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Damned If You Don’t: Rich Attonito Fired by UFC for Backing Out of Gunnar Nelson Fight


(He beat the crap out of Jamie Yager, so he’ll always be a legend in our book. Photo props: Justin M. Bowen/ Las Vegas Sun)

When UFC matchmaker Joe Silva calls you to fight on short notice as an injury replacement, sometimes it’s better to not even answer the phone. That’s the lesson we’ve learned from a contradictory pair of recent firings that seem to define the phrase “damned if you do, damned if you don’t.”

As confirmed by MMAFighting.com, welterweight contender (and former CagePotato guest-blogger) Rich Attonito has been released by the UFC. Attonito had an official record of 3-2 within the Octagon, and last competed at UFC 140 in December 2011, where he was TKO’d by Jake Hecht. Here’s the sequence of events that led to Rich’s firing, from the MMAFighting report:

When [Pascal] Krauss pulled out of UFC on FUEL TV 5, [Joe] Silva offered Rich Attonito the fight against [Gunnar] Nelson via Attonito’s manager Dan Lambert. Lambert spoke to the American Top Team fighter, who agreed to take the welterweight bout. The next day, Lambert called Silva to tell him Attonito said he would not be able to make the 170-pound weight limit on short notice. Silva then offered him the opportunity to take the fight at a 175-pound catch weight, which both Attonito and Nelson, through his manager and father Haraldur Nelson, agreed to. The next day, Lambert called Silva back again to inform him that Attonito would not be able to make the 175-pound catch weight either. As a result, Silva decided to release Attonito from his contract.

Here’s the deal: When the UFC offers you an opportunity to come in as a replacement fighter, you generally don’t get a day or two to think about it. Attonito’s crime was speaking too soon — agreeing to a fight before he realized that making weight would be impossible. But at the time the fight was offered to him, saying “no” to Joe Silva probably seemed like the bigger sin.

Anyway, Attonito changed his mind and got fired for it. And you probably remember what happened next…

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