I first came across this story on UFCMania.com, which is that Mike Chiapetta from NBCSports.com is reporting that Joe Stevenson suffered a broken jaw during his decision victory over Kurt Pellegrino at UFC 74 this past Saturday. According to Chiapetta, Stevenson suffered the injury in the first round.
There’s been a lot of speculation that Stevenson earned himself a match with B.J. Penn at UFC 78 in Newark, NJ on November 17 with the win. However, the UFC has yet to announce any plans for such a match. If they are considering putting it together, there’s no word on how Stevenson’s broken jaw would affect the matchup.
If a match between Stevenson and Penn is booked, it could be for the UFC lightweight title. The UFC has no plans to strip Sean Sherk of the title until his appeal hearing takes place before the California State Athletic Commission in October but UFC president Dana White has said that he’ll be stripped of the title if the suspension is upheld.
If Stevenson is healthy, one workaround to the situation would be to book the match between the two and add the title stipulation to it later if Sherk’s suspension is upheld. For the record, CSAC has never overturned a suspension so Sherk’s odds of retaining the title past October are unlikely, unless he files for another continuance.
As of now, UFC 78 is without a main event match. It remains to be seen if Stevenson vs. Penn would be received as a main event by the New Jersey, New York, and Philadelphia audience. It’s been a long time since there’s been a UFC event in the Northeastern corridor and fans in the area might be expecting more than a potential main event between the two.
There really doesn’t seem to be a lot of obvious candidates to headline the card. Andrei Arlovski has just one fight left under his UFC contract and it is believed that the UFC is delaying the scheduling of the last match of his contract because other promotions will have strong interest in him.
Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira is not booked for a fight but outside of Arlovski, all the top heavyweights are booked for the near future.
There’s always the rematch between Tito Ortiz and Rashad Evans. It had been thought that the two would fight at UFC 77 on October 20 in Cincinnati but a bout agreement has yet to be signed. Ortiz is waiting until his back feels better before committing to a match but he has also made it known that he’d like the match to happen in Vegas.
As of now, the next UFC pay-per-view in Vegas is not scheduled until Dec. 29. Ortiz might be fighting a losing battle in trying to get booked for that show because it’s believed that Matt Serra vs. Matt Hughes will be one of the headline matches with the long-awaited match between Wanderlei Silva vs. Chuck Liddell possibly being the other, assuming Liddell defeats Keith Jardine at UFC 76 on September 22 in Anaheim, Calif. Having Liddell, Hughes, Silva, and Ortiz all on the same card might be a little too expensive plus it would take away from the strength of cards held right before or just after the December event.
Ortiz’s public comments about fighting in Vegas are very interesting. Under his current contract he gets a bonus for the amount of PPVs sold for any card he’s on. Is he trying to make a slick business move and trying to get on a card that could potentially set record PPV buys for a UFC show?