The UFC released a number of fighters last week, including Mike Ricci, Yuri Villefort, Keith Wisniewski, Joao Zeferino, and Yushin Okami.
Okami, 32 and ranked #6 in the world by the UFC, was released following a KO loss to Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza in his last fight; he won the three previous matches, to Buddy Roberts, Alan Belcher, and Hector Lombard. Lombard remains with the UFC, despite losing two of his three fights in the UFC, and a far, far higher price tag.
UFC president Dana White explained Okami's release to Yahoo Sports' Kevin Iole, noting that the UFC roster is fixed at present, and that there is a constant and unrelenting search for and hard nurturing of contenders to the title. If someone is added to the roster who might conceivably someday win the title, then someone else has to go.
"He was never able to get over the hump and win one of those [significant] fights," explained White. "We have a lot of guys coming in and I've been saying this all year: We have a full roster and there are guys who deserve opportunities. When you bring guys in, someone has to go. That's why these fights are so meaningful."
In a compelling piece for MMAJunkie, Ben Fowlkes make the case for the cut.
The UFC is looking for the best fighters in the world. It's also looking to make money, which is why you can survive slightly longer if your unsuccessful attempts at climbing to the top of the heap are entertaining enough to sell tickets and pay-per-views. But even those fighters get cut eventually. They have to, because somewhere out there is a fighter who might become the best, who hasn't yet bumped up against the jagged ceiling of his own limitations, and he's coming for somebody's spot. If you don't want it to be yours, you have to make your case over and over and over again.
It's the kind of employment environment that most of us couldn't stand. Maybe that's also why it's so compelling to us. It's the rare arena where really, really good isn't good enough, and the years you've already put in don't amount to seniority, but rather strengthen the case against you. In the end, the judgment it leads to is brutal and harsh and inevitable.
But that's fighting for you. And, honestly, what did you expect?
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What do you think UG? Were you a big Yushin Okami fan before the cut?