It took less than eight hours for the first-ever Ultimate Fighter Championship (UFC) fight in Mexico City to sell out the over 20,000 tickets available. Earlier this week the event took a huge hit and we probably won’t see the “Arena Ciudad de México” at its maximum capacity on november 15.
What was supposed to be a huge turnout to watch Caín Velasquez fight for the heavyweight championship against Fabricio Werdum could lose huge ratings now that Velasquez was ruled out due to an injury in his knee. His place will be now taken by Mark Hunt. Two days later, Diego Sánchez announced via Twitter that his fate was just like Velasquez bad luck. The interesting thing here is that Sanchez opponent, Joe Lauzon, had already dropped out of the competition one day earlier. Plus add the withdrawal of Erick “Goyito” Pérez from Monterrey, Mexico. Everything seems to be going the opposite way as to how organizers envisioned the event.
Dana White, during his appearance at UFC 172 in Dallas, Texas showed a huge interest on taking his brand to the other side of the Rio Grande where the UFC fanbase is steadily growing. It is still unclear how the various hits this event has taken will affect the two White had already planned for 2015.
At 32 years old, Velasquez (13-1-0) is not only a fan favorite among the hispanic followers of the sport, but a household name among the elite figures in the mixed martial arts world. Even though he has spent most of his life living in the United States, his roots are based in Mexico. The first ever UFC event in Mexico was a great comeback opportunity for the fighter who has not seen action since October 2013 when he beat Junior dos Santos.
His injury is clearly not just a hit for his personal career but for the whole UFC circus that is a major blow that is yet not quantified. Something that is not common in big events is reimbursements and that is just what UFC is offering ticketholders. From october 28 to november 7 those who saw any of the injured fighters as a reason to attend, will be able to claim their money back.
2014 hasn’t been a good year for UFC fighters, many who have been getting injured left and right throughout the year. Staying healthy has been a challenge for many of them, something that is always bound to happen when we are talking about a highly physical and brutal contact sport. But it is nothing compared to 2013 when 101 fighters had to step down from either practices or bouts. This year the number of injured contestants is around 50.
Some could claim that the bad luck for the upcoming event on the arena where it will be hosted. The last big show that was scheduled at the Mexico City Arena was between the Minnesota Timberwolves and the San Antonio Spurs. The NBA game had to be postponed when a generator malfunction outside the arena sent smoke pouring into the building less than an hour before the scheduled tip off.
So whatever it is, now that Cain, Diego and Joe have been ruled out of the first ever UFC showdown in Mexico City it will be interesting to see if the arena still sells out and what are the repercussions for the future of the sport south of the United States.