Diego Sanchez has pulled out of his fight with Thiago Alves, which was scheduled to take place October 25 at UFC 90. Sanchez suffered a rib injury during training and will not be ready for the bout. Five Ounces is reporting that Josh Koscheck will take his place and battle Alves. While it is good news they found a quality replacement, it also hurts their December 10 Fight for the Troops card, where Koscheck was scheduled to face Yoshiyuki Yoshida. No word on a replacement for Koscheck. There is even some talk of Koscheck remaining on the December 10th card. That's a risky proposition considering it would mean fighting two high level bouts with less than 7 weeks between them. As we saw with Ken Shamrock, it does not take much for the doctors to pull the plug. I'm going to go ahead with the assumption that he will not be facing Yoshida and the UFC will soon announce a new main event.
With most of their top fighters already locked into contracts to fight on future cards, the UFC faces a problem they will be forced to deal with a lot in the future. They plan on adding more events in 2009 and it will become common place for two shows to take place in a month. With that kind of schedule, fewer of their fighters will be available to step in as an injury replacement. For Sanchez's replacement, they tapped a fighter already scheduled to fight. It seems in the future this tactic will have to be employed, unless they plan on adding a number of new fighters to their ranks.
The initial fight between Sanchez and Alves was seen as stepping stone for the next shot at the Welterweight Title. Substituting Koscheck for Sanchez should not change that. Koscheck is arguably more deserving of a title shot than Sanchez, who he beat at UFC 69. It is a tough break for Sanchez, but hopefully he can come back in 2009 and get back on track.
I have zero idea who they could throw into the fight with Yoshida that would keep it as the main event. Karo Parisyan is the obvious choice, but I'm not sure if the UFC has enough confidence in him because of his mental issues. He already pulled out of an earlier bout with Yoshida in September. A lot of people in and out of the business questioned whether he withdrew for the stated back injury or if his panic attacks had again gotten out of control. Promoting a main event and not delivering is a terrible option, as EliteXC so eloquently proved.
The more likely scenario is the UFC will scrap the main event and go in another direction. Nate Diaz might be their savior. There have been rumors linking him to the December 13th Ultimate Fighter 8 Finale, so fighting a few days earlier would not be a big deal. He is also relatively well known by most fans and has already been in a UFC main event. Put him against any of the other Lightweight contenders and you have yourself an entertaining fight to headline the show.