The chances of the UFC holding a live event to counter Strikeforce’s second CBS event appear to be increasing by the minute. Dave Meltzer is reporting the UFC has put together an entire fight card for April 17.
Dana White confirmed today via text that UFC has completed a card for April 17th. The Wanderlei Silva vs. Yoshihiro Akiyama match is not the main event. The only thing confirmed is they are trying to finalize a Matt Serra vs. Mike Swick semifinal fight today.
The report didn’t mention how it would be broadcast, but it’s probably safe to assume it would be a Spike TV card and not a pay-per-view. Speculation has been running rampant today that a Kimbo Slice vs. James Toney could headline the rumored card, however Kimbo’s manager Icy Mike says Kimbo’s plans to fight Matt Mitrione at UFC 113 haven’t changed and nothing is in the works to fight Toney. With the UFC holding three consecutive fight cards later this month and UFC 112 on April 10, their talent is already stretched pretty thin, so it’s anyone’s guess what the mystery main event will be.
What’s funny is this might end up backfiring on Zuffa. Josh Gross is reporting Strikeforce and CBS have the flexibility to push Strikeforce “Nashville” back a week to April 24, the same date as the WEC’s pay-per-view debut, and may do that if the UFC tries to counter-program them on April 17.
After officially announcing April 17 as the return for MMA on CBS, sources tell SI.com that CBS is willing to move the card back a week if, as rumored, the UFC decides to move ahead with counter-programing. That would put Strikeforce in direct competition with Zuffa’s first attempt at selling WEC on pay-per-view, and likely signal the commencement of major ground operations between the promotional companies.
It was initially thought that production of an April 24 MMA card on CBS was unlikely since the Showtime broadcast crew, led by producer David Dinkins Jr., was handling duties for the second round of the premium network’s Super Six 168-pound boxing tournament that night. But Kelly Kahl, the senior executive vice president of CBS prime time, told SI.com that it as his impression “things were fluid” regarding the production dates, though he didn’t know for certain.
If you have the option to go against a free UFC card or a $45 WEC card, you go with the latter all day, every day. Zuffa isn’t going to counter their own WEC pay-per-view with a live UFC card, so they might as well take the path of least resistance. Sure, it’s going to piss Zuffa off, but so what? You know they’re going to counter Strikeforce’s first pay-per-view with a free show regardless, so really what’s the difference? If you’re forced to fight, take your best shots while you can.
Update: Nothing is official yet, but word is getting around to the various media outlets that a live UFC event for April 17 in the works.
Though the company has not officially announced the event and it should not be considered a done deal, two separate sources with knowledge of the situation confirmed that the promotion has begun to ramp up its efforts over the last several hours and that Spike TV — the likely broadcast outlet for the show — has been informed of the decision.
Though several possible matchups have been buzzed about in recent days, MMA Fighting could not confirm the rumors of a Mike Swick vs. Matt Serra matchup. Swick has been out of the country on a trip to Thailand, just returning yesterday, and might need surgery on an injured arm. Serra, meanwhile, fought just one month ago and would prefer a return to action in the summer.
Another alleged rumor pitting Wanderlei Silva vs. Yoshihiro Akiyama seems unlikely, as sources close to Silva told MMA Fighting that he is hopeful of a chance to fight on UFC 116 because the event takes place on his birthday, July 3, and in his new hometown of Las Vegas.
Scott Coker has also confirmed they have the flexibility to move their event if need be. Apparently, they initially opted to play nice and not counter WEC 48, but if the UFC is going to counter them, all bets are off.
“CBS had an opportunity to do the fight on the 24th and go after the WEC pay-per-view date, and they said, ‘No, let’s just do it on the 17th and be nice guys.’ Now that the counter-programming is coming their way, I think there is some fluidity in what could happen.”
“It hasn’t been decided yet,” Coler said. “I think we’re meeting probably Monday. But for now, everything is going to be locked and loaded for the 17th.”
Looks like a high-stakes game of chicken for now.