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Showtime decision steams fighters

One of Zuffa executives’ favorite lines over the past few years was that the company had never had to cancel a show, regardless of the many obstacles involved in putting on live events.

Now, a second show has been called off in the span of a month. On Sunday, the Strikeforce card scheduled for Saturday in Sacramento, Calif., was canceled.

Lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez was set to defend his belt against Pat Healy in the main event, but Melendez suffered an injury during training and was forced to pull out.

Showtime decided it would not air an event that didn’t include Melendez, one of Strikeforce’s biggest stars.

“When Showtime informed us that it would not be airing the event, we made the difficult decision to cancel Saturday’s card in Sacramento,” Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker said in a statement. “Without a television partner, we simply could not move forward with this event.”

The next scheduled card for Strikeforce, which is owned by the Ultimate Fighting Championship under the Zuffa name, is Nov. 3 in Oklahoma City. Daniel Cormier is awaiting a replacement opponent for the main event after Frank Mir’s withdrawal last week because of injury.

Zuffa officials also canceled UFC 151, which had been scheduled for Sept. 1 in Las Vegas, when Dan Henderson was injured and light heavyweight champion Jon Jones refused to fight replacement opponent Chael Sonnen.

Several fighters criticized Jones for his role in that situation, and fighters again voiced displeasure on Twitter for another event being canceled.

“Zuffa canceling shows cause 1 dude gets hurt is (expletive) wack! Let the fighters fight. Corporate (expletives) with fat pockets. We need to eat,” Strikeforce lightweight Conor Heun posted, only to amend his opinion once he was informed the network made the decision. “Let me rephrase my earlier tweet. Showtime canceling the whole broadcast because one fighter is hurt is (expletive) wack.”

Jorge Gurgel, another Strikeforce lightweight, was supposed to compete on the card.

“I need this fight, I WANT this fight. I want TO fight. For me, for my family, my team. Please don’t do this to us,” he tweeted, later coming to terms with the fight being off. “It’s settling in. Medicals cost thousands of dollars (MRI/MRA, eye, blood, etc.) my whole family bought tickets, hotel at Sheraton, flights … no!”

■ JONES INJURES ARM – While Jon Jones dominated nearly every minute of his UFC light heavyweight title defense over Vitor Belfort in Toronto on Saturday night, he did have a scare when he was caught in what appeared to be a deep armbar in the first round.

Jones fought out of the submission attempt and went on to a fourth-round submission victory. The armbar might have done damage to his right arm, however, and Jones was in a sling at the news conference.

“We haven’t been able to get it X-rayed, but they think there might be some nerve damage in the bicep, but I don’t know,” Jones said.

He planned on waiting until he returned home to get his arm checked out. Jones first flew to Baltimore on Sunday to be in attendance as his brother Chandler of the New England Patriots played against his brother Arthur of the Ravens.

■ FLYWEIGHTS SHINE – UFC president Dana White was not happy with the smattering of boos during Demetrious Johnson’s split-decision win over Joseph Benavidez in the first-ever flyweight title bout Saturday, as the speed of both fighters made for a very technical bout.

“If you didn’t like that flyweight fight, please, I’m begging you, don’t ever buy another UFC pay per view again,” White said. “Don’t ever buy another one. I don’t want your money. You’re a moron, you don’t like fighting, and you don’t appreciate great talent or heart if you didn’t like that flyweight fight.”

Contact reporter Adam Hill at ahill@reviewjournal.com or 702-224-5509. Follow him on Twitter: @adamhilllvrj.

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