If you’re a UFC fighter lucky enough to be making six figures but unlucky enough to be on a losing skid, your job may be in jeopardy.
That seems to be the message being sent by UFC president Dana White following UFC Vegas 16. When asked why terrifying middleweight stand-out and regular title fight participant Yoel Romero was cut by the company, White said it was just the beginning of a pretty deep cut into the roster that could see upwards of 60 fighters released.
“We’re gonna go through some serious cuts here at the end of the year,” White revealed. “Probably gonna have 60 cuts coming up before the first of the year. And Yoel has lost four of his last five, he’s 44 years old. Our roster is very inflated right now. So we’re gonna have some big cuts coming before the end of the year.”
“You’re gonna see a lot of names going here in the next several weeks.”
“Nothing like that,” White said when asked if there was some sort of USADA violation or something else regarding Romero that played a part in the decision. “We’re just literally starting to go through the list and, you know, he’s 44, has lost four of his last five, and these are the tough decisions you’ve got to make.”
It’s worth noting that three of those losses were middleweight title fights, two of which were controversial decisions Romero might have won on any given night depending on the whims of commission judges. But hey, if the UFC doesn’t value Yoel any more it’s nice that they’ve finally released him ... seven months after his last fight.
White admitted earlier this year that his Contender Series events were going to lead to roster cuts elsewhere. Season four of the show saw 37 fighters signed between August and November of 2020. It probably doesn’t hurt that all these hot new prospects come in on standard DWCS contracts, which are pretty low even if you bump them up with consecutive wins. Sean O’Malley’s contract saw him go $10k/$10k, $22k/$22k, $35k/$35k, and $40k/$40k over his first four wins in the UFC.
“Yeah, no. It’s all a numbers game,” White said in August. “I mean, we have to give everybody three fights a year. So, you can only have so many people under contract. Yeah.”
A 60 fighter cull isn’t anything new to the UFC. Batches of cuts used to come much more regularly back when the promotion was holding 24 events a year in 2010 versus the 40 they’ve held in 2020. We here at MMA Mania remember a time where two losses in a row was a near-guarantee you were packing your bags and leaving the organization. Now you’ve got tons of fighters with records checkered like CroCop shorts sticking around for years.
So perhaps this is long overdue, but it certainly doesn’t look great when the organization lets go of some of the best fighters in the world like Yoel Romero and Jussier Formiga while keeping around much more questionable talent. It makes you think this has more to do with the UFC’s bottom line than it does a proper assessment of talent and performance.