Recently Dana White’s statement about 60 possible fighters being cut by the end of 2020. We saw Yoel Romero cut, and picked up quickly by Bellator MMA. This will consist of all the fighters on the roster, but this article will focus on the UFC featherweight division. 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 UFC featherweight division that would be very controversial given the boot.
Probable UFC Featherweight Division Cuts
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 the UFC featherweight division. Another negative is the 3 – 5 record he has since 2017. Now the close split decision loss on his featherweight debut is bad luck. Next, add his decision win over the lower-ranked Makwan Amirkhani. Last point, how many wins would it take to see a title shot? Does UFC want to spend the money on 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 Jeremy Stephens has only been knocked out twice in the losses. Also 3 knockouts 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 gatekeeper he was at one time. Finally, most MMA fans don’t think he can beat any of the top ten in the UFC Featherweight 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 Featherweight division 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 than entertaining fights. If he doesn’t get a fight soon and start catching the eye of some modern MMA fans he will be looking at 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 losses 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 losses right now, so this could very well be his last under the UFC Featherweight division banner.
Andre “Touchy” Fili
Andre Fili has been in the UFC Featherweight division for quite a while with a 9-7 record. He has 6 decisions, 2 of 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 gatekeeper position. If Andre 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, especially in the UFC Featherweight division who is getting more stacked. 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 Featherweight division will start releasing fighters that are difficult to let go, like Yoel. This can allow for more opportunities. Now that the sport is growing in popularity.
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