For over two decades since its acquisition by Zuffa, LLC, the Ultimate Fighting Championship has been built on two principles that might seem at odds with one another. On one hand, the promotion is built on stars, while on the other hand, the UFC brand itself is bigger than any individual. Contradictory though they might seem, those two notions have successfully carried the UFC to the top of the promotional heap, while the sport as a whole has grown into a massive global business.
One of the most notable ways in which this philosophy has worked for the UFC is in the sheer consistency of its output. As fighters withdraw from matches due to injury, illness, personal issues or conflict with the promotion, others step up to replace them. Cards—as the fine print reminds us—are always subject to change, but the show must go on. While the quality of the product obviously varies from one event to the next, the events themselves are like clockwork.
All of this makes it especially shocking when the UFC is forced to cancel an event entirely, especially when it is a numbered pay-per-view event scheduled for a marquee venue. That is precisely what happened a few weeks ahead of UFC 176, which was to have taken place on Aug. 2, 2014 at Staples Center in Los Angeles. On July 2, featherweight champion Jose Aldo, who was scheduled to defend his title against Chad Mendes in the main event, pulled out of the fight with an injury. After a few days in which the UFC cast about unsuccessfully for a replacement headliner, it was announced on July 8 that the event had been cancelled.
It was the first time such a thing had happened since the failure of the Jon Jones vs. Dan Henderson main event precipitated the cancellation of UFC 151, and unlike that time—which had infamously led UFC President Dana White to blow his top and call Jones’ coach Greg Jackson a “f**king sport killer”—UFC 176 went away fairly quietly. As was the case with UFC 151, UFC 176 was simply skipped and the numbering of future events remained unchanged; with the next several pay-per-views already on the calendar, renumbering would have been completely impractical. The fights that had been scheduled for that night were distributed among several upcoming events, and nine of the 11 matchups ended up taking place eventually.