The UFC has a history of counter-programming their competition, that is, putting on their own show opposite the competition’s. When Affliction debuted on July 19, 2008 headlined by Fedor Emelianenko vs. Tim Sylvia on pay-per-view, the UFC threw together a full night of fights on Spike including Anderson Silva’s light heavyweight debut. Most recently they aired bouts from UFC 100 on Spike only a month after the event, to counter Strikeforce: Carano vs. Cyborg. It stood to reason they would try to do something along those line when Emelianenko makes his Strikeforce debut, in fact UFC president Dana White had already said publicly that they had in the works a third November event to be headlined by BJ Penn vs. Diego Sanchez, and hinted that it would air on network television. That bout eventually landed on UFC 107 in December instead, replacing the scheduled headliner of Quinton “Rampage” Jackson vs. “Sugar” Rashad Evans, and MMAJunkie found out why from White himself:
“Thanks to [expletive] B.A. Baracus, I couldn’t [expletive] pull it off,” White said. “B.A. [expletive] me. The collateral damage that was done by him doing this thing was unbelievable.”
“You have no idea how much collateral damage was done by [Jackson] pulling out of this thing. It literally screwed up the rest of our year. We’ve got B.J. Penn fighting in Memphis, you know what I mean?”
“What happens is, [Jackson] calls up and says he’s doing this movie. I said, ‘No, you’re not. You’re going to fight Rashad in December. You do whatever you want to do after this fight. You want to retire and become an actor? You want to join the monastery? I don’t care what you do after this fight, but ‘Rampage,’ you’re going to fight this fight.’
“He said, ‘OK.’ Then he had his manager fly in from England and met me at the hangar before I was leaving to go out of town to tell me that he wasn’t going to (fight Evans). [Rampage] and I haven’t talked since.”
White and Jackson will hopefully settle their differences, and we will get to see Jackson and Evans inside the Octagon in the near future. However, the ripple effect caused by one man pulling out of a fight shows how fragile the plans for a major MMA promotion can be.