UFC 189: Did The Stakes Just Become Too High?
When UFC President Dana White, with Featherweight title contender Conor McGregor by his side, announced that Featherweight champion Jose Aldo had pulled himself from the UFC 189 card earlier tonight on ESPN, many fans were disappointed but not entirely surprised.
News broke last week of an apparent rib injury to Aldo, and the UFC announced that should Aldo not be able to compete, #1 ranked Featherweight Chad Mendes would face McGregor for the interim Featherweight title. But in all this breaking news, one comment from Dana White stood out to some (myself being one). White, when announcing the Mendes/McGregor bout would be for an interim title, stated that Aldo had pulled out of 5 title bouts, so the UFC are gonna make this for the interim title, with the winner fighting Aldo whenever he is healthy.
That statement on its own, pulling out of 5 title bouts, on its own would be startling, but it is not as simple as Aldo just pulling out of these bouts. A UFC champion since November 20, 2010, Aldo has competed, and defended his title, a total of 7 times over his current 4 and a half year reign, which averages out to about 1 and a half bouts per year. To look at it deeper, as of June 30th, Aldo has held the Featherweight crown for 1683 days, the longest title reign by almost 2 years currently in the UFC. His 7 bouts over this span average out to a match every 240 days (approximately 9 months). While this average isn’t great, comparing his schedule to other champions with similar reigns, it is not all that out of the ordinary:
Anderson Silva: 2457 days (appr. 6 and a half years), 15 total bouts, 10 title bouts, which is an average of 163 days (appr. 4 months) and 245 days for title defenses (appr. 9 months)
Georges St. Pierre: 2064 (appr. 5 and a half years), 9 title bouts, which is an average of 229 days (appr. 8 and a half months)
Jon Jones: 1501 days (appr. 4 years), 8 title bouts, which is an average of 187 days (appr. 6 months)
Dominick Cruz: 1117 days (appr. 3 years), 2 title bouts, which is an average of 558 days (appr. 1 and a half years)
Demetrious Johnson: 1007 days (appr. 3 years), 6 title bouts, which is an average of 167 days (appr. 5 and a half months)
Ronda Rousey: 932 days (appr. 2 and a half years), 5 title bouts, which is an average of 186 days (appr. 6 months)
Cain Velasquez: 896 days (appr. 2 and a half years), 3 title bouts, which is an average of 298 days (appr. 10 months)
Now while champions such as Demetrious Johnson and Ronda Rousey have competed at a higher rate than others, many of the fighters listed compete at a similar rate to Aldo. But if the rate of competition isn’t solid enough, many champions have been sidelined for various reasons during their title reign. Of the mentioned champions, the longest layoff for each between title defenses were:
Anderson Silva: 11 months (not including his bouts at Light Heavyweight)
Georges St. Pierre: 19 months
Jon Jones: 9 months
Dominick Cruz: 3 months
Demetrious Johnson: 7 months
Ronda Rousey: 7 months
Cain Velasquez: 20 months
UFC 149: Renan Barao defeats Urijah Faber, Cruz was injured on or about May 7, 2012. UFC 149 was held on July 21, 2012. Cruz was out of action for appr. 3 years, returning to action on September 27, 2014 at UFC 178.
UFC 180: Fabricio Werdum defeats Mark Hunt, Velasquez was injured on or about October 21, 2014. UFC 180 was held on November 15, 2014. Velasquez was out of action for appr. 7 months, returning to action on June 13, 2015 at UFC 188.
In Cruz’s and St. Pierre’s case, the interim title turned out be correct, but for fighters such as Serra and Velasquez, the time out of action wasn’t all that long. Keep in mind that Velasquez was out for a period of 1 year before this injury was announced, and was out of action due to his time spent coaching the debut season of TUF: Latin America. Not mentioned at all here though are former Lightweight champion Anthony Pettis, current Middleweight champion Chris Weidman, former Welterweight champion Johny Hendricks, and current Bantamweight champion TJ Dillishaw.
Besides Weidman, who has 3 title defenses over his 720 day title reign (with many delays in his bout due to injuries), the other 3 had a total of 4 title defenses in a combined 1224 days (Pettis 2 in 560 days, Hendricks 1 in 266 days and Dillishaw 1 in 398 days). Not all of these champions time off was of their own doing, but the same can be said for Aldo as well.
Looking at all of Aldo’s title defenses and matches postponed/cancelled due to Aldo or his opponent, the numbers show:
January 1, 2011 Aldo to face Josh Grispi. Aldo withdraws due to injury.
April 30, 2011: UFC 129, Aldo defends against Mark Hominick.
October 8, 2011: UFC 136, Aldo defends against Kenny Florian.
January 14, 2012: UFC 142, Aldo defends against Chad Mendes.
July 21, 2012: UFC 149, Aldo to face Eric Koch. Aldo withdraws due to injury
October 13, 2012: UFC 153, Aldo to face Eric Koch. Koch withdraws due to injury.
October 13, 2012: UFC 153, Aldo to face Frankie Edgar. Aldo withdraws due to injury.
February 2, 2013: UFC 156, Aldo defends against Frankie Edgar.
August 2, 2013: UFC 163, Aldo to face Anthony Pettis. Pettis withdraws due to injury.
August 2, 2013: UFC 163. Aldo defends against Chan Sung Jung.
February 1, 2014: UFC 169, Aldo defends against Ricardo Lamas.
August 2, 2014: UFC 176, Aldo expected to face Mendes. Aldo withdraws due to injury.
October 25, 2014: UFC 179, Aldo defends against Mendes.
July 11, 2015: UFC 189, Aldo expected to face McGregor. Aldo withdraws due to injury.
To read the entire article click Collateral Damage MMA
Written by: Jasyn Zangari