Perhaps Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) and its unapologetic president, Dana White, had reason to assure mixed martial arts (MMA) fans that the upcoming UFC on Fuel TV 9 fight card "is still the same" as recently as yesterday.
That's because Alexander Gustafsson, who was set to headline the event at Ericsson Globe Arena in Stockholm, Sweden, this Saturday afternoon (April 6, 2013) against Gegard Mousasi, only required three stitches to close the facial laceration that he suffered in training last Thursday (March 28, 2013).
"The Mauler," according to Ariel Helwani on FUEL TV's latest episode of "UFC Tonight" this evening (April 2, 2013), slipped during a wrestling drill and hit his face against the cage -- it was not caused by a punch. Naturally, Gustafsson headed to the local hospital and had the wound treated and sutured shut.
Afterward, he notified the Swedish MMA Federation about the injury, which was obviously concerned about Gustafsson's ability to compete under its jurisdiction. As we reported over the weekend, Federation officials sent Gustafsson to an approved doctor to make an initial assessment, which revealed that he was "100 percent" unfit to fight "Dream Catcher" in just one week.
Regardless, Gustafsson was instructed to return for re-evaluation today because a Swedish national holiday -- not April Fools Day -- prevented a Monday morning confirmation. Meanwhile, White and Co., perhaps going off the three-stitch news, remained confident and seemingly defiant that the show would go on as planned.
It won't after the Federation today reaffirmed that "Alexander Gustafsson will not be allowed to participate in the planned match on April 6th." The promotion was forced to scramble and apparently didn't have to look too far, tapping Gustafsson's 5'8" friend and training partner, Ilir Latifi, to fill his 6'4" clogs (read more here) opposite Mousasi.
That's certainly not the main event that Swedish fans saved up their krona to see, but the fine print unfortunately always bears the disappointing fine-print disclaimer, "Fight Card Subject to Change."
The good news is that Gustafsson, who is currently riding a six-fight win streak inside the Octagon after dropping his sophomore effort to Phil Davis at UFC 112 way back in 2010, is expected to make a quick recovery. In fact, the report indicated that the surging Light Heavyweight contender could be cleared to return to action in about two to three weeks.
Got any bright match-making ideas?