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 82 Predictions

 John Halverson vs. Jorge Gurgel

Jorge Gurgel is tough.  I think Gurgel is an excellent fighter and is good ont he ground.  I think Gurgel will win by submission in round two. 

Luke Cummo vs. Luigi Fiorvanti 

Luigi Fiorvanti is a hard hitting crowd favorite. I don’t think he is a top tier guy, but I think he is going to KO Luke Cummo in the second round. 

Diego Sanchez vs. David Bielkheden 

Diego has lost two in a row.  He chose not to drop to lightweight, which I think is a good decision for him, however if he looses here he better drop.  I doubt he will loose.  He should win this fight and I think he will win it easily.  He will win via ref stoppage in round one.  Again, sometimes fighters overlook guys, but this seems to be a fight the UFC set up to get Diego back on track. 

Josh Koscheck vs. Dustin Hazelett 

Josh Koscheck has looked good in every fight he has been in except the St. Pierre fight.  This is a tough fight for him coming off a loss.  Hazelett is no push over.  He has a lot riding on this fight.  If he wins he climbs the ladder.  Hazelett is coming off a win vs. Goulet.  While Dustin is a good fighter I would be hard pressed to pick against Koscheck.  I pick Josh Koscheck by a rear naked choke late in the second round. 

Andrei Arlovski vs. Jake O’Brien 

This fight is main card worthy.  Arlovski has not looked great lately.  Jake O’Brien hasn’t fought for a while.  I think O’Brien is better than people give him credit for an he is a legit top ten heavyweight.  He has a great record.  However, Arlovski is a former champ.  The question for him is whether or not he cares about winning.  Has he trained hard or is he just fighting here to fulfill his contract?  Is he wanting to leave with a bang?  Is he wanting to convince the UFC that he is worth big bucks in a new contract?  Is he trying to market himself to another organization?  Does he want a quick KO so the fight may get on the televised card?  If I knew those answers I could pick this fight better.  Because Arlovski cannot just coast through this fight.  I am tempted to pick O’Brien, however it is tough to pick against Arlovski.  O’Brien beat Heath Herring in his last fight.  I don’t know how he will look with over a year off.  I am still going to pick Arlovski although a O’Brien win would not shock me and would be great for him.  If Arlovski plans on staying in the UFC I hope he wins.  He will get the next title shot.  If he plans on leaving I hope he gets KO’d. 

Chris Leben vs. Alessio Sakara

This is going to be a war.  I doubt it wil last past one round.  Both guys love to strike. Leben showed a lot in his win against Terry Martin.  He was rocked when he KO’s Martin.  Leben is tough.  This fight is tough to pick because it will come down to who gets rocked first and while there is some skill involved I think there is a lot of luck.  I do not think leben is as good as he or many others think, however he is heavy handed.  Sakara has fought bigger and stronger guys than Leben.  I know that Leben will be the favorite, but there has to be an upset somewhere, so I am going to pick Alessio Sakara via second round KO.

Jon Fitch vs. Chris Wilson

Don’t overlook Chris Wilson in this fight.  I hear rumblings about how good he is.  A win here and Jon Fitch will get a title shot.  Karo Parisyan has to be rooting for Chris Wilson because the only way he gets the nest title shot is a Fitch loss.  It could happen.  I am close to picking Wilson in the upset.  The UFC could use another good welterweight fighter.  However, I cannot pick an unproven fighter over a proven fighter.  I like Jon Fitch and think he will win this fight by split decison.  In loosing I also think Wilson will solidfy himself as a top ten fighter in the UFC’s welterweight divison. 

Yushin Okami vs. Evan Tanner

The bottom line with this fight is that there are too many unknowns.  How will Evan Tanner do after such a long lay off?  I do not know why he is being thrown in against a top 5 middleweight fighter.  Okami is big and strong.  I think you can bet on a slow paced fight that Okami will control.  He could even capitalize on a mistake Tanner makes.  If Evan Tanner comes out liekt he Evan of old he could win, but he better win early.  The longer this match goes the more it favors Okami.  I predict Tanner will look rusty at best and Okami will get on him and control him for three rounds.  I will pick Okami by unanimous decison. 

 Cheick Kongo vs. Heath Herring

Heath Herring looks refocused.  Cheick Kongo beat Cro Cop.  The question I want answered here is whether or not Kongo can consistently beat top tier fighters.  There is much talk that the next title fight will not be Werdum, but Kongo if he wins here.  Regardless I do not think Kongo is ready for a title shot, but because of the way things have happened he is in the mix with a win.  Heath Herring hit Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira hard and nearly beat him.  The ref could have stopped that fight.   Heath Herring may be a top ten UFC Heavyweight, but I do not think he can beat Kongo.  Checik is so huge and strong that will pose a problem.  I look for Checik Kongo to win via strikes in the first round. 

Dan Henderson vs. Anderson Silva 

On paper this match is one of the best fights you could imagine.  Of course how it plays out in the octagon is a different story.  I believe this fight will live up to hype.  Dan Henderson will be the toughest match up for Anderson Silva in the UFC.  Rich Franklin is a great fighter, but his style seemed perfect for Anderson to walk through.  Dan Henderson is a different story.  Dan Henderson is tough, I mean never been knocked out tough.  He has fought the best fighters in the world, so he has the experience.  Dan Henderson is great in the clinch.  He is a good wrestler and a good ground and pound guy.  However, Anderson Silva can kick hard and he can submit a guy.  This is a tough fight to predict.  I really like Anderson Silva.  He is a class act.  He is tough to beat.  This fight is pivotal for the UFC.  If Anderson Silva wins this fight the UFC will be forced to go out and sign someone else like Fliho, Lindland, Lawler or Jason “Mayhem” Miller.  If Dan Henderson wins this fight I look for Wanderlai Silva to drop down and seek revenge for Dan beating him and taking his belt.  Of course the is a  tough fight to pick because you never know how the fight will go.  I will pick Dan Henderson by third round stoppage.   I do not see Anderson knocking Dan out.  His one chance I see is to submit him a la Travis Lutter.  I will pick Dan because I need to pick someone, but I do not know how anyone can really bet against Anderson Silva.  If he wins he is unstoppable.