Of all the fighters to be kept around by the UFC for longer than they should have, the story of Steve Cantwell‘s inexplicably long run with the promotion is perhaps the most confounding. That is not a knock on Mr. Cantwell, but more of a general observation. After defeating Brian Stann at WEC 35 to win the WEC’s last Light Heavyweight championship (not to mention a bit of redemption), Cantwell kicked off his UFC career in memorable fashion, snapping Razak Al-Hassan‘s arm and then gloating over it like a serial killer at UFC: Fight for the Troops back in December of 2008. Unfortunately for “The Robot,” the win would be both his first and last while under the UFC banner.
Cantwell’s next fight would be an entertaining three round kickboxing match with Luiz Cane, a fellow light heavyweight prospect who has fallen on hard times as of late, at UFC 97. It was shortly thereafter where those following Cantwell (including Joe Rogan) began to notice a change in Cantwell’s character, at least when he stepped into the ring. His next four losses, which came to Brian Stann, Cyrille Diabate, Mike Massenzio, and Riki Fukuda, respectively, were marked by an all but total lack of striking defense on Cantwell’s part, who seemed as if he was literally trying to absorb as much damage as possible en route to defeat. All four of those losses came by way of unanimous decision, and all four would see Cantwell fail to engage with any sense of urgency on the feet while having his face put through a meat grinder in the process. None of his fights were incredibly memorable, and most of them took place on the undercard, yet Cantwell stuck around for as long as he possibly could.
Like we said, we’re not here to kick a man while he’s down, but rather to wish him the best at wherever he may land in the future. We just wish we could have seen a little more of that sociopathic fire in his eyes over the last couple years.
News of Cantwell’s release comes amidst a plethora of UFC firings, the complete list of which is below.
Dongi Yang: 1-3 in his UFC career, “The Ox” is on the heels a unanimous decision loss to Brad Tavares at UFC on FUEL: Zombie vs. Poirier, his second straight UD loss in a row. Following his octagon debut (a split decision loss to Chris Camozzi), Yang picked up his lone win in the octagon by way of third round TKO over fellow UFC washout Rob Kimmons. Prior to his fight with Tavares, Yang was bested by TUF 11 winner Court McGee at UFN 25.
Efrain Escudero: This makes for the TUF 8 winner’s second failed run inside the octagon. Escudero was first released after showing up four pounds heavy for his UFN 22 bout with Charles Oliveira, a match he would subsequently lose by third round submission (rear-naked choke). After going 5-1 in various promotions, including a quick submission (guillotine) over Cesar Avila at Bellator 55, Escudero was called back to the UFC as a late injury replacement for T.J. Grant against Jacob Volkmann at UFC 141. He would be thoroughly outgrappled by Volkmann en route to a tedious UD, and would drop a follow up contest to TUF 6 winner Mac Danzig at UFC 145 last April.
Aaron Rosa – Compiling a 1-2 record in his UFC career, Rosa sandwiched a plodding majority win over Matt Lucas at the inaugural UFC on FOX event between a third round TKO loss in an entertaining slugfest with Joey Beltran at UFC 131 and a devastating first round TKO at the hands of James Te Huna in March.
Also rumored, but not yet confirmed to have been released are:
-Alex Soto (0-2, with losses to Michael McDonald and Francisco Rivera)
-Eric Wisely (0-2, with losses to Charles Oliveira and Jason Young)