UFC Fight Night 82 Preview

ufc-fn82It didn’t take long for the UFC’s biggest issue to have an effect on the promotion as the second pay-per-view event went from being a major ticket to a free show on FS1 and TSN.

What was UFC 196 has turned into UFC Fight Night 82 after both main event fighters dropped out with injuries essentially making it a free fight type of card.

It is not that the card has been destroyed but rather that a title fight that so many were waiting on is no longer happening and in its place are two welterweights looking to play a role in the title race.

The UFC has been dealing with the injury issue for years but it always turns up the most when it involves championship fighters and no more than in the heavyweight division.

It has been one of the least active divisions in the UFC over the last few years with the title on the line a total of five times since 2012.

That includes only two title fights in the last two years and that has largely been due to injuries from the champions that have prevented the three champions in that time frame to fight.

The UFC was looking to get the division kick started quickly this year in the hopes that an early fight for the title could lead to more activity throughout the year.

That way the heavyweight division could get the recognition that other divisions like the featherweight or bantamweight divisions are getting.

After all the heavyweight division in combat sports has long been the most popular division with great fighters competing to be the “baddest man on earth” in the words of the UFC.

Yet time and time again they disappoint and fall into the background due to injuries leaving most fans forgetting about the division altogether.

As the UFC began the build up to the pay-per-view fight disaster struck again for the division with former champion Cain Velasquez pulling out of the fight.

It was Velasquez’s chance to get his belt back after losing to Fabricio Werdum last year but it was also going to be only the second time he fought since he beat Junior Dos Santos in 2013.

With the chance to avenge the loss of his belt against Werdum there was plenty to talk about heading into this fight.

Then Velasquez hurt his back two weeks before the scheduled fight and was replaced by Stipe Miocic for the title.

It was a great solution for a broken main event as Miocic seemed to be next in line and was ready to fight for the title.

Then the main card was finished when Werdum pulled out of the fight a short time after with a back injury.mma-sidebar.fw

Miocic’s chance was taken away and the main card was finished as the heavyweight title was no longer on the line as everyone was going to have to wait again.

In their place was the co-main event between former welterweight champion Johny Hendricks and young rising star Stephen Thompson.

It is a good fight but not one that was going to draw a lot of pay-per-view purchases so the UFC decided to put it on FS1 and TSN.

The move will make things interesting as the promotion approaches UFC 200 in July but for now the concentration will be on this welterweight fight.

It is an interesting one as Hendricks is looking for another shot at the title, preferably against Robbie Lawler who beat him to take the title, while his opponent is looking to move to the top of the division for the first time.

The match-up itself is what makes this a more interesting fight as well with both fighters likely ready to stand up.

Hendricks is a great wrestler but a wrestler that turned into a knockout artist when he moved to MMA.

He has massive power in his hands and can catch almost anyone with a big punch to put them away, a feat he has done multiple times.

His stand-up will be tested against Thompson though who grew up in karate and could be the most awkward fighters to enter the UFC since Lyoto Machida.

He uses that sideways stance that Machida made famous and can throw any shot at any time from bizarre angles.

The karate style that he brings is not easy to duplicate and to train for making it a true test of Hendricks stand-up game.

The former Division-I wrestler might decide to showcase his wrestling though in which case Thompson’s ground game will get a real test.

Although it isn’t the fight that most were looking forward to on Super Bowl weekend it is still an intriguing fight that will have an effect on the welterweight division after last month’s title fight leaves the top contender spot open.

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