UFC chopping block: What the massive cuts by Zuffa mean to the rest of the MMA landscape

With the addition of Women’s MMA, and weight classes south of 135 lbs, the UFC is going to purge some of their less successful fighters. This was bound to happen as there are only a certain number of cards each year the UFC can put on, so the cutting of some dead weight was a necessity. However, some of the fighters that were let loose are not exactly below the UFC curve. Hell, one of them is still a top ten fighter in one of the most talent ridden divisions in mixed martial arts. With that said, some questions need to be asked. Is this situation the best for fans? Will the fact that some of the fighters cut are labeled “boring” effect the fighters still in the UFC in a positive (or negative) way? What does this incredible turnover in fighters mean to the rest of the mma world? Let’s explore them, shall we?

What this means to us, the fans.

We are given a crash course in the UFC‘s fighter policy. Winning streaks mean little for long-term employment, and being exciting is the new holding factor (if it ever really wasn’t). But is that a good thing? Excitement is wonderful, and it puts butts in the seats. There’s no disputing that. What it doesn’t do though is give a prospect a test that he (or she) needs to reach that next level. Rory MacDonald is a great fighter, but he has been on an absolute terror since Carlos Condit took him into deep waters a couple years ago. Carlos wasn’t able to do this because he’s exciting (although he very much is). He was able to withstand the blitzkrieg of takedowns, striking, and ground and pound because he’s a great fighter (and because he’s been fighting for a long time). There’s something to be said when a gritty veteran takes a prospect to school to show them they still have a little ways to go, because if that neophyte gets a win they announce themself as a contender to the world. The UFC has many great fighters, so there will usually be somebody around to test a youngster like Rory. However, Dana citing Fitch’s price tag as one of the reason’s he was released might make that guy making a decent paycheck from years of wear and tear in the UFC a little concerned with taking on a new killer. Especially if he has had a tough run prior to that.

How will fighters react inside the cage?

When a combatant enters the octagon will he be thinking, “should I worry about winning, or just being exciting”? Winning in an entertaining fashion is tough in mma. Especially at the UFC level. Some guys have the skill-set of a grinder, and benefit from imposing their game-plan on opponents. Should these people completely change their style. Should they pull a Jorge Gurgel, and completely go away from what got them to the show in the first place? It just might be going through some of their heads considering Jon Fitch, Mike Russow, and Jacob Volkman were all highly skilled fighters, just not the most exciting.

Is it a good idea to pick up a guy “not good enough” for the UFC?

Lets get one thing straight first and foremost; Zuffa has been doing this for a long time, and it shows. The UFC has been stacking talent over the past year, and one can’t help but wonder if this (and the rumored larger cuts down the line) was somewhat of an endgame to it. Smaller promotions like Bellator and WSOF (World Series of Fighting) could give their up and comers some tough fights with some of the guys let loose. However, what would it mean for their talent pool if a UFC “cast-off” were to come in and run through the fighters. Is it worth the risk to pick up, say, Josh Grispi for Bellator to add some more depth to their featherweight roster considering he’s still young and showed flashes of brilliance earlier in his career? Or is it not even worth it as he could very well get his game back, but still be thought of as lower in class because he was cut from the big leagues? These are questions that will drive promoters crazy for the next month or two, and whenever the UFC drops the news about more guys. Lorenzo, Dana, and the guys played this game perfectly. They have essentially put other promoters in a situation where they’re damned if they do, and vice versa. 

……………………………..

This is a tough situation to analyze. The men released aren’t title contenders at the moment so they are expendable in an ever growing community of fighters employed by the UFC. Plus, they weren’t the most exciting athletes in the world. Though, it is a little disheartening to see Jon Fitch get released for the reasons specified by White. He is 1-2-1 in his last 4 fights, but those were all against top tier guys in fights that were mostly entertaining (outside of the Maia fight). He was clearly making an attempt to become more of an exciting fighter, and while doing so gave a lesson to a possible future star in Erick Silva. As for pay, Jon reportedly made $66k to show and the same for a win. That might sound like a good amount of money, but lets go over Jon’s numbers: 18 fights in the UFC, 14 of those wins, was on the main card in his last 6 pay-per-views, where he was a main-event in 1 of them. At 35, with all the costs of corner men, camp, and everything else that goes along with being a fighter; $128k two or three times a year isn’t that much. Especially when you consider everything the body of a top tier mixed martial artist goes though in their career.

In conclusion, this mass exodus could mean more exciting fights for us fans. That would be absolutely fantastic, and I hope that’s what the UFC is striving for in introducing new weight classes (while also cutting some fighters). However, it has the danger of the opposite happening also in that some guys could really start trying to win at all costs. Deciding their chance of winning is a little bit better than looking exciting to the crowd (while also saving a few brain cells). If that’s the case, then hopefully they hold on to more qualified vets than they let go of. 

Let me know what your thoughts lowkickers.


30 Comments

  1. Avatar of toxic

    toxic

    February 27, 2013 at 3:43 am

    $$$$$$$$ for the right price, Dana would sell his Mom on e-bay $$$$$$$$

  2. Avatar of enjoylife321

    enjoylife321

    February 27, 2013 at 4:46 am

    @Evan………..I am pretty happy with the direction the UFC are taking. Despite the cutbacks, there aren't too many fights that the UFC are not trying to make happen for the fans.

    Dana spoke for example about the secret plans to have fedor fight Brock, so you know he is responsive to what the fans would like to see. In regards to Fitch, people were pissed off to see him go, but there will always be times when decisions do not always seem fair. I just don't see this incident becoming a permanent marker of things to come because historically guys are always getting cut for one reason or another.

    In the early UFC days we were lucky to get a UFC event every month and now we have cards almost every fortnight and newer weight classes. Therefore we are likely to get the fights that we truly want to see.

    Whats interesting is that the UFC want exciting fighters, but they also want marketable fighters like Chael Sonnen that can sell hype. I also believe that some UFC fighters are less likely to get cut based on geographic location….Take Dan hardy for example. the UK needs Michael Bisping, Dan Hardy and pearson as their three marketable guys from the region…

    In conclusion, I would say that fans don't need to worry about any decisions that the UFC make because people power will bring back the fighters and fights that we want everytime…Even if a guy gets cut the shop reopens when they get back an exciting win. And if they don't they probably never belonged there anyway.

  3. Avatar of falcon4917

    falcon4917

    February 27, 2013 at 5:09 am

    Forcing fighters to be exciting takes away from the talent level and lowers every other fighters need for skill and makes it more about chance happenings. They effectively over time are taking away mixed martial arts to make preferred martial arts. If you watch BJJ fights they are not that exciting to most people but they are every bit as entertaining to real martial arts fans. If you are going to call it MMA then all styles should go and as long as they obey the rules there should be no problem. Everything cannot revolve around the bottom line or else we will lose out on the real MMA we all claim to crave. Fighters are going to be afraid to use their lifelong trained discipline to be exciting and then fight with skills they only recently obtained and suffer losses at the hand of Excitement. If the fans love a particular style then let them be popular and if the hate another let them be unpopular but make a sport legit please. You sometimes have to sacrifice a little to be legit.

  4. Avatar of Brian Cox

    Brian Cox

    February 27, 2013 at 5:16 am

    They've grown or attempted to grow The Promotion too far, too fast.

    I don't see how, under one umbrella, that The UFC can accomplish it's primary objective, which seems to be global ********** of all things MMA.

    I believe the brand, should it continue to pursue that path, will either suffer not only large market and regional failures, but also financial failures and a seeding of market share and **********, to Bellator.

    The only way I see around it, would be to adopt the MacDonald's / Coca Coal model, whereby they divide the globe up into associated, yet non-competitive regions, which go head-to-head once a year in a global challenge. Either that or Zuffa need to take the company public and once flush with cash, go the contrarian route and expand their roster, not contract it.

    No matter which way you dice it, it all seems to be good news for the competition. Bellator, come this time next year, could well have it's pick-and-choice of some very fine, entertaining and marquis value fighters, to add to it's (own) roster.

    Either way, it's all good news to promotionally, non-biased, MMA fans.

  5. Avatar of mauromina

    mauromina

    February 27, 2013 at 9:08 am

    great article evan!

  6. Avatar of azzkika

    azzkika

    February 27, 2013 at 10:52 am

    I amazed that the UFC is allowed to be sexist the same as most other sports are. Equality should mean women competing against men. That male fighters are being ditched to accomodate women would be fine so long as the women compete against men.

  7. Avatar of michaelchimique

    michaelchimique

    February 27, 2013 at 12:49 pm

    the thing that i find to be bullshit is dana always harps about guys like fitch and what not. look if you can't defend against someone imposing their will you deserve to lose. dana wants guys to go out there and throw fists until someone falls. when you get guys in there that actually care about life after the ufc and not wanting to take unnecessary punishment they are called boring fighters.

    • Avatar of falcon4917

      falcon4917

      February 27, 2013 at 3:11 pm

      Agree, i am not a big fan of GSP's current fighting style but i do not want him gone by any means, I just want him to lose.lol. But I do respect his abilities and his persona. Others are actually sick of seeing Anderson destroy every comer and are bored of that now. If boxers all of a sudden hit the mat during a match everyone would be talkin about it.

      • Avatar of azzkika

        azzkika

        February 28, 2013 at 12:04 pm

        I'm not bored of seeing Silva destroy opponents. I just want to see him fight higher calibre fighters regularly like a UFC champion should.

        • Avatar of falcon4917

          falcon4917

          March 1, 2013 at 6:25 am

          The only real contestant that GSP has faced is Condit. Guys like Koscheck, Dan Hardy, Nick Diaz, Jake Sheilds, undersized BJ Penn, and Thiago Alves all play into GSP's hands. Real competition for GSP is Condit, Rory, Hendricks, Maia. Anderson has faced equally if not far more deadly foes to his style in Vitor, Dan Henderson, Chael Sonnen, Rich Franklin, Nate Marquardt, Okami and even risked a few 205 matches that one of them gave Jones the fight of his life and would have beaten him if 2 more rounds were available in Stephan Bonnar while Bonnar was on Roids. Anderson is just that much better than other champs. Everyone thought when he fought Vitor he would finally lose they thought that about Dan and Chael 2 as well. Has anyone destroyed Hendo like Anderson did? Has anyone destroyed Bonnar like he did? or even Vitor? He is a few leagues above GSP.

  8. Avatar of UnderdogGreatness

    UnderdogGreatness

    February 27, 2013 at 1:26 pm

    Well, I guess it's almost safe to say that most of the lay and pray artists will be cut one after the other. I hope Clay Guida is paying attention to these moves. Although baby Hitler would never cut Georges, I'm wondering if he'll try to be somewhat exciting now.

  9. Avatar of Banner

    Banner

    February 27, 2013 at 1:42 pm

    If Dana is going to cut grapplers for using their best skills to win fights the he is ignoring the Mixed part of MMA. I would rather see them use a yellow card and cut purses than cut fighters. If he expects all fights to be stand up wars he should change the name of the UFC to K-1.

  10. Avatar of jmexico92

    jmexico92

    February 27, 2013 at 6:03 pm

    testing one two three

  11. Avatar of Def_tac

    Def_tac

    February 27, 2013 at 7:38 pm

    Fighters will find out there are more organizations that treat fighters better. They will be able to fight their fight and not to try and be a fighter they are not. UFC doesn't care about fighters, well only the ones that are bringing in money for them.

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