Recently Dana White made the statement about 60 possible fighters would be cut by the end of 2020. Who knows if they will cut everyone by the end of the year. Some MMA fans believe the cuts will come in the first couple of months of 2021. We had Yoel Romero cut, and picked up quickly by Bellator MMA. This has us all thinking about who will be cut next? Also, what will the UFC top guys be looking for when making these cuts. Now of course anyone with losing streaks will have a higher chance. However what else???? Age has to be a factor, or maybe even style. Let’s take a look at 5 fighters in the men’s featherweight division that would be very controversial given the boot.
Edson “Junior” Barboza
Starting off with a bang we have the famous spinning wheel kick god Edson Barboza. Most will immediately think that’s not possible. Hold on, did you know he has one fight left on his contract? There’s nothing on the schedule for him, and his last fight on October 10, 2020. There were lots of opportunities for him to get a fight with all the late January cards, like fight island. His age, of 34, is also starting to creep up for a guy making the move to featherweight. Another negative is the 3 – 5 record he has since 2017. Now the close split decision lose on his featherweight debut is bad luck. Next add his decision win over lower ranked Makwan Amirkhani. Last point, how many wins would it take to see a title shot? Does UFC want to spend the money for the entertainment that Barboza brings when he hasn’t finished a fight since 2018?
Jeremy “LIL Heathen” Stephens
This one is really no surprise in the controversial category. He is 6-9 with a no contest since 2015. Most hardcore MMA fans love the Lil Heathen, but if UFC wants to push the, “best in the world” narrative, they need to cut guys like this. Positively Stephens has only been knocked out twice in the losses. Also 3 knock outs in the 6 wins. However there is no real purpose for him in this division anymore. The only real reason for UFC to keep him is to entertain with new up and comers. He is not the gate keeper he was at one time. Finally most MMA fans don’t think he can beat any of the top ten in this division.
Ryan “The Wizard” Hall
How this surprised you all. The reason for the pick is mainly he has only fought 3 times since 2016. Yeah he won the ultimate fighter 22 over the online GOAT, but that was almost 5 years ago. The Wizard also has not the most entertaining fighting style toward good stand-up guys. Another point is scheduling fights has been a problem. Ryan had a fight scheduled for August 29, 2020 and had to back out because of injury. UFC does not really lose a lot if Ryan Hall gets dropped and picked up by any contender. At the age of 35 injuries start to come more then entertaining fights. If he doesn’t get a fight soon and start catching the eye of some modern MMA fans he will be looking other places.
Nik “The Carnie” Lentz
We all love Nik and who can forget the exposer of Will Brooks with the submission of the night. Nonetheless the carnie’s record is just 5-5 over the past 5 years. Also he’s been on the preliminary card for most of his UFC career. Only twice was Nik on the main card, and both are loses to Charles Oliveira. Age is also against him at 36. The fighter value drops when UFC promoters can only put him on middle cards. Nik Lentz will be fighting Mike Grundy on January 16 on fight island. Lentz is battling 2 straight loses right now, so this could very well be his last under a UFC banner.
Andre “Touchy” Fili
Fili has been in the UFC for quite a while with a 9-7 record. He has 6 decision, 2 which are splits, and only 3 finishes. Now his fights are not boring at all. Fili had a great fight in 2020 against Sodiq Yusuff. Also a performance for the night at UFC on ESPN+ 13. This really means he is doing his job of entertainment like Dana wants to see. However what is his value for the division? He will need at least 4 straight wins for real title contention. He could end up taking the Cub Swanson gate keeper position. If Andrea Fili moves on from UFC he can get more main card spots with promoters like Bellator or PFL. That UFC veteran time can really help the contract negotiation.
Maybe none are correct, but as the sport of MMA ages the type of fighter UFC is looking for will change too. We all have our favorite fighters that we want to see forever. However we want to see the best versus the best, and that won’t happen with more Diego Sanchez contracts signed. The sport of MMA is still a very young sport with tons of potential. Perhaps the UFC will start releasing fighters that are difficult to let go like Yoel. This can allow more opportunity. Now that the sport is growing in popularity.