UFC Cutting Fighters

What is taking place?  Who has been cut?  Why have they been cut?  Who should be cut?  Wh shouldn’t be cut? What fighters are on the chopping block? 

The UFC had over 200 fighters under contract.  Just recently the UFC has decided to start cutting fighters to allow the better fighters to fight more often.  In the recent weeks the UFC has cut Jake O’Brien, David Heath, Din Thomas, Kalib Starnes, Travis Lutter, John Halverson, Soa Palelei, Tommy Speer, and Kuniyoshi Hironaka.  They allowed Cro Cop and Tim Sylvia out of their contracts and have not yet re-signed Arlovski.  They are about to loose Tito Ortiz.  The goal of the UFC brass is to get down to the 150-160 range of contracted fighters.  This means there are more cuts to come.  Many fights on upcoming cards are do or die fights.  Let me sound my opinion…

  • I understand what the UFC is trying to do, and I too want to see the best fight more often
  • The options are either to have more events with more fights on the fight cards or release some fighters
  • If the UFC has 200 fighters under contracts and hold 18 fight events annually with 10 fights per card that means there will be 180 fights, with 360 fighters in action annually.  That means some fighters will only fight once per year.  That doesn’t cut it.  They need 3-4 fights a year to susatain their career.

With that in mind…

  • I don’t agree with all the cuts that have been made.  For example, Jake O’Brien was undefeated in the UFC, then he looses to Arlovski and he is cut.  He was a top 10-15 UFC heavyweight.  The heavyweight divison is hurting bad now.  That is the worst move of all.  Hironaka just won fight of the night in a loss to Goulet and he was cut.  Din Thomas was a top 15 lightweight and he was cut.  I think Tommy Speer deserved one more chance to prove himself. 
  • I understand cutting Starnes and kind of understand cutting Lutter and Doerksen. 
  • I don’t understand why Dana White will let Sylvia and Cro Cop out of their contacts, but won’t let Couture
  • There are some fighters would could be cut and the UFC will not miss them

Who is in danger?

The bottom line is the next few UFC events for many guys will be do or die.  This will make for some exciting fights as no one wants to be fired, but it cannot be a constant issue as we do not want fighters to look over their shoulders because they are bound to lose eventually. So who is in danger?

UFC 84

  • Christian Wellisch
  • Jason Tan
  • Dong Hyun Kim
  • Jon Koppenhaver
  • Yoshiyuki Yoshida
  • Rousimar Palhares
  • Ivan Salaverry
  • Kazuhiro Nakamura
  • Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou
  • Antonio Mendes

UFC 85

  • Jess Liaudin
  • Paul Taylor
  • Paul Kelly
  • Roan Carneiro
  • Jason Lambert

TUF 7 Finale

  • Jeremy Horn
  • Drew McFedries
  • Dustin Hazelett
  • Evan Tanner
  • Kendall Grove

Nearly half those guys will be cut

What standard should be used to decide to gets cut.  The problem is some guys are going to lose, should they be cut for one loss?  Here would be my standard…

  • Exciting fighter.  This earned Koppenhaver and Rollins a chance and may give them one more fight.  You can lose well.  The UFC wants exciting fighters.  The lack of excitment got Starnes cut.  Dana has always said he would reward exciting fights.  This could keep a guy like Terry Etim or Paul Taylor around even if they loose.  I would can boring fighters who refuse to engage.
  • Popular fighter.  I would not cut a more popular fighter because they could be a draw.  They need to look at the fan base before cutting.  That could save a guy like Kendall Grove or Jeremy Horn.
  • Ranked fighter.  I would not cut a top 20 fighter in the world.  That should save Sokodjou and Nakamura. 
  • Experienced figher.  You give the MMA vets an extra shot.  That again would spare Jeremy Horn even with a loss
  • Classy Figher.  MMA needs good ambassadors.  I would keep around classy guys and emphasize character if I was looking to sign people.  That has worked in other sports.  Many teams won’t trade for, sign or draft a troubled athelete even if they are talented because they are a liability.  MMA needs to target young people and if they want credibility they need to have class act guys in a controversial sport.  Punk fighters should be booted before classy guys. 
  • Potential fighter.  Shane Carwin is highly touted it he loses he needs to stay.  Brock Lesnar was in the same boat as was Velasquez.  If they are highly touted you give them a chance and let them prove themselves. 
  • Not All Losses Are Equal.  You cannot fault a guy for fighting good competition.  Imagine if Sokoudjou losses to Nakamura, there is chatter that he would be cut.  He would have lost to two quality guys in Machida and Nakamura.  I don’t expect him to lose, but he is universally ranked in the top ten in the world.  Dan Henderson has lost 2 in a row in the UFC.  Some say Wanderlai could even be in trouble, but you cannot can him for losses to Liddell and Jardine.  My opinion you keep some guys no matter what.  If Henderson fights Rich Franklin next he could easily lose that making him 0-3 in the UFC.  My tohughts would be give him a second tier guy to prove he is worth it.  If he loses then cut him, the same with Wanderlai and Sokodjou.  They did that with Cro Cop. 
  • Adequate opportunity.  I think if the UFC signs someone and gives them a fight you give them a chance to win.  Guys like Carwin, Wain, Palhares, Carneiro may lose their first fight.  Give them one more chance.  You want to develop talent and not ruin it.
  • Winability.  Like my new word?  It means do they have the skills to win?  I think UFC fighters need to be able to have a winning record.  There is no need for guys that will just get beat

The bottom line is cuts need to be made, but only cut those who have no heart and cannot compete at that level.  That is why using the Zuffa owned WEC as a farm system is a great idea.  Send the guys that need to improve down to WEC and bring the best of the WEC into the big leagues.



My UFC 81 Predictions

Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira vs. Tim Sylvia

UFC 81 presents some of the toughest predictions which I worry about being wrong about a lot of fights.  This is a tough fight.  Overall Nogueira is the better fighter, but Tim Sylvia is a former UFC champ. I am reluctant to pick Big Nog becuase he didn’t look impressive at all against Heath Herring and because Randy Couture picked Tim Sylvia and he has an uncanny ability to pick fights.  However, I have to pick the guy who I feel is better.  My question for Syliva is are his better days behind him?  He lost bad to Randy Couture.  He didn’t look great against Vera, but he did look better than Vera.  Tim will still have about a 5 inch reach advantage, but he won’t have the reach advantage he did against Vera and Couture, and he won’t have the strength advantage either.  If the fight stays in the clinch or on the ground I look for Nogueira to win.  I hope he learned from Randy. 

Brock Lesnar vs. Frank Mir

This is another hard fight to pick because of relative unknowns.  I do know this…Brock Lesnar is a great athelete and world class wrestler. Frank Mir doesn’t seem to have the same passion he once did, but he is great with submissions.  I am so torn with this fight.  Experience goes to Frank Mir.  Strength goes to Brock Lesnar.  I am going to go out on a limb and pick Brock by knockout.  I think if he gets on the ground he can ground and pound Mir and hold his own with submission defense.  If Mir gets Brock in an arm bar Brock can just curl it.  Lesnar is the strongest and bukiest fighter the UFC has seen.  I still do not know if he can cut it in the big time.  The UFC is gambling with him, and seems to want to market him.   I hear he is for real.   My bigger question though would be will Brock Lesnar pass a steroids test?

Nate Marquardt vs. Jeremy Horn

This may be one of the best fights.  Jeremy Horn is maybe the most experienced MMA fighter in the world.  What a good replacement for Leites.  We seem to have forgotten that before Nate’s loss to Anderson Silva many thought he was the best and had a good chance at beating Anderson.  He is still and world class grappler.  I think Jeremy Horn is a tough match up though, especially with striking and experience.  However, I look for Nate to rebound and win by submission.

Tyson Griffin vs. Gleison Tibau

My pick for fight of the night.  Many of us know about Tyson Griffin, but Tibau is a great fighter.  This fight is huge.  The winner moves into the top 10 talk of the lightweight divison, the other takes a step back.  Tibau has only one big win and that was over Terry Etim.  Griffin has wins over Clay Guida and Thiago Tavares, while they were good fights, he didn’t dominate or win by much.  Griffin is tough as nails and he has never been submitted or knocked out.  I will pick Tyson Griffin, just because Tibau is unproven and because Tyson trains with Randy (enough said). 

Alan Belcher vs. Ricardo Almeida

Almeida is for real.  He hasn’t fought since 2004 so that is the real question for him, however he holds wins over Nate Marquardt and Ryo Chonan.  Alan Belcher is a good fights.  He last beat Kalib Starnes by ref stoppage due to a huge cut that went to Starnes’ skull.  The outcome depends on the pace of the fight.  A slow fight favors Almeida, but a stand up battle favors Belcher.  I want Almeida to win and comeback because he is good for the middleweight divison, however it has been four years.  What the heck, I pick Almeida by either submission or unanimous decision.

Terry Martin vs. Marvin Eastman

The question this fight will answer is before Chris Leben was Terry Martin uverrated.  I will grant that he got caught against Leben and almost won that fight.  Eastman is big and can hit hard.  Size won’t be much of a difference.  Terry Martin is younger if that matters.  Marvin Eastman has the experience and has fought a lot of good fighters throughout his career.  I would like to see a rejuvenated Marvin Eastman.  However, I think Terry Martin will pull out a win here.

David Heath vs. Tim Boetsch

On paper this is the fight that I could least care about.  David Heath is okay, but hasn’t done great in the UFC.  I wonder how the late notice with affect Boetsch?  I think this is a gimmer for David Heath who has little chance of making any noise in the light heayweight divison. 

Chris Lytle vs. Kyle Bradley

Chris Lytle has fought well against some good guys.  He lost a split decision to Matt Serra.  He went the distance with Matt Hughes.  I have to pick Chris Lytle over the unknown Kyle Bradley.

Rob Emerson vs. Keita Nakamura

Japanese fighters just haven’t done well in the UFC.  I do not like Rob Emerson.  I believe he got lucky that Gray Maynard knocked himself out because Emerson was done!  Emerson lost more TUF fights than you can shake a stick at.  He is a punk.  He should be locked up in jail for his gang and him beating up on some random guy.  Anyways, I am picking Keita out of pure spite for Emerson.  I hope this seals his exit from the UFC for good.

What to expect in MMA in ’08

  • I expect to see new title holders in every division but one and that is the middleweight.  All though Anderson could be challenged by Dan Henderson.  My picks for the title holders: Nogueira, Not sure about lightheavyweight, Anderson Silva, St. Pierre, and B.J. Penn.
  • I expect to see a few more fighters signed to UFC contracts.  Highlighting the list: Matt Lindland, Gilbert Melendez, Jake Shields, and some other big name surprise
  • I expect TUF to be a disappointment with Rampage Jackson getting a lot of camera time saying his crazy off the wall things
  • I expect the middleweight division to get tougher
  • I expect a few UFC stars to retire (Matt Hughes and Rich Franklin)
  • I expect Sean Sherk to get another title shot, but B.J. Penn to beat him badly
  • I expect the light heavyweight division to get crazier with guys like Machdia, Thiago Silva, Rashad Evans, and Shogun in the title mix.
  • I expect Chuck Liddell to avenge his loss to Keith Jardine by summer
  • I expect that Shogun is still only one fight away from a title shot, I think that my top ten in the lightheavyweight at the top ten at light heavyweight, perhaps not in that order.
  • I expect Dan Henderson to try Anderson Silva like he hasn’t been tried in a while
  • I expect Jon Fitch, Kenny Florian, Sean Sherk, Roger Huerta, Matt Lindland, and either Arlovski or Cro Cop to get a title shot. 
  • I expect the former PRIDE guys to turn it around in the octagon
  • I expect another solid fight from Wanderlai Silva, can you say rematch?
  • I expect the Fedor vs. Randy fight to happen
  • I expect other organizations to become more of a competition to the UFC
  • I expect Dana White to say many more expletives on national television
  • I expect TUF alums to suceed this year even more
  • I expect Diego Sanchez to drop to lightweight
  • I expect Brock Lesnar to be a middle of the road fighter
  • I expect Brandon Vera to drop to lightheavyweight
  • I expect Bisping to cry when he gets beat in middleweight
  • I expect Tito to loose in the Apprentice

Title Picture at UFC’s Light Heavyweight Divison

Okay, so what does the title picture look like at the light heavyweight division.  We know the champ and who is considered the number one contender.  I will rank the guys in order of who deserves a title shot.  Obviously, they are not going to just line up an go in this order, some will get knocked off.  Also, this is different from my rankings, I don’t think for example, Forrest Griffin in the second best UFC light heavyweight.

1. Quinton Rampage Jackson

2. Forrest Griffin

3. Wanderlai Silva

4. Thiago Silva

5. Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou

6. Lyoto Machida

7. Mauricio “Shogun” Rua

8. Keith Jardine

9. Chuck Liddell

10. Rashad Evans

11. Tito Ortiz

12. Dan Henderson

13. Houston Alexander

 If my line of thinking is anywhere near that of Dana White the Wanderlia Silva/Chuck Liddell fight has huge implications.  Chuck can move up some, not enough to fight for the title, but if he wins, maybe even if he loses I think he will get Jardine again.  Sokodjou and Machida fight has huges implication as the winner may be one fight away from a title shot. I’d like to see Thiago Silva and Shogun fight with the winner getting the Sokoudjou/Machida winner. And the winner of that fight getting the Griffin/Jackson winner.  Looks as if they are 6-10 guys lined up for a chance at the belt.  Could a Griffin win equate a Shogun rematch instantly?  I believe a Jackson win and a Wanderlai win would make an instant chance for Rampage to avenge his two losses to Wanderlai.   He wants to beat those former PRIDE guys and prove something to them.  By the way, hasn’t the UFC done a beautiful job cleaning out PRIDE’s light heavyweight division?

UFC Fighter Rankings

Where do fighters rank in the UFC?  I’ve seen all sorts of thoughts on rankings, so I will chime in and give my rankings, which of course are the best and most accurate.  I am using a few guidelines.

  • This is strictly UFC, not including fighters not yet signed in UFC from Pride.  For example, Fedor would be on or near the top of the Heavyweight rankings, but he is yet to sign so he is not included
  • This is based not on popularity or even record, but purely on who I perceive to be the best fighters
  • I am putting the title holders at number one in each weight class, even though they might not be the best in that class, for example, I would not have Matt Serra as the best fighter in his class, but he is the belt holder.
  • Some fighters are rising quickly and others are falling quickly (i.e. Tito and Cro Cop)


1. Randy “The Natural” Couture

2. Andrei “The Pitbull” Arlovski

3. Gabriel Gonzaga

4. Cheick Kongo

5. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira

6. Tim Sylvia

7. Mirko “Cro Cop”

8. Brandon Vera

9. Frank Mir

10. Jeff Monson 

11. Heath Herring

12. Fabricio Werdum

13. Assuerio Silva

(Note: Fedor, Josh Barnett, and even Aleksander Emelianko may have made the list had they signed. )


1. Quinton “Rampage” Jackson

2. Mauricio “Shogun” Rua

3. Dan Henderson

4. Chuck “The Iceman” Liddell

5. Wandelai Silva

6. Rashad Evans

7. Houston Alexander

8. Tito Ortiz

9. Keith “The Dean of Mean” Jardine

10. Forrest Griffin

11. Rogerio “Minotoro” Nogueira

12. Matt “The Hammer” Hamill

13. Micael Bisping

14. Ryoto Machida

15. Jason Lambert

16. Stephan Bonnar

17. Renato “Babalu” Sorbal

18. Wilson Gouveia

19. Marvin Eastman

(Note: I put Hamill above Bisping because I believe he beat Bisping in their fight.  Even though Bisping got the win, Hammil looked better.)


1. Anderson Silva

2. Rich Franklin

3. Yushim Okami

4. Terry Martin

5. Nate Marquardt

6. Dan Henderson

7. Jason MacDonald

8. Patrick Cote 

9. Kalib Starnes

10. Chris Leben

11. Martin Kampmann

12. Thales Leites

13. Ivan Salaverry

14. Nate “Rock” Quarry

15. Evan Tanner

16. Kendall Grove

17. Ed Herman

18. Travis Lutter

19. Dean Lister

20. Alessio Sakara


1. Matt Serra

2. Georges St. Pierre

3. Matt Hughes

4. Diego Sanchez

5. Karo Parisyan

6. Josh Koschek

7. Jon Fitch

8. B.J. Penn

9. Marcus Davis

10. Mike Swick

11. Thiago Alves

12. Josh Burkman

13. Luigi Fioravanti

14. Nick Diaz

15. Chris Lytle

16. Edilberto “Crocota” de Oliveira

17. Jonathan Goulet


1.  Sean Sherk

2. B.J. Penn

3. Joe “Daddy” Stevenson

4. Roger Huerta

5. Kenny Florian

6. Hermes Franca

7. Nick Diaz

8. Joe Lauzon

9.  Din Thomas

10. Marcus Davis

11. Clay Guida

12. Spencer Fisher

13. Frank Edgar

14. Melvin Guillard

15. Drew Fickett

16. Kurt Pellegrino

17. Terry Etim

18. Tyson Griffin

19. Marcus Aurelio

20. Sam Stout

21. Tiago Tavares

22. Nate Diaz

(Note: I listed to 22 because there are so many quality fighters and the last 12-15 of these guys are not far from one another in ranking,  Some rankings have my number 19 Marcus Aurelio much higher, but come on, whose he gonna bump down?)

 Let the disputing begin.  I’d love to hear comments.  Perhaps I left someone off included someone I shouldn’t have.  Perhaps I have someone overrated or another underrated.  Let me know what you think.