For those of you who are not necessarily familiar with how plays are called in the game of football, it goes something like this. A coordinator (offensive or defensive) calls a play; said play is given to the head coach for approval or disapproval, and from there, should the play at hand get approved, it’s then communicated to the unit captain on the field, who in turn communicates it to his teammate to be executed on the upcoming down. Some plays work, some do not, but what stands out in that scenario is everyone involved is in accordance with what’s about to take place.
Some formations or cadences that the coaches and coordinators may not see from the sidelines may spark concern with the team captain, who as a result, audibles out of the original play in to something that is conducive to countering what the opposing team is set to attempt.
Now, remember just a few short days ago, when it was reported that former heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez was forced out of UFC 196’s main event against current champion Fabricio Werdum and second ranked title contender Stipe Miotic would step in to save the card? Well clearly there was a lack of communication between the champion and UFC’s front office because literally a day after Velasquez announced his withdrawal from the fight, Werdum followed suit, pretty much to a tee.
The champion announced Monday that he too would not be available to compete at UFC 196 due to a back injury of his own.
“I was already injured,” Werdum told MMAFighting.com. “I have a foot injury and haven’t been able to throw kicks in training for two weeks. I would still fight Cain because I was injured the last time, but I also hurt my back last Friday. I went to the doctor, tried to continue training, but couldn’t spar as I should spar.
“I decided not to fight because I’m not 100 percent. If Cain was the opponent, I would go on. It’s not his fault. It’s nobody’s fault. Injuries happen. You can’t avoid them. I have no option. I made this decision because I’m not feeling 100 percent.”
So the champion would still fight with these injuries if Velasquez was available to fight, but he cannot defend his belt against a replacement to save a pay-per-view? I can understand wanting the rematch with Velasquez, considering the level of comfort established as a result of a dominant performance over the former champion in the first outing, but as a champion, are you not supposed to be ready to fight, knowing that cards are subjected to change?
As a result of Werdum’s decision, UFC 196, in a matter of three days, has transformed from its original state of a Pay-Per-View event, to a Fox Sports 1 card, a Welterweight division clash between Johny “Bigg RIgg” Hendricks and Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson.
At least UFC was able to come up with an alternative and the card will continue, albeit a different platform than originally booked. Plus, fighters booked for the Super Bowl Eve card will not lose out on a pay day and fight fans will get their annual pre-Super Bowl, MMA fix before the big game kicks off.
Can this revised card live up to the expectations of the original? Will anything further come from this series of alterations? Only time will tell!
Written by Antoine Hoffman