Everyone groans and exclaims when the big names get injured – there’s still weeping to be heard over Georges St. Pierre’s forced exit from UFC 137, and sobs can be heard all around the world over the news that Shane Carwin and Rich Franklin are both on ice over back- and shoulder injuries. But the Dreaded Injury Bug has bitten others, too. And while they may be lesser-known victims, sidelined from their participation in organizations that receive only a modicum of exposure and don’t employ an Octagon as a field of battle, these injured fighters’ absences from promised competition are woes that do still reverberate, albeit on a much smaller scale. So let us acknowledge them, here and now, and recognize that their loss to their respective organizations’ rosters does have an impact on us. They are the lost victims of the injury bug.
Zoila Frausto-Gurgel – Bellator’s one and only female champ, Frausto-Gurgel, was supposed to face Brazilian Carina Damm in a non-title affair at Bellator 57 – and with the bout slated for the main card, it was to be a pleasant reminder of the scrappy kickboxer-turned-MMA badgirl’s presence in a world decidedly lacking in female mixed martial arts. But then BAM! A torn ACL, and now she’s back on the shelf for an indeterminate amount of time, and with her goes our hopes of movement on the Bellator/lady fighters front.
Blagoi Ivanov – The lone shining star in Bellator’s Season Five heavyweight tournament quarterfinals was a Bulgarian samboist who once defeated Fedor Emelianenko at the Combat Sambo World Championships, a man named Ivanov who outclassed TUF castoff Zak Jensen and showed a wide range of boxing and grappling skills. Unfortunately, an undisclosed injury has put the kibosh on Ivanov moving any further in the tournament; instead, we get the runner-up of the last tournament, Neil Grove, who actually lost his quarterfinal bout to Mike Hayes (coincidently, Hayes is out with a busted orbital, and has been replaced by Thiago Santos). Oy to the vey!
Pedro Rizzo – Rizzo’s best days may have long past, and watching him compete now may only be slightly better than watching Ken Shamrock throw down, but he was still an intrinsic part of the marquee bout for ProElite 2 on November 5. That’s why his arm injury, and subsequent absence from the whole shindig, hurts. After all, who do we get in his place against Tim Sylvia? Some unknown named Andreas Kraniotakes. I cared just a little bit when it was Rizzo versus Sylvia in the main event; now I don’t care at all.
Guram Gugenishvili – M-1 Global’s undefeated heavyweight champion is supposedly “all that and a bag of chips”, and he was to rematch with Kenny Garner on last week’s edition of M-1 Global: “Kill All Americans” on Showtime. Too bad the ligaments in his elbow had other plans. As a result of Gugenishvili’s banishment to the sidelines, we were treated to Garner breathing hard all over stand-in Maxim Grishin for an unsatisfying interim heavyweight championship title.
John Hathaway – Okay, unlike the others on this list, Hathaway does fight in the UFC. But few seem to be mourning his absence from UFC 138, and that shouldn’t be the case. As a Brit fighter with wins over the likes of Rick Story and Diego Sanchez, and with Michael Bisping and Dan Hardy clearly at the apex of their Octagon careers and heading down, UK fans should be turning to Hathaway as the potential “next big thing across the pond” (which, admittedly, is like being the next big thing in the Special Olympics, but that’s beside the point). Yet no one seems to have noticed him and his hurt shoulder, hobbling to the doctor’s office. Did his lone career loss to Mike Pyle sour the public’s opinion on him that much? Or has the UK scene been marginalized to the point where it doesn’t matter who Brits have to root for? Regardless, UFC 138 is sans someone who could conceivably be a star in the future, and no one cares.