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Cursed Cards: UFC 133 Nothing New, Top Five Injury-Plagued Events

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UFC 133 has had a lot of cancellations and unplanned changes. We look at 5 other events that were also heavily afflicted with bad mojo.

Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images.
Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images.

The battered UFC 133: "Evans vs. Ortiz 2" fight card is just the latest reminder that it's been a painful year, literally, for the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) and its roster of wounded fighters. 

And we just crossed the midway point of 2011. 

It got off on the wrong foot when reported marquee main card men, and champions, Anderson Silva and then Jose Aldo, were scratched from their respective UFC 125: "Resolution" bouts because of injuries. They were just the most notable scratches that handicapped the "blockbuster" year-end pay-per-view (PPV) event.  

Unproven box offices draws, lightweight champion Frank Edgar and number one contender Gray Maynard, were forced to carry the card. In the end, the 155-pound showdown, which ended in a disappointing draw, didn't break any ratings records. 

Not even close, despite their best efforts, including Edgar's legendary display of resilience and true grit in the opening frame. 

Their trilogy fight was immediately booked for UFC 130 four months later, but that match went up in smoke when both fighters were hurt in training, forcing the promotion to elevate the 205-pound co main event clash between Quinton Jackson and Thiago Silva to the top position. 

That didn't last long, however, when it was revealed that Silva would be suspended for a substance abuse violation. Matt Hamill was penciled in opposite "Rampage" when the dust finally settled, but it did little to persuade fans to open up their wallets and watch it live.

The brutal hard-luck stretch, which also included Kenny Florian withdrawing from his main event fight against Evan Dunham at UFC Fight for the Troops 2, Rashad Evans bowing out of a title fight with Mauricio Rua at UFC 128 and Tito Ortiz pulling out of a clash with Antonio Rogerio Nogueira in the UFC Fight Night 24 headliner, was supposed to get back to normal when Brock Lesnar returned to action. 

That never happened, either.
 
The promotion's biggest star relapsed with diverticulitis just weeks before his number one heavyweight contender eliminator bout with Junior dos Santos at UFC 131. He won't be back until Jan. 2012 ... at the earliest. 

So it should come as no surprise that as another PPV event approaches, UFC 133, which is scheduled for the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pa., on Aug. 6, 2011, the promotion is once again tasked with plugging holes. 

The good news is that the UFC has depth, as well as the ability to recruit eager talent champing at the bit for a shot on the sport's biggest stage, who are capable of compensating. It's far from ideal, but certainly beats the alternative of no fights at all. 

The show(s) must go on. 

UFC 133, when compared to the events that have already been staged this year, seems to have been hit the hardest. But is it the worst we've seen in recent memory? It certainly makes the modern-era UFC trauma list, along with another card this fight season.

Here they are (in chronological order): 

Event: UFC 85: "Bedlam"
Date: Sat., June 7, 2008
Location: The O2 Arena in London, England 

Background:
England, which is rarely the destination for major title fights, was promised a crowd-pleasing event that would showcase two mixed martial arts (MMA) legends, Chuck Liddell and Mauricio Rua, colliding in the main event. Homegrown talent and European posterboy, Michael Bisping, was also expected to face the biggest test of his budding career when he traded leather with Chris Leben in the co-featured fight of the night. Both fights never happened -- "Shogun" went down with an injury and the "Crippler" was locked up for a parole violation when he applied for a visa to travel oversees. Rashad Evans stepped in to face Liddell to help salvage the main event, but the "Iceman" was eventually scratched, as well as his replacement, James Irvin. With all options seemingly exhausted, the promotion called on one if its most reliable commodities, Matt Hughes, to bail it out. He obliged, accepting a fight with surging welterweight contender Thiago Alves, even though "Pitbull" tipped the scales three pounds over the 171-pound division limit. It was the final insult.

Amount of UFC 85 fight card changes: Nine

UFC 85 fight card that could have been

Chuck Liddell vs. Shogun Rua/Rashad Evans
Michael Bisping vs. Chris Leben
Mike Swick vs. Marcus Davis
Thales Leites vs. Nate Marquardt
Fabricio Werdum vs. Brandon Vera
Martin Kampmann vs. Jorge Rivera
Matt Wiman vs. Thiago Tavares
Ryo Chonan vs. Roan Carneiro
Luiz Arthur Cane vs. Jason Lambert
Paul Taylor vs. Jess Liaudin
Antoni Hardonk vs. Neil Wain
Jonathan Goulet vs. Paul Kelly 

UFC 85 fight card that was

Thiago Alves vs. Matt Hughes
Michael Bisping vs. Jason Day
Mike Swick vs. Marcus Davis
Thales Leites vs. Nate Marquardt
Fabricio Werdum vs. Brandon Vera
Martin Kampmann vs. Jorge Rivera
Matt Wiman vs. Thiago Tavares
Kevin Burns vs. Roan Carneiro
Luis Arthur Cane vs. Jason Lambert
Paul Taylor vs. Jess Liaudin
Antoni Hardonk vs. Eddie Sanchez 

Final verdict: With the exception of Alves' highlight-reel knockout of Hughes, this event probably won't be remembered for much more than its fight card casualties and unrivaled main event carousel. However, there were a few other notable upsets and surprise finishes that saved it from being an utter disaster.

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Event: UFC 98: "Evans vs. Machida"
Date: Sat., May 23, 2009
Location: MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada 

Background:
This event was supposed to feature the highly-anticipated rematch between Brock Lesnar and Frank Mir; however, the colossal heavyweight showdown was postponed until UFC 100 because of a knee injury that Mir sustained in training. The promotion's second choice was a grudge match between Rashad Evans and arch enemy, Quinton Jackson, but that 205-pound bout was scrapped because "Rampage" required jaw surgery. Undefeated enigma Lyoto Machida was reluctantly granted his opportunity to challenge for a world title, which he seized in fine fashion. The rest of the card was also bitten bad by the injury bug.

Amount of UFC 98 fight card changes: Seven

UFC 98 fight card that could have been

Brock Lesnar vs. Frank Mir
Rashad Evans vs. Quinton Jackson
Matt Hughes vs. Matt Serra
Frank Edgar vs. Sean Sherk
Yushin Okami vs. Dan Miller
James Irvin vs. Drew McFedries
Houston Alexander vs. Andre Gusmao
Josh Koscheck vs. Chris Wilson
Tim Hague vs. Pat Barry
Kyle Bradley vs. Phillipe Nover
Yoshiyuki Yoshida vs. Brandon Wolff
George Roop vs. Dave Kaplan 

UFC 98 fight card that was:

Lyoto Machida vs. Rashad Evans
Matt Hughes vs. Matt Serra
Frank Edgar vs. Sean Sherk
Chael Sonnen vs. Dan Miller
Drew McFedries vs. Xavier Foupas-Pokam
Krzysztof Soszynski vs. Andre Gusmao
Brock Larson vs. Mike Pyle
Tim Hague vs. Pat Barry
Kyle Bradley vs. Phillipe Nover
Yoshiyuki Yoshida vs. Brandon Wolff
George Roop vs. Dave Kaplan 

Final verdict: A thrilling knockout in the main event, the conclusion of a grudge match that was literally years in the making, a 37-second knockout, and the rise of Chael Sonnen, as well as the emergence of future lightweight champion, Frank Edgar, on the main card alone make UFC 98 a very pivotal event, which was never supposed to be in its original form.
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Event: UFC 108: "Evans vs. Silva"
Date: Sat., Jan. 2, 2010
Location: MGM Grand Garden Arena, Las Vegas, Nevada 

Background
The fantasy New Year's Eve line up, which featured two champions -- Anderson Silva and Brock Lesnar -- defeding their titles on the same night ended up being just that, fantasy. Silva pulled out with an elbow issue and Lesnar's illness kept him from competing here, too. Then the "new" main event -- Antonio Rodrgio Nogueira vs. Cain Velasquez -- was pushed back to UFC 110 thanks to staph infection for "Big Nog." The co main event between Rashad Evans and Thiago Silva was eventually promoted to the top as a last resort. The main/under cards were not excluded, going through several injury-inspired machinations leading up to showtime. The card was so "cursed" that UFC matchmaker Joe Silva even suffered a knee injury prior to it. Seriously.

Amount of UFC 108 fight card changes: 9.5 (Joe Silva has to be included)

UFC 108 fight card that could have been

Anderson Silva vs. Vitor Belfort
Rashad Evans vs. Thiago Silva
Carlos Condit vs. Paul Daley
Jim Miller vs. Tyson Griffin
Rory Markham vs. Martin Kampmann
Gabriel Gonzaga vs. Junior dos Santos
Steve Cantwell vs. Vladimir Matyushenko
Sam Stout vs. Joe Lauzon
Cole Miller vs. Dan Lauzon
Mark Munoz vs. Ryan Jensen
Jake Ellenberger vs. Mike Pyle
Rafaello Oliveira vs. John Gunderson

UFC 108 fight card that was

Rashad Evans vs. Thiago Silva
Paul Daley vs. Dustin Hazelett
Jim Miller vs. Duane Ludwig
Martin Kampmann vs. Jacob Volkmann
Junior Dos Santos vs. Gilbert Yvel
Sam Stout vs. Joe Lauzon
Cole Miller vs. Dan Lauzon
Mark Munoz vs. Ryan Jensen
Jake Ellenberger vs. Mike Pyle
Rafaello Oliveira vs. John Gunderson

Final verdict: A so-so main event was buttressed by two great knockouts on the main card thanks to Junior dos Santos and Paul Daley. Jim Miller registered a sweet submission, as did Martin Kampmann. In fact, seven of the 10 fights all ended early, which is the mark of an entertaining event ... regardless of who may be fighting.
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Event: UFC on Versus 3: "Sanchez vs. Kampmann"
Date: Thurs., March 3, 2011
Location: KFC Yum! Center in Louisville, Kentucky

Background: This cursed card was a little different for two reasons: It wasn't a major PPV show and the original main card, for the most part, remained intact. Nonetheless, a natural disaster -- flooding in Brazil -- forced the withdrawal of a fighter, Alexandre Ferreira, for the first time in 2011. Japan's devastating earthquake, tsunami and near nuclear meltdown would then coincidentally keep Yoshihiro Akiyama out of his UFC 128 appearance weeks later. Two cancellations happened so close to fight night that the promotion opted to scrap them altogether rather than hastily scheduling new ones.

Amount of UFC on Versus 3 fight card changes: Eight

UFC on Versus 3 fight card that could have been

Diego Sanchez  vs. Martin Kampmann
Mark Munoz vs. C.B. Dollaway
Maiquel Falcao vs. Alessio Sakara
Brian Bowles vs. Damacio Page
Danny Castillo vs. Joe Stevenson
Cyrille Diabate vs. Steve Cantwell
Shane Roller vs. Thiago Tavares
Takeya Mizugaki vs. Francisco Rivera
Rousimar Palhares vs. Alexandre Ferreira
Igor Pokrajac vs. Todd Brown
Dongi Yang vs. Rob Kimmons
Johny Hendricks vs. Paulo Thiago
Cub Swanson vs. Erik Koch 
Matt Brown vs Mark Scanlon

UFC on Versus 3 fight card that was:

Diego Sanchez  vs. Martin Kampmann
Mark Munoz vs. C.B. Dollaway
Chris Weidman vs. Alessio Sakara
Brian Bowles vs. Damacio Page
Danny Castillo vs. Joe Stevenson
Cyrille Diabate vs. Steve Cantwell
Shane Roller vs. Thiago Tavares
Takeya Mizugaki vs. Reuben Duran
Rousimar Palhares vs. Dave Branch
Igor Pokrajac vs. Todd Brown
Dongi Yang vs. Rob Kimmons

Final verdict: Diego Sanchez and Martin Kampmann engaged in a "Fight of the Year" candidate, a back-and-forth slobberknocker that "Dream" ultimately won via controversial unanimous decision. Munoz euthanized "Doberman" Dollaway and Brian Bowles made history, submitting Damacio Page (again) via the same method (guillotine choke) at the exact same time (3:30) and in the same round (one). Superb.

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Event: UFC 133: "Evans vs. Ortiz II"
Date: Sat., Aug. 6, 2011
Location: Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 

Background:
This event was supposed to pit fast friends, and even faster foes, Jon Jones and Rashad Evans opposite one another for the 205-pound championship of the world, as well as bragging rights. The former training partners quickly drew sides, and camps, after "Bones" beat "Shogun" for the belt. He was a last minute replacement for an injured Evans, who backed his buddy until their tenuous friendship fell apart right before our eyes shortly after it was announced they would have to fight one another. A war of words ensued, battle lines were drawn. But then just like that, Jones announced he would elect to have hand surgery. The fight with Evans was canceled, and rather than sit on the sidelines longer, "Suga" agreed to fight Phil Davis. Shortly thereafter, Jones decided against surgery and was booked to fight Quinton Jackson at UFC 135, adding more fuel to Evans' blazing fire. Davis eventually suffered a knee injury in training, which forced the promotion to scramble to find a replacement. It seemed that a rematch with Machida was the likely solution, but then the "Dragon" demanded too much money. Tito Ortiz ultimately answered the call just two weeks removed from his first win in nearly five years. And after accepting the fight, seemingly ending all the madness, he crashed his Phantom. It has been a surreal sequence of events ... and we're still on the main event. Another title fight was also planned for the card and then scrapped, and the co main event was also recently ditched. But that's not all. Not even close. 

Amount of UFC 133 fight card changes: 9.5 (Car crash included)

UFC 133 fight card that could have been:

Jon Jones/Phil Davis vs. Rashad Evans
Jose Aldo vs. Chad Mendes
Rich Franklin vs. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira
Yoshihiro Akiyama vs. Vitor Belfort
Rory MacDonald vs. Mike Pyle
Vladimir Matyushenko vs. Alexander Gustafsson
Nick Pace vs. Michael McDonald
Riki Fukuda vs. Rafael Natal
Jorge Rivera vs. Alessio Sakara
Johny Hendricks vs. Mike Pierce

Mike Brown vs. Nam Phan
Brian Ebersole vs. Dennis Hallman 

UFC 133 fight card that was:

Rashad Evans vs. Tito Ortiz
Yoshihiro Akiyama vs. Vitor Belfort


Jorge Rivera vs. Constantinos Philippou

Rory MacDonald vs. Mike Pyle
Matt Hamill vs. Alexander Gustafsson

Chad Mendes vs. Rani Yahya
Johny Hendricks vs. Mike Pierce

Mike Brown vs. Nam Phan

Ivan Menjivar vs. Nick Pace

Brian Ebersole vs. Dennis Hallman

Rafael Natal vs. Paul Bradley

Final verdict: Jury is still out.

It's interesting to note that Rashad Evans has been involved in four of the five most ravaged cards highlighted in this list, dropping out of one of them (UFC 85) after two opponents went down (Liddell, Irvin) and a third (Cane) just didn't cut the mustard. "Suga" was handed his first-ever career loss when he fought Machida rather than "Rampage," while defeating (Thiago) Silva at UFC 108; however, he was never supposed to fight anyone else that night.

With a year-long layoff, preparing for essentially his third opponent -- not even counting Mauricio Rua, who he was supposed to fight at UFC 128 earlier this year but didn't -- Evans is perhaps the most "cursed" fighter on yet another one of the promotion's "cursed" cards.

It'll be interesting to see if he can reverse those curses in Philadelphia less than two weeks from today. If he, and Ortiz, can make it that far.