5 unfortunate incidents that threatened to overshadow entire UFC events

Chris Weidman
Chris Weidman's unfortunate leg injury threatened to overshadow UFC 261, which was a great event.
Scott Newman
Modified 26 Apr 2021
Top 5 / Top 10

This weekend saw one of the biggest UFC events of 2021 in the form of UFC 261, which featured three major title fights.

Although UFC 261 saw some epic fights and some amazing finishes, an unfortunate incident on the main card threatened to overshadow everything.

So with this in mind, here are five instances of unfortunate incidents that threatened to overshadow an entire UFC event.

#1 UFC 261 – Chris Weidman vs. Uriah Hall

Chris Weidman was taken away on a stretcher following a horrible leg injury in his fight with Uriah Hall.
Chris Weidman was taken away on a stretcher following a horrible leg injury in his fight with Uriah Hall.

UFC 261 turned out to be a fantastic event, with all five main bouts ending with violent finishes, including the three title matches at the top of the card.

However, an unfortunate injury to former UFC middleweight champ Chris Weidman threatened to overshadow the entire event.

Weidman was matched with Uriah Hall in the main card’s second bout, and the two veterans were expected to put on an exciting fight as they’d done in their first meeting in Ring of Combat in 2010.

However, the fight ended after just 17 seconds when Weidman’s leg snapped following an attempted leg kick that Hall didn’t even check.

Incredibly, the injury was almost identical to the one suffered by Anderson Silva in a fight with Weidman in 2013.

If anything, though, this one looked worse, as Weidman was instantly stretchered out, leaving Hall – who hadn’t even thrown a single strike – looking badly shaken up.

All of the headlines after UFC 261 were about the performances of Kamaru Usman and Rose Namajunas, but it was also hard to shake off the disturbing image of Weidman’s broken leg.

#2 UFC 46 – Randy Couture vs. Vitor Belfort

An unfortunate eye injury to Randy Couture completely overshadowed a strong UFC 46 event.
An unfortunate eye injury to Randy Couture completely overshadowed a strong UFC 46 event.

Right before its main event, 2004’s UFC 46 looked like it would go down as an instant classic UFC event.

The fans in attendance had been treated to a Fight of the Year contender in the form of Josh Thomson vs. Hermes Franca. They’d seen Lee Murray and Frank Mir pick up impressive and exciting wins.

And they’d also witnessed BJ Penn shock the world by dethroning longtime UFC welterweight champion Matt Hughes.

However, all of that was forgotten when the main event clash between Randy Couture and Vitor Belfort ended after less than a minute in highly unfortunate fashion.

Essentially, this was a freak ending of the highest order. Couture attempted to clinch Belfort at the same time as the Brazilian threw a left hand.

The punch missed, but somehow the stitching on Belfort’s glove caught Couture’s left eyelid and practically tore it off.

The fight was immediately stopped, meaning Belfort had won the UFC light heavyweight title without really doing much. And essentially, what had looked like a great event had been ruined.

Couture would regain his title from Belfort just seven months later, but the damage to UFC 46 had been done, and the show is now remembered badly by the UFC’s fanbase.

#3 UFC 259 – Petr Yan vs. Aljamain Sterling

Aljamain Sterling
Aljamain Sterling's controversial fight with Petr Yan overshadowed UFC 259.

UFC 259 featured three UFC title fights and should’ve provided plenty of talking points.

After all, the event saw Jan Blachowicz prevent Israel Adesanya from becoming a two-division champion and also saw Amanda Nunes pick up another victory, this time over Megan Anderson.

But sadly, all of this was overshadowed by the terrible ending to the UFC Bantamweight title fight between Petr Yan and Aljamain Sterling.

Yan was ahead on the scorecards going into the fourth round and looked all set to retain his title. But a huge error in judgment saw him hit Sterling with an illegal knee with less than a minute remaining in the stanza.

The Funk Master was clearly knocked silly, meaning the fight had to be stopped. That also meant Sterling became the first fighter to win a UFC title by disqualification.

The UFC’s fanbase seemed split after the event, with some decrying Yan’s avoidable error, while others claimed Sterling had milked the situation.

Regardless, this was a massively disappointing ending to what should’ve been a major title fight, and it ended up taking the shine from Blachowicz and Nunes too.

#4 UFC Fight Night 159 – Yair Rodriguez vs. Jeremy Stephens

Mexican UFC fans were irate when an eye poke ended Jeremy Stephens
Mexican UFC fans were irate when an eye poke ended Jeremy Stephens' fight with Yair Rodriguez.

The UFC has seen numerous fights end after unfortunate eye pokes over the years.

We’ve already looked at Couture vs. Belfort, while more recently, a main event fight between Leon Edwards and Belal Muhammad was also stopped due to a similar incident.

But comfortably, the worst eye poke incident took place in 2019, when Yair Rodriguez took on Jeremy Stephens in the main event of UFC Fight Night 159 in Mexico City.

The fight was a highly anticipated one but ended after just 15 seconds when an errant eye poke from Rodriguez left Stephens unable to continue.

What made the incident so unfortunate was Rodriguez’s unsporting reaction. He thought Stephens was milking the poke – and evidently, the pro-Rodriguez crowd agreed.

They began to throw trash into the octagon while raining boos down, aimed both at Stephens and the doctor who’d stopped the fight.

This was a highly unsavory ending to the show, and while the two men buried the hatchet a month later in a rematch, the UFC has not returned to Mexico since.

#5 UFC 24 – Kevin Randleman vs. Pedro Rizzo

Then UFC heavyweight champion Kevin Randleman injured himself at UFC 24, forcing the promotion to scrap the show
Then-UFC heavyweight champion Kevin Randleman injured himself at UFC 24, forcing the promotion to scrap the show's main event.

The period between UFC 22 and UFC 30 is commonly referred to as the Dark Ages, in reference to the fact that with the promotion under a cable ban, UFC shows became remarkably difficult to watch.

However, while the period saw some outstanding fights, the one event that UFC fans remember best would be UFC 24. And unfortunately, the show was memorable for the wrong reasons.

That’s because the entire event was overshadowed when its main event was canceled literally minutes before it was due to take place.

UFC heavyweight champion Kevin Randleman was backstage warming up for his title defense against Pedro Rizzo.

But somehow, The Monster slipped, hit his head on a pipe, and was knocked unconscious.

Randleman was taken by ambulance to a hospital, where he was diagnosed with a concussion, and UFC 24 – ironically subtitled First Defense – suddenly found itself without a main event.

In the end, the heavyweight bout between Tedd Williams and Steve Judson – hardly a star-power-filled affair – ended the show, leaving UFC fans highly disappointed.

The incident is seen as funny to look back on today, but at the time, it was almost a symbol of the UFC’s constant struggles – and it certainly overshadowed UFC 24 entirely.

Published 26 Apr 2021
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