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The Great Roster Purge of 2010/11

(The saddest thing about Gerald Harris getting fired will be the downgrade from UFC-level pussy)

Everyone knew that the WEC folding into the UFC meant there were some serious cuts coming, but the reality of that situation is beginning to hit home as guys like Gerald Harris start getting fired after one loss. What’s the story behind that? Was it to avoid having to renegotiate a contract, like CagePotato guesses? Or Watch Kalib Run’s suspicion that Harris was on the wrong end of Zuffa brass’ vindictive whims?

Those are interesting possibilities, and having a personal relationship with D.W. certainly doesn’t hurt when it comes to job security. But let’s lay out the math here so everyone is clear on what ‘serious cuts coming’ really really means. From MMA Fighting:

The UFC has examined the cold, hard numbers of the merger and come to the conclusion that their roster will still house roughly 200 fighters under contract at any given time. In the past, that meant about 40 fighters for each of five divisions. Now, it’s roughly 28 men for each of seven divisions.

The reason the roster is not expanding is because Zuffa staged 32 events last year (24 UFC, 8 WEC), but with the loss of the WEC brand, the company is likely to stage only 26 events in 2011. White feels that the promotion has essentially maxed out the number of annual pay-per-views at about 15 or 16 per year, so that would leave 10-11 free events to be broadcast between cable partners Spike and Versus.

That number could increase if a new television deal is struck, but if it doesn’t, that’s a net result of around 60 fewer matches over the course of 2011. So growing the roster would actually result in a glut of more fighters with fewer shows on which to put them.

The most obvious place for contraction is among the lightweights, with overarching divisions in the UFC and WEC that will probably result in matchups where fighters are essentially fighting for their jobs; winner stays, loser gets a pink slip.

Currently, there are roughly 225 guys in the UFC and 65 in the WEC. That’s 290 fighters for the 286 matches Zuffa currently has planned for 2011, which is pretty hairy when you consider the UFC’s goal is three fights per year per fighter (and their contractual obligation isn’t much lower).

All this adds up to a serious roster massacre occurring over the next six months. I doubt the UFC will even all divisions down to 28 per weight class like MMA Fighting said, but just to put things in some perspective, there are currently 30 heavyweights, 35 light heavyweights, 45 middleweights, 55 welterweights, and 70 lightweights once you include the WEC guys. Featherweight has 22 and bantamweight 21. So basically, it’s a really bad time to weigh between 155 and 185 pounds.

Still, it’s not all bad news. Getting fired from the UFC isn’t the final bell on a fighter’s career, and the organization has shown that they’re more than happy to sign a fighter back if they manage to do anything semi-worthwhile in the minors (see: why David L’Oiseau keeps coming back). Anyone worth their salt will end up back where they belong … or they’ll go to Strikeforce or Bellator. It might not be the most ideal way to do things, but numbers don’t lie: the UFC has a shitload of fighters to fire.

  • Reverend Clint

    they should hold more fights per event like add an extra half hour to ppvs or add extra free spike tv fights to the prelims. instead of like 10-12 fights make it a standard 15. Allows for a broader mix of fights and allows for more fighters to move around in terms of rankings. quit playing musical chairs with shitty fighters like the crow or the Armenian nutjob. I bet there are 10 other guys who are way better than those two its just they have history or are butt buddies with current champs.

    I do like the idea of more free events. put prospects on those cards with a few crafty vets who bring it. more exposure for the new guys plus some action packed fights for the MMA casual fans. Your average fan has no interest in watch fitch hump his way to a decision on a free event. I like the idea of letting the WEC people run the free fights since they know how to mkae the best cards with littlest amount of money.

    Broadcast online the prelims that are not shown on spike live for like a set fee. I’d pay like $25, not $25 per ppv though maybe $5 a month or like $25 for 6 months, to watch the prelim fights online or on my xbox. I think online IS where the UFC is heading.

    Quit doing TUF with 12 of the 16 or so fighters being half ass rejects. Go back to actually trying to find real talent. if you want to watch drunk idiots go watch the real world or COPS. Concentrate on the weight classes that actually can produce good fighters and never do a HW TUF again.

  • Tanhauser

    Maybe Baroni will get cut.

  • fightlinker

    The events are already pretty packed, the average ppv runs from 7pm to 12:30am so that’s 5.5 hours already for 10-11 fights.

    Agreed re: TUF needing more serious prospects. TUF rejects also need to be let go faster … so much of the go-nowhere guys are from TUF it’s not funny.

    I know i’m obsessed with the idea of the UFC making a netflix-like app for gaming systems and media boxes, but it would allow the UFC to add more events and push people to buy the UFC app that lets them watch these ‘internet only’ events.

  • Reverend Clint

    but ryan most ppvs really only show the main card of 5 fights plus maybe 1 or 2 short prelims. i was saying the cards should be bigger not nessicarily make the ppv broadcast longer. i’m sure people would appreciate more variety and value for money with a couple extra fights. Plus a lot of people show up during the last couple Prelims anyways.

    the internet only part makes a load of sense to me. maybe have it tie in with a new UFC game like get the game and get a month of free xbox or ps3 content. they have UFC fights on xboxlive already.

  • SprechenSieDouche

    @Rev Clint ~ TUF cannot get more skilled fighters. If anything, they need fighters with less skills. See, you can’t take a guy who has his own successful game (eg Cody McKenzie) and have a coach spend a few weeks trying to change that completely right before a career defining fight (again, see Cody McKenzie).

    The fighters in the early seasons benefitted from a few weeks with a pro because they didn’t have quality training at home and successful records. That’s not the case any longer. If Cody spent maybe a year training with GSP, he might have been able to combine his skill set with GSP’s and be successful. Anyway…. babble babble babble…. boring myself.

  • Reverend Clint

    make it a longer process and take out the stupid stay at the house part. make it like 3 months of training.

  • P W

    Is it really that difficult to get sponsors to buy ad time so we can get more free fights? Or what’s the hold up?

  • glassjawsh

    ^ greed/hubris

  • DSPTomK

    It sucks for the fighters looking to get paid, but as a selfish fan, having the UFC “trim the fat” off their roster will mean that we’ll always see the best against the best and there would be no time wasted on mediocre fighters.

  • Redping

    people i’d fire just ’cause i felt like it, if i had to pick some:

    Gerald Harris (just kidding i’d let him lose to Jake Ellenberger first to sacrifice his kotn and name)
    Mike Guymon (i know you tried to kill yourself, but go to strikeforce this time)
    Rob Kimmons
    Jon Madsen (THATS RIGHT take that 3 fight win streak and FUCK OFF)
    John Salter
    Joe Stevenson (he hasn’t fought this year pretty much, just make him fight bob sapp in a super fight in japan and forget to bring him back)
    Michael Bisping (just pretend rivera is english after he whoops him by giving him subtitles and photoshopping cups of tea into his interviews)
    SAM STOUT (not because i dislike him, because I feel like he needs to get fired to really start being anything other than a rock-em-sock-em-robots fighter and with WEC coming his role in the company is null and void, same with Jeremy Stephens)
    make pat barry move down or FIRE HIM

    also I’d fire exactly half of the lightweights by drawing numbers out of hats, and replace them solely with Genki Sudo and make him fight three times an event

    vote for me, ufc president 2011

  • SST

    Poor Harris. He’s gonna have to go back to the black chics.

  • Reverend Clint

    mac danzig
    tyson griffin, if he loses
    Melvin Guillard
    Aaron Riley
    jeremy Stephens, if he loses his next fight
    Joe Daddy
    paul taylor

    Thiago Alves because he is a piece of shit
    Renzo Gracie because he is busted
    Mike Guymon if he loses
    Matt hughes, see Gracie
    Nick Osipczac because he sucks
    Forrest Petz ^^

    Phil Balogna
    Jason MacDonald, 3 fight losing streak
    Dan Miller if he loses to joe Doerkson
    Joe Doerkson if he loses to Dan miller

    Light Heavy Weight:
    Cyrille Diabate, A) he is French B) he has nothing but strikes
    Tito ortiz he is on a 5 fight losing streak and he is a flamer
    Brandon Vera no matter if he wins or not

    Heavy weight:
    pat berry, lost to Cro Cop
    Cro Cop is busted
    Antoni Hardonk lost to berry and Kongo, hasnt fought since 2009
    Big Nog falling apart

    thats 24 guys who should be cut soon

  • Simco

    “Is it really that difficult to get sponsors to buy ad time so we can get more free fights? Or what’s the hold up?”

    There are already ads on ppvs and tv cards can be dvrd and started literally 90 minutes after the beginning of the program and you’ll still catch the main event live.
    How much more advertising do you want?

  • subo

    Madsen is on a 4-0 streak and just nuked Yvel in the first.