The Zuffa contract cemetery has been filling up lately, folks… and that’s not even counting the Dutch and the Russians, who are presumably segregated into a separate section. Let’s run down the recent list o’ death after the jump:
Following his 2nd round TKO loss to Alexander Gustafsson last weekend, Matt “The Hammer” Hamill has announced he’s pulling the pin on his MMA career. It was his second loss in a row but only his fourth ever, and I expected that the UFC would’ve given him another shot, despite the fact that this was a pretty clear sign of his limited potential. Losing to the likes of Rampage and Rich Franklin is no great shame, but being finished by a relative no-name has to hurt… as does the plague of injuries that Matt says he’s fought through for his entire UFC career. At least there’s always the motivational speaking circuit, I hear that pays well. Meanwhile, if fans didn’t know who Gustafsson was before, they sure should now… the Swede has finished all 4 of his UFC wins, with his lone loss coming from undefeated rising-star Phil Davis.
We all knew this one was coming… Joe “Daddy” Stevenson was given plenty of chances, but was finally cut after losing by decision to Javier Vasquez at “UFC Live 4: Kongo vs Barry”. Daddy definitely had his high points in the UFC, including winning TUF 2 and fighting BJ Penn for the vacant lightweight belt, but for the last couple years it’s been mostly lows. He’s won only 3 of his 9 fights since BJ, and has now lost four in a row, dropping his UFC record to 8-8. He now has the distinction of being the 4th TUF winner to be released.
Speaking of TUF folks, TUF 9 finalist Andre Winner was predictably fired following his 3rd straight loss to Anthony Njokuani at UFC 132, which makes him the 9th TUF runner-up to be released. Damn, no job security for the runner-ups, eh?
Also on UFC Live 4’s hit list are Curt Warburton and John “Doomsday” Howard. Howard started his UFC career off well with 4 straight wins, but his UD loss to Matt Brown made it 3 in a row, which is usually enough to get you cut (unless you’re Matt Brown). Warburton’s 1st-round sub to J-Lau was only his first L in a row, but it brought his UFC record to 1-2, and apparently Zuffa had seen enough.
Not yet announced, but likely on the way:
Yoshihiro Akiyama’s face-down KO at the fists of Vitor Belfort at UFC 133 was his 3rd loss in a row, and while he’s won “FOTN” honors three times, it’s hard not to see this as the final stamp on a 1-3 UFC career that can only be described as disappointing. Especially considering they’re paying him $45K just to show, pretty much everyone fully expects Sexyama to be sent packing soon.
There’s just no sugar-coating it: Scott Smith took an absolute shit-kicking from Tarec Saffiedine at “Strikeforce: Fedor vs Hendo”, at times doing literally nothing for an alarmingly long time while Tarec used him as a punching bag. But at least he made it to the scorecards, unlike when Paul Daley temporarily killed him in his last fight. That makes 3 bad losses in a row, and 4 out of his 7 Strikeforce fights. Frankly, I’d be amazed if Smith wasn’t fired after this… and really, he should consider retiring. He’s fucking done on the big stage, and it’s either move on to something else, or languish in the bushleagues with Jens Pulver until you can’t even beat cans anymore.
As for Robbie Lawler… honestly, I dunno. The guy’s lost 2 fights in a row and 4 of his last 6, with his only Strikeforce wins being over Matt “Is He Dead?” Lindland and a lucky comeback KO of Melvin Manhoef. By all rights, he should be cut… but even under the new management, I’m not sure if Strikeforce will be quite willing to part with a “name” guy considering how thin their roster is.
Down but not out?
Wanderlei Silva’s faceplant at UFC 132 makes him 2-4 in his current UFC stint and 4-6 in his last 10 fights overall, leaving many people (including Dana White) to openly question if he should hang up his murdering-axe for good. Wandy sounds like he wants to keep going, and though neither he nor Dana have yet said anything official either way, I figure he’ll get at least one final chance.
Jorge Rivera has now dropped 2 in a row, and this one to a TUF reject to boot. While I’m not sure that he’ll be fired because he’s a WARRIOR™ and Dana digs that, he was already hinting at retiring… or at least that he’d be at peace with being cut. Other than attempting to set up the Sakara fight again, I’m not sure what else they’d do with him though.
George Sotiropoulos‘s flash KO loss to Rafael dos Anjos at UFC 132 was his 2nd in a row, but the dude was on a tear before that, so he’ll probably get another shot.
Already riding a 3-fight fail skid, former title challenger Dan Hardy has to be in a do-or-die position when he faces Chris Lytle in the main event at UFC Live 5 this Sunday. I can’t imagine even someone who BRINGS IT™ like Hardy would be allowed four L’s in a row.
Also on the cast of UFC Live 5, Jared Hamman, Alex “Bruce Leroy” Caceres, TJ O’Brien, Edwin Figueroa, Jason Reinhardt, and maybe even Charles Oliveira, CB Dollaway, and Cole Miller would each be on thin ice if they drop a second fight in a row. The latter two would probably be granted a temporary reprieve, but who knows.
Coming up at UFC 134, Big Nog will likely have a nice chat about retirement with Dana if he doesn’t beat Brendan Schaub. Also possibly staring down the barrel of a pink slip are both Thiago Tavares and his opponent Spencer Fisher, Paulo Thiago and David Mitchell, Yves Jabouin and Ian Loveland, plus Raphael Assuncao and maybe even Dan Miller. That’s right, there’s potentially three win-or-GTFO deathmatches on this card… good times!
So did I miss anybody?