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Tag: UFC firings

And Now They’re Fired: Pat Healy, TUF 16 Winner Colton Smith, + More


(You just keep your surfer boy hand gestures away from my daughter, pothead! Photo via Getty.)

Ever since being screwed out of his UFC 159 win over Jim Miller (and the $130,000 in bonuses that came with it) due to a positive marijuana test (a.k.a some old bullshit), Pat Healy has seen some rough times. He’s dropped his past four contests to Khabib Nurmagomedov, Bobby Green, Jorge Masvidal, and Gleison Tibau, and while none of those were exactly gimme fights, Healy’s stock in the lightweight division has plummeted nonetheless. Unfortunately, today brings news that “Bam Bam” has been released from the UFC in light of his four-fight skid.

The losing streak seems all the more surprising given Healy’s previous run under the Strikeforce banner, which saw him score five straight wins and earn a title shot against Gil Melendez (that was eventually cancelled when the latter went down with an injury). Tough luck, kid. Here’s hoping Healy can rebound in a big way when the WSOF inevitably scoops him up.

In somewhat less surprising pink slip news, TUF 16 winner Colton Smith has been fired following his lightning quick submission loss to the Wikipedia-less Carlos Diego Ferreira at Fight Night 44 last month. Since defeating Mike Ricci to win the TUF 16 trophy back in December of 2012, Smith has dropped three straight to Robert Whittaker, Michael Chiesa, and Ferreira, all by stoppage. His most recent loss dropped his professional record to 3-4, or 6-4 if you’re the promotion attempting to make their reality show winners look like above-average fighters.

In other firing news…

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And Now He’s Fired: Brandon Vera Axed by UFC (Again), Following 16-Fight Stint With Promotion


(A fan art tribute to a legendary broken nose, by FLYD.)

Though it’s not entirely clear when the axe came down, Fox Sports has confirmed that UFC heavyweight/light-heavyweight Brandon Vera was released from the promotion sometime after his TKO loss to Ben Rothwell last August. It was Vera’s second consecutive defeat, following a previous KO at the hands of Shogun Rua, and it dropped his overall UFC record to 8-7 with one no-contest.

Any post-mortem of Brandon Vera’s career has to focus on what a disappointment it turned out to be. (I’m not trying to be a dick, here; I bet Vera feels the same way.) This is a guy who went from hot-shot contender to hapless journeyman seemingly overnight. The Fox Sports article summarizes it well:

Vera burst upon the scene in Oct. 2005, defeating Fabiano Scherner via TKO in the first of four consecutive victories, a streak that emboldened him to infamously promise that he would hold two UFC title belts at the same time.

He never even fought for the title.

Vera was at one time slated to fight for the UFC heavyweight championship, but a contract dispute put his career on ice in the fall of 2006. By the time it was resolved, nearly a year had gone by, and Vera was never able to recapture his previous magic and reach the high bar he’d set for himself.

By late 2006, Vera had every right to carry a big ego. He had a flawless pro record of 8-0 with all wins by stoppage, and was fresh off a 69-second TKO of former champ Frank Mir, who was struggling to make a comeback at the time (and eventually succeeded). As it turned out, Mir was the last notable opponent that Vera managed to beat. And if you wanted to be brutally honest about it, you could argue that Mir is the only notable opponent that Vera has ever beaten.

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Jason High Released From UFC After Shoving Referee at UFC Fight Night 42


(At least he’s taking it well. / Photo via MMAJunkie)

The axe has finally dropped on Jason High, following his regrettable shoving of referee Kevin Mulhall at last weekend’s UFC Fight Night 42. UFC president Dana White confirmed High’s firing in yesterday’s installment of “The Download,” his weekly address on UFC.com. Though White didn’t watch the “Henderson vs. Khabilov” event live due to illness (more on that later), he acted swiftly as soon as he heard what happened:

“What I did find out is that I guess that Jason High kid got up and pushed a referee – he’s cut,” White said in disgust. “I’m going to cut him. I look at that the way (Paul) Daley put his hands on his opponent after a fight was over. You don’t ever, ever f****** touch a referee, ever. You’re done here. He’s been apologizing on Twitter, but he’s done.”

I feel bad for High. It’s not like he went full-Yvel on Mulhall, and yet he could be shut out of the UFC for life, for a single bad decision. On the other hand, an example needs to be set that you never put your hands on an official, no matter how much you think the stoppage sucked. On the other, other hand:

“Say that Chael Sonnen was the one that lightly pushed the ref and that Jason High failed the drug test. Does Dana instantly fire Chael and then go on TV to publicly defend High?

There’s some truth to that. Maybe High’s biggest crime was simply being expendable.

Dana also confirmed in the “Download” column that the UFC will be paying Ross Pearson his win bonus after Pearson was blatantly robbed against Diego Sanchez, and hoped that the judge who scored the fight 30-27 for Sanchez (Jeff Collins) never judges another professional fight. Also, he was struggling with allergies while relaxing in Maine and buying cars while drunk:

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Chopped: Seven of the Most Surprising UFC Cuts in Recent Memory


(Photo via Getty. Depression via reality.)

The news that Jake Shields had been axed by the UFC on Tuesday was not taken lightly by MMA fans who had referred to the former Strikeforce champion as “Jake Shieldzzzz” for years prior. Days later, we are still trying to make sense of the decision to cut Shields following his first loss in two and a half years, but it was an easy one to make in the eyes of Dana White, who basically told reporters that Shields was released because he didn’t “WAR!!” enough.

As several publications have noted, the firing of Shields has once again highlighted the UFC’s ever-burgeoning “entertainment over sport” mindset when it comes to the legitimacy of their product. It’s the reason guys like Leonard Garcia and Dan Hardy remained with the promotion after two, three, four losses in a row and why Ben Askren was never even given a shot in the first place despite being a top 10 welterweight on damn near everybody’s list. Where just a few years ago, the Tank Abbotts of the world were ridiculed for their one-dimensional, bar brawler-esque approach to MMA, they are now being praised for their ability to entertain and absorb punishment over actually win a fight.

MMA is a sport. The UFC is a spectacle. White’s belief that Gina Carano would deserve an immediate title shot should she sign with the promotion is proof of this. The signing of Brock Lesnar after one fight is proof of this. James Toney is proof of this. We are living in an era of the UFC where the “Just Bleed” guy has risen from psychotic fanboy to upper management, and unfortunately, the firing of Jake Shields was not the first of its kind…

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And Now He’s Fired: Jake Shields Cut by UFC Following Loss to Hector Lombard


(Jake’s drowsy-teenager defense was no match for the hard-hitting Cuban. / Photo via Getty)

Jake Shields’s decision loss to Hector Lombard last month at UFC 171 was his first defeat in two-and-a-half-years — and yet, it was enough of a justification for the UFC to cut him from the promotion. Shields’s manager Lex McMahon confirmed the firing with MMAFighting.com this morning, putting out the following statement:

Jake Shields has been released by the UFC. Jake appreciates the opportunities provided by the UFC and thanks Dana White and Lorenzo Fertita. Jake is an elite athlete who is one of the best welterweight fighters in the world with a long history of winning at a championship level. Jake and our team are already exploring options. I’m confident that Jake will have a new promotion to call home very soon. Jake thanks his fans for their support and looks forward to competing for them again soon.

Not since Jon Fitch have we been this shocked and outraged over the firing of a fighter who we didn’t really care for in the first place. Shields was coming into the Lombard match on a two-fight win streak, with split-decision victories over Demian Maia and Tyron Woodley. And he would have been riding a four-fight win streak if not for the mysterious no-contest he caught after winning a decision against Ed Herman in a middleweight bout at UFC 150, then failing his drug test.

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And Now He’s Fired: Melvin Guillard’s Nine-Year UFC Run Comes to an End Following ‘Fight Night 37′ Loss to Michael Johnson


(Nearly a decade later, Guillard’s shit-talking abilities and penchant for poor hairstyle choices remain among the best in all of MMA. Never change, Melvin. Never change.)

I remember the first time I saw a Melvin Guillard fight. I was watching one of those Ultimate Knockouts compilations — you know, the ones hosted by Kerri Kasem (mmm) that aired on Spike every now and again — and one of the featured fights was Guillard vs. Rick Davis at UFC 60: Hughes vs. Gracie. It was Guillard’s third fight in the UFC following his stint on The Ultimate Fighter 2 in 2005, although at just 21 years of age, Guillard had already built up a wealth of fight experience unmatched by some of the most tested veterans of the game, his older opponent included. It was also the most violent knockout I had ever witnessed at the time, a Laprise vs. Johnson-esque, “Did he died?” moment if there ever was one, made all the more horrifying by my misunderstanding that the “Thong Song” dude was responsible for it.

Some eight years, ten wins, and a UFC record eight TKO’s later, Guillard remains a terror for any poor soul unfortunate enough to draw him for their promotional debut. The problem is, as Guillard’s level of competition gradually rose, his win percentage began to steadily decline. After stringing together a five fight winning streak between 2010-11 (the longest of his UFC career), Guillard would be quickly submitted by Joe Lauzon and Jim Miller, knocked out by Donald Cerrone, and upended by Jamie Varner and Michael Johnson in a pair of lackluster decisions, only scoring wins over Fabricio Camoes and the now-retired Mac Danzig in between.

Dana White was especially critical of Guillard’s most recent performance against Johnson, telling reporters, “There’s no doubt Melvin ran the entire fight and was incredibly passive, the complete opposite of how he used to fight.” And today, MMAFighting passed along word that after nine years with the promotion, Guillard has been released by the UFC. His official octagon record stands at 12-9.

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And Now They’re Fired: Alessio Sakara, George Sotiropoulos, and Rosi Sexton Removed From UFC.com Roster


(To answer the question posed by your body language, hellz yeah bro, that is some sick ink. / Photo via Getty)

BloodyElbow gives us the heads up that three notable UFC fighters have had their profiles removed from UFC.com — a sure sign that they’ve recently been released by the promotion. While it’s always sad to see people lose their jobs right before Christmas, you can’t argue that these three didn’t have it coming. So who felt the axe in the latest round of roster-cuts? Let’s begin…

Alessio Sakara: The Italian striker has been a reliable gatekeeper-presence at light-heavyweight and middleweight since his Octagon debut in 2005, earning solid wins against Elvis Sinosic, Joe Vedepo, Thales Leites, and James Irvin. But training injuries began to pile up beginning in 2009, and Sakara also missed fights due to sudden illness and the loss of his father.

In 2011, Sakara kicked off what would become a four-fight losing streak, when he dropped a decision to newcomer (and future middleweight champion) Chris Weidman, who came into the fight as a short notice injury replacement. After that, Sakara was KO’d by Brian Stann, DQ’d due to rabbit-punches in a fight against Patrick Cote, and armbarred by UFC rookie Nicholas Musoke during his most recent appearance at UFC Fight Night 30 in October. That loss dropped Sakara’s overall UFC record to 6-8 with one no-contest.

George Sotiropoulos: After entering the UFC as semi-finalist on TUF 6 in 2007, Sotiropoulos went on an absolute tear, winning seven fights in a row (which earned him a spot on the all-time leaderboard). In 2010, Sotiropoulos defeated Joe Stevenson, Kurt Pellegrino, and Joe Lauzon, making him a legitimate title contender in the lightweight division. But in a stunning reversal of fortune, Sotriopoulos would never win another fight in the UFC.

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And Now He’s Fired, Again: Joey Beltran Released by UFC After Failed Stint at Light-Heavyweight


(We’ll say one thing for Joey: He kept it gangster. / Photo via Getty)

There are some UFC firings that are shocking or at least sort of controversial. Then there are others you can see coming a mile away. Joey “The Mexicutioner” Beltran‘s latest dismissal by the UFC certainly falls into that second category. Beltran confirmed his latest release yesterday via twitter.

Already fired once in early 2012 following a 3-4 stint at heavyweight — which ended in back-to-back losses against Stipe Miocic and Lavar Johnson — Beltran immediately shed some pounds and tried to reinvent himself as a light-heavyweight. After beating a dude named Anton Talamantes by decision last April, the UFC called Beltran back up to the big leagues two months later for an injury-replacement fight against James Te Huna. Beltran lost the fight by decision — but the match won a Fight of the Night award, and secured Beltran another shot in the Octagon. Everybody loves a gritty Mexican brawler, right?

Beltran followed up his return fight by testing positive for steroids after a unanimous decision win against Igor Pokrajac — the fight was overturned to a no-contest — and losing a split-decision to Fabio Maldonado earlier this month in an match that impressed nobody. All in all, Beltran’s run at 205 pounds resulted in a UFC record of 0-2 with one no-contest/steroid bust; he was winless in his last five Octagon appearances.

The only question that remains is this: Bellator or WSOF?

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And Now He’s Fired: Yushin Okami Released by UFC After Seven Years of ‘Perennial Contender’ Status


(“Look, Andy, you’re clearly still upset about the pool party thing, but I swear, the Evite must have gone to your junk mail folder or something, because we totally included you on the-oh God noooooo NOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!” Photo via Esther Lin/MMAFighting)

“Perennial contender” is a back-handed compliment — it means you were always good enough to hang in the top ten, but never good enough to hold the belt. It suggests a kind of career limbo, in which you’re forever in the mix, highly regarded, but ultimately unsuccessful. Jon Fitch was a perennial contender, and when he was fired by the UFC in February, fans who never liked him in the first place criticized the UFC for getting rid of their #9-ranked contender — as if rankings held any sort of accurate measure of a fighter’s value. Fitch may have been more talented than most welterweights in the world, but he had outlived his usefulness, from both a competitive and promotional standpoint.

And so it goes with Yushin Okami, the latest medium-to-high-profile UFC fighter to be axed by the promotion, who is still listed as the #6 middleweight contender on UFC.com. UFC president Dana White confirmed Okami’s release today, telling Yahoo!’s Kevin Iole:

He’s been with us forever. He was always a tough guy and was right up there, but it’s almost like he’d become a gatekeeper. I like Okami, and you’ve heard me say this many times, that a win over Yushin Okami meant something. But he was never able to get over the hump and win one of those [significant] fights. 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.”

Okami was already a 16-3 veteran when he joined the UFC, with appearances in Pancrase, Pride, Hero’s, and Rumble on the Rock, where he scored a bizarre DQ victory over Anderson Silva in January 2006. “Thunder” made his Octagon debut later that year at UFC 62, and began to steadily rise up the middleweight ranks, winning his first four fights — including decision victories against Alan Belcher and Mike Swick — before losing a #1 contender fight against Rich Franklin at UFC 72.

The rest of Okami’s UFC career would play out the exact same way.

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And Now He’s Fired: Ryan Couture Released From the UFC Following Back-to-Back Losses [UPDATEish]


(Here we are, just a couple of wild and crazy guys!) 

After collecting an impressive 6-1 streak in Strikeforce, Hyan Couture (son of “Handy”) was among the faces to make the transition to the UFC when the promotion was bought out by Zuffa earlier this year*. Unfortunately, it seems that Couture will also be joining the small-but-growing list of Strikeforce fighters who weren’t able to hack it in the big leagues, as the UFC confirmed his release following two consecutive losses earlier today.

Couture last competed at UFC 164 in August, where he dropped a unanimous decision to TUF 15 *finalist* (ouch) Al Iaquinta on the Facebook preliminary portion (Daaaaang!) of the card. In his UFC debut at UFC on FUEL 9, Couture was TKO’d by TUF 9 winner Ross Pearson in the second round.

Although we’re sure this has absolutely nothing to do with the UFC’s ongoing war of words with Randy Couture and company, it will be interesting to see just how many wins Randy Lite will have to score in smaller promotions before he is invited back. Or, if he is invited back (DUN-DUN-DUN).

UPDATE: Three more profiles have been removed from UFC.com. To see who they are, join us after the jump.

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