As somebody who has said in the past that I wanted the UFC to trim its roster, I wasn’t necessarily disappointed to see that it had cut 16 fighters. I don’t like to see fighters get cut, but let’s be honest, the UFC can only put on so many fights, and there are plenty of fighters I think should be more active.
Then I saw the list of names that got cut, per MMA Fighting, and my blood started to boil a little bit. Let’s go through the list…
Wagner Prado – I still think it’s ridiculous that Prado was given Phil Davis for a UFC debut, but he did follow that loss with a submission loss to Ildemar Alcantara, who will next be fighting at welterweight. I’m OK with this one.
Ulysses Gomez – Got mauled by John Moraga, and followed that up with an uninspiring loss to a fringe UFC fighter in Phil Harris. No problems here.
Josh Grispi – I think Grispi should seriously consider another profession, and I don’t say that lightly. I still have no idea what happened to him, but he clearly shouldn’t be in the UFC anymore.
Motonobu Tezuka – A split decision loss to Alex Caceres that shouldn’t have been split, and a loss to Vaughan Lee. No reason to keep Tezuka around.
C.J. Keith – Had tremendous difficulty making weight and was stopped in both his UFC fights. Keith is more talented than he showed, but didn’t do anything to show he belongs in the world’s biggest MMA promotion.
Simeon Thoresen – Was 1-2 in the UFC, but his lone victory was against Besam Yousef. Being out-struck by David Mitchell is not a good look.
Mike Stumpf – Dominated on the ground by T.J. Waldburger, then picked apart standing by Pascal Krauss. There just isn’t UFC level talent here.
GRAY AREA CUTS
In other words, cuts that I think there’s an argument for, but an argument against as well.
Mike Russow – Hasn’t really looked good in his wins, let alone his losses. At the same time, he’s still 4-2 in the UFC and the heavyweight division needs all the depth it can get.
Vladimir Matyushenko – A fighter who did one of two things in his latest UFC stint: either he crushed a low-level light-heavyweight, or he got obliterated by a high-level light-heavyweight. Matyushenko had no upside at all, but a guy who was 4-3 with losses to Jon Jones, Alexander Gustafsson, and Ryan Bader isn’t exactly a guy at the top of my “must cut” list.
Che Mills – Went from a “killer” at 170 pounds to out of the UFC. Mills was basically fodder for Rory MacDonald, but 2-1 otherwise, and still had some potential for good fights in the UFC despite his uninspiring loss to Matt Riddle.
Jay Hieron – His overall UFC record is fairly dismal, but his recent stint featured losses to a top 10 welterweight in Jake Ellenberger and a possible future top 10 welterweight in Tyron Woodley. I get why Hieron was cut, but I wanted to see him get one more chance.
Terry Etim – I really didn’t expect that Etim would lose to Renee Forte. I didn’t get to see the fight, but apparently Etim looked a lot like a fighter who never fully recovered from the Edson Barboza knockout. If I saw the fight, and Etim really did look that bad, then I could see myself putting him in the “justified cuts” category.
Jorge Santiago – He’s similar to Hieron in that his overall UFC record isn’t pretty. But like Hieron, Santiago’s most recent loss was to a very tough opponent in Gunnar Nelson, and Santiago was very competitive in that fight. If Santiago got another chance against the right kind of opponent, I think he could be quite successful.
These are cuts I just don’t agree with.
Paul Sass – And yes, I’m very biased here, and I did get a chance to watch Sass lose to Danny Castillo. But Sass’s fights are always exciting (to me at least), and he’s 3-2 in the UFC… why would the UFC cut him? I get that Sass probably will never be a real title contender or anything, but I for one enjoy watching a fighter who normally wouldn’t be able to compete use an unorthodox approach to be competitive at a high level.
Jacob Volkmann – I understand that the UFC is an entertainment business, but it’s also a sport… although the sport side of it is slowly eroding it seems. Volkmann was 6-2 since dropping to lightweight, and while his loss to Bobby Green was very surprising, Volkmann clearly has the talent to compete in the UFC. I get why he was cut, but I really don’t like it.
Jon Fitch – The “main event” of the cuts. This is absurd. Fitch is 14-3-1 in the UFC, and while I might be a lone wolf on this, I never thought Fitch was as boring as a lot of fans seem to think. Whenever Fitch fights, he’s active and attacking. Yes, he just lost to Demian Maia, but Maia is a top five welterweight in the world. And yes, Fitch is on the career decline now, but a fighter who was able to win UFC fights as consistently as Fitch deserves a lot more respect than he just got.
I’m all for the UFC looking to entertain the fans, but I also think mixed martial arts is a sport, and that as a sport, it should reward fighters who usually get their hand raised when they fight. By releasing fighters like Jon Fitch and Jacob Volkmann, the UFC is sending the message that it’s more important to be entertaining than it is to win fights. That kind of message might be what’s needed in the UFC, but I think there are better ways to send that message than to give pink slips to fighters who perhaps aren’t the most entertaining in the organization.