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Tag: UFC firings

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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The UFC Releases Alleged Neo-Nazi Fighter Benjamin Brinsa


(Photo via @BenjaminBrinsa)

In late July, we gave you the heads-up that a recent UFC signee named Benjamin Brinsa had been accused of having ties with Neo-Nazism and hooligan groups. Though Brinsa vehemently denied the accusations and called it a “smear campaign,” UFC president Dana White promised to look into the claims.

A month and a half later, the UFC has made a decision — Brinsa’s UFC contract has been terminated. MMAFighting confirmed the news with the promotion.

Considering that the undefeated welterweight was already becoming persona non grata in his native country for his dubious associations, the UFC release could be a career-killer. Brinsa has not yet issued a public statement about the news; we’ll update you if and when he does.

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And Now They’re Fired: Gracie, Magalhaes, Herman, And Three Other Fighters Removed From UFC.com Roster


(*yawn*…damn, I was having the most incredible dream. I was being held in the arms of a beautiful woman. She had this long, blonde braid that was tickling my-OH MY GOD, NOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!” / Photo via Getty)

It’s been a while since the UFC has had a good ol’ mass bloodletting, and it looks like the UFC sent out the firing squad this week, with a half-dozen struggling fighters removed from the UFC.com roster after recent losses. Let’s run ‘em down…

Roger Gracie: Gracie’s contract wasn’t renewed after his uninspiring loss to Tim Kennedy during his Octagon debut at UFC 162, officially making him the third-straight Gracie to go “one and done” in the UFC.

Vinny Magalhaes: Vinny’s 14-second knockout loss to Anthony Perosh at UFC 163 made it two defeats in a row for him — following a decision loss against Phil Davis in April — and dropped his overall Octagon record to 1-4, through two stints in the promotion. Last week, the TUF 8 finalist claimed he would retire from MMA if the UFC dropped him. So…good luck, man.

Dave Herman: Four-straight stoppage losses and two failed drug-tests for marijuana — few fighters have had poorer showings in the Octagon than Pee-Wee. It’s a mystery why he even got a chance to fight Gabriel Gonzaga at UFC 162 in the first place, but a 17-second KO loss sealed his fate for good.

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And Now They’re Fired: Karlos Vemola, Roger Hollett, and a Bunch of Guys You’ve Probably Never Heard of Get the Axe


(Hollett’s spinning elbow may have been way off the mark that night, but his impression of a James Toney side check kick was SPOT ON.) 

Another Monday morning means another batch of UFC firings, Nation. Thankfully, none of the names on today’s list should really come as all that big a surprise, so let’s quit beating around the bush and get right to this thing…

Roger “The Hulk” Hollett: This one-time Bellator veteran was originally brought over to face Matt Hamill in his un-retirement fight at UFC 152, was then forced out of the fight do to a contract dispute with his former promotion (Author’s note: My shocked face. Let me show you it.) and replaced by Vladimir Matyushenko, and was then brought back in against Hamill when Vladdy went down with an injury. Unfortunately, the story ends with Hollett getting his ass handed to him in a snoozer at UFC 152, then getting similarly outgunned by Fabio Maldonado at UFC on FX 8 last month. Sad story, bro. This one’s on us.

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And Now They’re Fired: Ding Dong, Ding Dong, Leonard Garcia’s UFC Career Might Finally Be Dead [UPDATED]


(If there was ever an image that summed up Garcia’s UFC experience, this is it.) 

You know, we may have had our fun at Leonard Garcia‘s expense over the years, but when it was passed along that his fighter profile had finally, mercifully been removed from UFC.com’s master list this morning, we were filled with an unexpected sense of dread — the ending of Old Yeller comes to mind.

While it’s true that you could easily fault Garcia for being entertaining to his own detriment (not unlike Chris Lytle, although “Lights Out” did manage to break the .500 mark by the end of his UFC career), it would hard to blame the man himself for being gifted a few decisions or overstaying his welcome in the UFC; Garcia simply showed up when told, always made weight, and put on as entertaining a fight as humanly possible. That’s more than most past or present UFC employees can say, and the fact that Leonard managed to do all this without once testing positive for a banned substance or steroids* should only improve his much grumbled about reputation in the organization.

Unfortunately, Garcia’s 2-7 record in the promotion did little to raise said reputation, hence the removal of his profile — along with the profiles of a few other fighters that we’ll get to in a second — from UFC.com. Dana White had mentioned that Garcia’s UFC future was “not looking good” following his fifth straight loss to Cody McKenzie at UFC 159 last month, so it was only a matter of time before this news broke. With the loss, Garcia joins such company as Steve Cantwell, Elvis Sinosic, and John Alessio as the only UFC fighters to suffer five straight losses in the UFC.

Best of luck, Leonard. Hopefully you can get a couple confidence-boosting wins on the local circuit and work your way back up to the top, because the UFC could always use another fighter who puts the fans before him/herself.

As we mentioned, Garcia’s profile was only one of many to be removed from UFC.com earlier today, so join us after the jump to check out the full list of vitims.

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And Now They’re Fired: Pablo Garza and Clifford Starks Axed by UFC After Recent Losses [UPDATED]


(Good enough to beat up a former title contender. Not quite good enough to remain employed six months later. / Photo via Getty Images)

After losing to Diego Brandao by first-round arm-triangle choke at UFC on FUEL 9 last month, UFC featherweight Pablo Garza has been released by the UFC. Garza confirmed the bad news yesterday, saying that he will focus on coaching and competing in jiu-jitsu for the time being, although he didn’t rule out a return to MMA competition.

Though Garza kicked off his pro career with seven consecutive wins, he endured a couple of setbacks before making it into the UFC. First, he was selected for the TUF 11 lightweight cast, but lost a decision to Michael Johnson in the elimination round before making it into the house. After winning a couple more fights in his native North Dakota, Garza was brought back to the Zuffa fold as a featherweight injury replacement for Jason Reinhardt at WEC 51, and was quickly guillotine choked by Tiequan Zhang.

But the UFC gave him another chance, bringing him into the big leagues after the WEC closed its doors. Garza went on to score back-to-back wins over Fredson Paixao (via Knockout of the Night-earning flying knee) and Yves Jabouin (via Submission of the Night-earning flying triangle). A pair of losses to Dustin Poirier and Dennis Bermudez followed, putting the Scarecrow on thin ice again. But Garza redeemed himself by dominating Mark Hominick in a gritty decision at UFC 154 last November.

The April loss to Brandao sunk Garza’s UFC record to an even 3-3 — not the most impressive tally, but then again, all of Garza’s wins were pretty damn fantastic. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to keep him on the roster. Bummer. In other firing news…

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And Now They’re Fired: Phil De Fries and a Slew of TUF 17 Alums Among the UFC’s Latest Batch of Roster Cuts


(1-0 over constrictive tanktops, 0-1 over actual competition. You will be missed, Gilbert. Photo courtesy of UFC.com) 

The UFC continues to steamroll ahead with its massive roster cuts, Potato Nation. And while we are never one to praise the departure of a Zuffa employee (unless it’s Paul Daley, of course), we should at least be able to take comfort in the fact that there are no Jon Fitch level mind-bogglers for us to mourn this time around. However, the UFC’s most recent list of firings does feature — somewhat unsurprisingly — every TUF 17 alum who came up short in the season’s finale earlier this month, as well as a couple other guys who have had less than successful UFC runs as of late.

Taking out the trash is never fun, so let’s just get this thing over with…

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And Now He’s Fired: Josh Neer a.k.a The Missing Diaz Brother Gets Axed by the UFC for the Third Time


(Seriously, all he’s missing is a lisp and an army of lawyers to enable his incoherent conspiracy theories and he’d fit right in with the 209 crew.)  

We’re not ashamed to admit that — despite his many shortcomings both inside the ring and outJosh Neer will always be one of our favorite fighters. Embracing an “old school,” entertainment over strategy mentality that saw him score back-to-back Fight of the Night awards during his second run in the UFC, the Iowa native has been throwing caution to the wind since 2003 and holds nearly 50 fights to his credit (including notable victories over Mac Danzig, Melvin Guillard, Duane Ludwig, and Joe Stevenson) despite his relatively young age (30).

Unfortunately, it seems as if the third time was not the charm for Neer, as he was recently listed among the UFC’s latest batch of now unemployed fighters, according to MMAOpinion:

Josh Neer (33-13-1) has been released following 3 straight losses inside the Octagon. ‘The Dentist’ a veteran of the sport, was last in action at UFC 157 where he lost a decision to Court McGee. Prior to that Neer had been finished by both Justin Edwards and Mike Pyle. 

Also among the fallen…

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Lavar Johnson Fired Following UFC 157 Drug Test; ‘Big’ Admits to Undergoing Testosterone Replacement Therapy


(“HYPOGONADISM BITCH, ALL DAY!” / Photo via Esther Lin @ MMAFighting)

Though his job appeared to be safe following his UFC 157 decision loss to Brendan Schaub, pissing dirty for steroids turned out to be the kiss of death for heavyweight Lavar “Big” Johnson. In light of his failed drug test, Johnson has been cut by the UFC. In addition, the California State Athletic Commission has hit him with a nine-month suspension, as well as a fine of “around $1,250″ that reflects the cost of the two tests the CSAC used for his drug screening.

MMAJunkie adds some more surprising details about what led to Johnson’s PED bust:

An elevated testestosterone-to-epitestosterone (T/E) ratio of 6.6-to-1 triggered a carbon isotope ratio (CIR) test that confirmed Johnson had testosterone in his system that was “was consistent with the administration of a steroid.” Johnson, though, admitted he was undergoing testosterone replacement therapy in a recent conversation with the California State Athletic Commission, which oversaw the Feb. 23 pay-per-view event at Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif., and suspended him based on the results of his test. Johnson failed to disclose TRT on a pre-fight medical questionnaire. A rep for AKA said the fighter may seek an exemption for the treatment.

Here’s how you know TRT is nothing more than a bullshit cheating-method — when a dude who looks like this claims to need it, and then avoids mentioning it during his pre-fight medicals. Ah well. You can’t say the UFC didn’t warn you. In other UFC drug-bust aftermath news…

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