The UFC doesn’t seem to really care about having the best fighters anymore, they’ve let a lot of upper level guys leave for greener pastures after refusing to match what other promorions were iwlling to pay. Even when a UFC fighters contract is up, the UFC still has the right to match what any competitor is willing to pay.
Here are some of the top fighters that have been let go in recent months:
- Rory MacDonald – Ranked #2 when he left.
- Ryan Bader – #4-5 in one of the thinnest weight classes that desperately needs contenders.
- Lorenz Larkin – #5 or JUST outside top 5
- Cirkunov – One of the most promising prospects
Usually we see older guys heading to other promotions, or guys who can’t really keep up in the UFC anymore. Sometimes, it’s younger guys who use the lesses competition as a chance to step up their game before returning to the Octagon. In these cases, these are already legit, recognizable fighters near the tops of the weight classes.
It’s unclear why the UFC is much more willing lately to let top talent leave, but it probabally has to do with trying to make back their msasive investment for the new owners, and focus on a few big names rather than having a strong well-rounded roster filled with killers. The more top guys you release or don’t resign, the easier the competition will be for Conor when he moves up to LHW, right?
Now add Kyoji Horiguchi to that list. He’s ranked right at the top of his division, the dude is 18-2 and his only loss since 2012 has come to Mighty Mouse. Since his MM loss, he’s gone on to beat Seery, Camus, and Bagutinov. The guy’s legit, he belongs right at the top of the division, and he almost went 5 rounds with the champ (Before getting arm-barred with about a second left in the fight.)
Now, he’s off in search of greener pastures. He’s 7-1 in the UFC, at the top of his class, it makes you wonder why the UFC would let him go. He’s not the biggest name, but don’t we want the BEST fighters?
Title shots are given out as bargaining chips it seems, and there’s always been an element of money fights and not just the best vs the best, but it’s never felt so transparent as it has lately. The UFC would put on the big money fights even when they didn’t make sense with the rankings, but they’d also bend over backwards to ensure they had the top talent on the roster.
If you keep letting top fighters leave, and all you’re left with is month fights, that leaves the door wide open for another promotion to come in and really start gaining ground once the novelty wears off, and it’s no surprise that Bellator is snapping up everyone they can from the UFC. From guys past their prime like Tito, Chael, Shamrock, Gracie… to young up and coming contenders, the UFC has got to be careful who else they let go.
We don’t know all the details, he could have been asking for some kind of massive contract that the UFC just couldn’t justify, so we can’t throw them under the bus just yet, but it seems like they’re more willing than ever to let talented fighters leave, if they don’t have a million twitter followers.