We all knew these roster cuts wouldn’t be easy. With as many as fifty fighters scheduled to get the axe, some hearts are bound to get broken. Today Din Thomas, Tommy Speer, and Kuniyoshi Hironaka became the latest UFC fighters to hit the free agency market against their will. If you would, a moment of silence for the fallen.
Okay, that’s enough. While we’re all no doubt saddened by these departures, we should remember the good times.
Like Din Thomas. Remember when he was arrested for holding unlicensed fights at his gym in Florida? And remember when those charges were later dropped because of a loophole in state law? That was fun. Two losses in a row spelled doom for him, though, especially in the talent-rich lightweight division.
Or Kuniyoshi Hironaka. He won “Fight of the Night” for his bout with Jonathan Goulet at UFC 83. He received a nice bonus for his valiant effort in the loss, and then was shown the door for losing three of his four UFC fights.
And who could forget Tommy Speer? He made things easy on the editors of “The Ultimate Fighter” by repeatedly casting himself as a strong young farm boy every time the cameras turned his way. It was enough to get him to the finale, but a loss to Mac Danzig followed by ending up on the business end of a highlight reel KO by Anthony Johnson suggested that maybe he wasn’t ready for the big time just yet.
The important thing is that, while they may be gone from the UFC, they are not forgotten. Thomas could easily move down to 145 and be a strong contributor for one of the smaller organizations. Speer still needs a little seasoning, and working his way back up the ranks the old-fashioned way (not on a reality show) is probably the best way to do it.
As for Hironaka, he will likely return to Japan and perhaps join the sprawling but beautiful chaos that is Dream. That, or commit seppuku. Either way, we wish him the best.