashaw before later losing the title to Cody Garbrandt. After Dillashaw’s victory over Garbrandt at UFC 217, many believed the winner of the Cruz/Rivera bout would be the new top contender.
Late withdrawals do not always mean the event will be lackluster. Michael Bisping famously stepped in for Chris Weidman on short notice against Luke Rockhold, stunning the MMA world by winning and claiming the championship despite being a heavy underdog.
Bisping’s UFC 217 opponent, Georges St.-Pierre also did a similar move early in his career. After Matt Serra was forced to withdraw from his title defense against Matt Hughes at UFC 79, GSP stepped up to replace him. He defeated Hughes in what was their rubber match, claiming the interim welterweight title.
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