For the first time in 26 months, the UFC has cancelled an event.
Technically, the UFC's upcoming trip to Manila for Fight Night 97 is being "rescheduled" in light of the news that BJ Penn had been forced out of the card's main event with a rib injury, but no make-up date has been provided.
The announcement was made via the UFC's website:
UFC announced today that it will reschedule its UFC Fight Night event planned for Oct. 15 in Manila, Philippines due to the loss of the main event. Former UFC champion BJ Penn was forced to withdraw from the main event bout with Ricardo Lamas due to injury.
Athletes scheduled to compete on the Oct. 15 card will be rebooked at upcoming UFC events in the near future. Each athlete set to compete on Oct. 15 will also receive compensation due to the card being rescheduled. With its 2016 calendar finalized, UFC officials will discuss future dates for the event.
It's the first cancellation of an event since UFC 176, the first cancellation of the WME-IMG era, and the first time the UFC has ever cancelled an international event.
In the modern era of the UFC, there have only been two cards that were outright cancelled after losing their main event. The first was UFC 151, which was axed by the promotion after Jon Jones refused to accept a last-minute bout against Chael Sonnen when his original opponent, Dan Henderson, withdrew with a knee injury. The second was the aforementioned UFC 176 card, which met its maker when headliner Jose Aldo was forced out of his rematch with Chad Mendes due to a rib injury.
Since both event cancelations, the UFC has adapted, booking deeper fight cards, for the most part, in North America. The strategy is still evolving as the UFC expands into foreign markets.
So what's next for the world's premier mixed martial arts organization in one of the world's least developed markets? It's hard to say, but hopefully, it will all begin with a strong card when the UFC decides to return to Manila.
(lead image courtesy of Penn's Instagram)