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5 Top Veterans at Risk of Being Released from the UFC

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At the end of 2020, Dana White announced the UFC was planning on cutting a lot of fighters, which got fans speculating who could be on the chopping block. Since then, several veterans from our list, including Tyron Woodley, Mike Perry, and Junior Dos Santos, have parted ways with the promotion. However, other fighters, most notably Jose Aldo, have turned their careers around and are on the rise again. Now, well into 2022, here are five veterans in the UFC who could be on the chopping block in the near future.  

UFC Could Release These 5 Familiar Faces

5. Joanne “JoJo” Wood

Record: 15-8-0 Last 5: 1-4-0

A woman who has almost been around since the start of women’s UFC divisions, Joanne Wood has never seen a fight she wants to turn down. Wood has been one win from getting a title shot in the past two calendar years but dropped fights to Jennifer Maia and Lauren Murphy. Now 1-4 in her last five and having lost three straight, Wood’s role has changed to being a gatekeeper in her division. Down to 10 in the women’s flyweight rankings, it’s possible Wood could get her walking papers as soon as she’s clearly out of the title picture.  

4. Raphael Assuncao

Record: 27-9 Last 5: 1-4

One of the most historically overlooked fighters in the Bantamweight division, Raphael Assuncao was at one point one win away from a title shot when he lost to TJ Dillashaw in 2016. Assuncao rebounded from that loss, racking up four straight wins, only to have his momentum thwarted by a prime Marlon Moraes, who has now retired from the UFC. It’s hard to believe that Assuncao picked up a win over Rob Font not even four years ago. However, now on a four-fight losing streak and at 39 years old, Assuncao’s time in the promotion is likely coming to a close.  

3. Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone

Record: 36-16 Last 5: 0-4, 1 NC

Even though he is beloved by the fans, Donald Cerrone, unfortunately, just isn’t the fighter that he used to be. Known for never turning down a fight, Cerrone has not won a fight in his last six bouts. Dana White agreed to let him drop to 155 after last fight in May of 2021 but speculated his next fight would likely be his last fight. Cerrone is set to face a fellow veteran in Joe Lauzon at UFC 274, and win or lose, it could be Cowboy’s last fight in the UFC.  

2. Thiago “Marreta” Santos

Record: 22-10 Last 5: 1-4

Once one of the most explosive strikers on the entire roster, Thiago Santos just hasn’t been the same since his title loss to Jon Jones in 2019. During that fight with Jones, Santos tore both of his ACLs and missed over a year of action as he recovered. Each of Santos’ last three contests has been incredibly dull, with Santos clearly not as mobile and hesitant to let his kicks go. While his win over Johnny Walker in October proved he can still compete, it’s clear that he’s past his prime and out of the title picture. He might get one more fight, but it would be unlikely for him to keep his job with another loss.  

1. Tony “El Cucuy” Ferguson

Record: 26-6 Last 5: 2-3

This one is harrowing to write, especially for a fan of the sport that saw his meteoric rise. One of the greatest lightweights of all time, it wasn’t long ago that Tony Ferguson was on a 12-fight winning streak and set to compete with Khabib Nurmagomedov for the title. However, that fight was never meant to be after five cancellations, and since then, Ferguson has gotten destroyed in each of his last three fights by Justin Gaethje, Charles Oliveira, and Beneil Dariush. He’s set to return against Michael Chandler at UFC 274, and if he loses that fight, it will likely be his last with the promotion.  

Unfortunately for these fighters, their time with the leader of MMA is likely coming to an end. Where will they go next? Only time will tell.

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