For any MMA promotion, it is common to release fighters — ones whom are a losing investment to make room to sign on other fighters, ones whom they hope will be an asset. Unfortunately for UFC, it seems they did too many signings and not enough releasing over the past couple of years, especially with the addition of a women’s strawweight division. As a result, UFC is in the midst of a major overhaul of its roster.
The MMA community first noticed this back in June of this year when eight fighters were released, which included Ronda Rousey’s close friend and fellow “Four Horsewomen of the MMA” member, Shayna Baszler. Four months later, 15 fighters were released including Ryan Jimmo, Hatsu Hioki, and Brian Ebersole. Let’s not forget that UFC also terminated those who opposed their deal with Reebok, notably Jacob “Stitch” Duran.
Now, there are reports UFC is letting go of more MMA fighters just before the new year, and among the list of released includes Fabio Maldonado and Kevin Souza. They are part of eight who find themselves no longer signed to the biggest MMA promotion in the world.
The roster cuts were made known through an unnamed source to MMA Fighting. Chico Camus, Ericka Almeida, Bubba Bush, Mickael Lebout, Vernon Ramos, and Jumabieke Tuerxun join Fabio Maldonado and Kevin Souza in having their contracts released.
Fabio Maldonado being let go does have some peculiarities, because he is a fan-favorite in the light heavyweight division. However, losing three of his last four fights, two of them being back-to-back losses to Quinton Jackson and Corey Anderson, may have been the catalyst on why he was let go. Maldonado at least had at least one good run in UFC back in 2013 to 2014, with four victories and one loss. In Maldonado’s defense, his one loss was against Stipe Miocic in a fight that was made short-notice. This gave Maldonado little time to prepare.
Edimilson Souza (professionally known as Kevin Souza) is the biggest surprise on the list of MMA fighters released. For starters, Souza just recently lost to Chas Skelley back in November, but that was after Souza won ten fights in a row since October of 2011. Three of those fights in his winning streak were in the UFC against Felipe Arantes (his debut fight in the promotion which is attached above), Mark Eddiva, and Katsunori Kikuno. Given Souza’s record, it makes no sense why he was let go in the first place. Albeit any reasons that are unknown to the public, the only possible reason why Souza was released is his lack of use in UFC. Souza’s first UFC fight was in September of 2013. He followed up with another fight in May of 2014, than another in March of 2015. Summarized, there are long stretches of time between Souza’s fights. That may be the only reason one can deduct on why he was let go (outside of anything kept private between UFC and Souza).
This latest release is just part of the massive overhaul UFC has planned for its roster. According to Bloody Elbow, plans surfaced of UFC cutting a total of 50 fighters this year through a Swedish MMA site, MMAnytt.
“According to sources MMAnytt close to the UFC, the organization will do away with 50 fighters over the weekend. The organization currently has around 560 fighters under contract.”
The releases recently announced just before the new year are most likely the last for 2015. However, if all the cuts related to the surfaced plan to cut a total of 50 fighters have already happened. Therefore, the MMA community may see UFC release more of their fighters starting in January, 2016.
[Image via UFC Promotions]