When UFC mainstay Jon Fitch was unceremoniously released from the company last Wednesday, it was an immediate wake-up call to every single fighter on the roster.
With a 14-3-1 record inside the Octagon, Fitch has been a world-ranked welterweight for more than five years. If he can be released only one fight after reinventing himself in a Fight of the Night performance at UFC 153, no fighter is safe.
Fitch wasn't the only one released. UFC standouts Vladimir Matyushenko, Terry Etim and Jacob Volkmann also highlighted the 16-man list of newly released fighters.
There's 100 more guys that are gonna go. It's not over. We have 475 guys under contract. We have over 100 guys too many. We have over 100 guys too many on the roster right now. What's going to happen is, if you lose, the blood has not all been spilled yet. There's more coming.
With that startling news in mind, here is a look at 50 fighters who are likely to be released for various reasons.
Before we get into the obvious conversation of Josh Koscheck and his $73,000 show money, let's ask a question that should be on everyone's mind: What does a TKO loss to unranked Robbie Lawler mean?
This is the second straight loss for Koscheck and it essentially guarantees that the 35-year-old will not be returning to the welterweight title picture.
Now that Kos is relegated to gatekeeper status, he could still make some waves, however, there are plenty of welterweights who can fill the same role without a potential $146,000 in fees.
Guillard has lost four of his last five fights. Not to mention the fact that his $42,000 base pay is pretty hefty for a fighter who now sits near the bottom of the crowded lightweight division.
Despite Guillard's popularity and propensity to score big knockouts, there is no doubt that he is on the chopping block at this point. After all, "The Young Assassin" hasn't scored a knockout since July 2011.
Once an undefeated stud in the Strikeforce ranks, Shane del Rosario has been unable to get into the win column since moving into the UFC.
Shane has the unfortunate record of 0-2 inside the Octagon and both losses came by way of second-round knockout. It's hard to defend him keeping a roster spot during a firing spree.
At UFC 157, Josh Neer and Court McGee battled in a welterweight clash of fighters destined to be released. Both men entered the fight on the back on consecutive losses on Saturday, Neer picked up his third.
Few fighters can see their contract survive the dreaded triple loss. If the welterweight division doesn't have room for Jon Fitch, I doubt very highly that it has room for Josh Neer.
Lavar Johnson is a monster. Standing toe-to-toe with any heavyweight on the planet, Johnson has the firepower to put any man to sleep. Unfortunately, people are on to his game plans and lack of grappling defense.
Johnson has been dominated in his last two fights: a decision loss to Brendan Schaub and a 65-second armbar loss to Stefan Struve.
If Johnson works on his takedown defense, he stands to be a force to be reckoned with. He just isn't there yet.
Three straight losses? Check.
Two failed drug tests? Check.
Dave Herman on the hot seat? Absolutely.
Matt Mitrione might be one of the only The Ultimate Fighter alumni to begin his UFC career 5-0, but those days are long gone.
Mitrione dropped back-to-back fights to Cheick Kongo and Roy Nelson to derail any momentum he once possessed, but that's not the reason he is on the chopping block.
"Meathead" drew the ire of UFC president Dana White for turning down the opportunity to move into Strikeforce for an interpromotional matchup against Daniel Cormier on short notice. When Mitrione declined, the entire event was cancelled and White was not happy.
You've got to do what's best for your career, and that's possibly what Mitrione did by refusing the contest with Cormier. However, pissing off the boss is never a good idea.
Go ahead and throw Mitrione's next opponent, British powerhouse Phil de Fries, onto this list too. Losing two of his last three, a loss in April would certainly spell doom.
Fun Fact: When fighting in his native England, de Fries went undefeated in nine professional fights. Outside of the U.K., he has an abysmal 1-2 record.
Brandon Vera's trio of losses inside the Octagon led to his release once before. However, that decision was reversed when opponent Thiago Silva's drug test came back "inconsistent with human urine."
The only win that Vera has secured since 2009 came in a fight where Eliot Marshall broke his arm with a third-round armbar, but "The Truth" refused to tap out.
Vera looked solid in an August fight with Shogun Rua, but he needs a win in the worst way.
Speaking of Thiago Silva and his tainted pee, the Brazilian striker definitely belongs on this list. Were it not for Silva's apparent inability to pass a drug test, he would be 3-3 in recent performances.
However, wins against Brandon Vera and Stanislav Nedkov were overturned, and Silva has only one win in his last six performances.
Not to mention that Silva's paychecks are big enough that he topped the payroll at UFC 125. For those of you playing the home game, that means he made more money than defending champion Frankie Edgar.
Can't win fights and has a huge paycheck? Sounds like chopping-block material to me.
Despite a tendency to turn in exciting performances, Ultimate Fighter alumnus George Roop has come up short in three of his last four fights. Most recently knocked out by Cub Swanson last January.
At UFC 158, Roop returns to the bantamweight division in hopes of finding more success. However, if he comes up short against Reuben Duran, there is nothing short of a Fight of the Year performance that can save his job.
Who in God's name decided to bring Joey Beltran back into the UFC? I understand that he was a late replacement and good fighters on short notice are hard to come by, but "The Mexecutioner" was fresh off of a UFC stint where he lost four of his last five fights.
Since returning, Beltran has a loss and a win that was stripped due to a failed drug test. The fact that he hasn't already been cut is shocking.
KID Yamamoto debuted inside the Octagon with tremendous expectations. The Japanese superstar lost only one time in his first 19 bouts, and was once considered the world's best featherweight.
In 2011, Yamamoto debuted against Demetrious Johnson and was outgrappled for 15 minutes. Two fights later, KID holds a UFC record of 0-3 and has not competed in one year.
Igor Pokrajac is not a bad fighter, however, his fight IQ is pretty awful. Why he would look for a takedown against a submission wizard like Vinny Magalhaes?
That "Bonehead Move of the Year" candidate highlights the fact that Pokrajac lost his last two, although the most recent became a NC after opponent Joey Beltran failed a drug test.
The light heavyweight division needs depth, however, Pokrajac would certainly benefit from honing his skills on the independent circuit moreso than torching his record against opponents who outclass him.
Kyle Kingsbury may be contemplating retirement, but that doesn't mean that the UFC isn't going to release him from his contract in the meantime.
"Kingsbu" has lost three straight contests inside the Octagon, and in two of them, he was absolutely battered by promotional newcomers Glover Teixeira and Jimi Manuwa.
How in God’s name did Roger Hollett get a second fight in the UFC? At UFC 154, he put on perhaps the worst performance in UFC history when an out-of-shape Matt Hamill manhandled the Bellator import for three rounds.
Hollett’s performance at the event was a slap in the face to any light heavyweight who is working hard to earn their way into the UFC, as they were overlooked in favor of this waste of a roster spot.
No. Paulo Thiago is not planking before a befuddled Siyar Bahadurzada. That's simply the tremendous state of unconsciousness he was in after only 42 seconds of action.
The loss was the third in his last four appearances, with the only win coming over the underperforming David Mitchell. Since that time, the Brazilian lost one more to Dong Hyun Kim back in November.
Like the man himself, the most recent performances of Rousimar Palhares have been both short and ugly.
The leglock machine was quickly knocked out by both Alan Belcher and Hector Lombard in 2012, and he had the nerve to test positive for elevated levels of testosterone in December.
Drug cheat on a losing streak? Easily dismissed.
In 2010, Jason MacDonald was brought back into the UFC for a second stint with the company. Unfortunately for the Canadian, he didn't have as much success in his sophomore effort.
MacDonald has lost three of his four fights since returning to the company and each loss saw him finished within four minutes.
"The Athlete" wants to retire with a storybook ending. The question is, will the UFC keep him on the roster long enough to give him the opportunity?
Give credit where it is due: Ed Herman stepped up when very few would have and faced a very dangerous Ronaldo Souza on very short notice. For that reason, we are willing to overlook the fact that he was outclassed and submitted in the first round.
Herman would be 3-3 in his most recent appearances were it not for Jake Shields failing a post-fight drug test at UFC 150. Instead, he sits 3-2 (1), which isn't a whole lot better.
At UFC 150, Herman made $31,000 just to show up. Is the UFC looking to shell out that kind of cash to fighters who are barely staying afloat in the middleweight division?
Karlos Vemola is quickly becoming an unsuccessful version of Kenny Florian. When the going gets tough, the fighter cuts weight. Debuting as a heavyweight, Vemola has alternated wins and losses in five fights and has changed weight classes twice.
Now competing as a middleweight, Vemola was looking to upset Chris Leben at UFC 155, but he was forced from the contest due to injury.
Keeping in mind that the UFC just picked up a quality crop of middleweights from Strikeforce, there is little upside to Vemola staying with the organization..
Clay Guida was once one of the most popular fighters competing in the UFC. Known for epic brawls with Roger Huerta and Tyson Griffin, "The Carpenter" was a high-energy freak who you could count on to provide thrill after thrill until a fight's conclusion.
These days, Guida looks to utilize a different style. To hear UFC president Dana White talk about it, the Guida of today isn't the same man he once was.
He was a buzzsaw and just moves forward and doesn't stop and he keeps going until he eventually breaks you. Now he does the exact opposite, he runs. Nobody wants to see that.
Guida is one of the few featherweights on the UFC roster with some name value, but with his rapidly developing reputation as a "safe fighter," the Clay Guida brand isn't worth his near-$40,000 show money.
Nate Marquardt may have won his first world title last year, but it appears that his skill set is in decline. What other reason could there be for his apparent refusal to check an endless supply of leg kicks being thrown at him by Tarec Saffiedine?
Marquardt got outworked by an opponent who wasn't really on anyone's radar and now thinks he is going to make a splash in the UFC's ultra-competitive welterweight division. Good luck with that one!
"The Great" makes his return to the Octagon in a fight with Jake Ellenberger. It's not an enviable position for anyone to be in, especially someone who has a history of being on Dana White's bad side.
Remember when Rick Story was a title contender holding a six-fight winning streak inside the Octagon? Remember when he was the threatening fighter who Jon Fitch wasn't willing to tangle with? Man, those were the days.
In his last fight, he was completely manhandled by Demian Maia and choked out in brutal fashion. The last person who Maia turned into a sock puppet was Jon Fitch, who is currently seeking employment.
History lesson aside, Story has lost three of his last four and is living on borrowed time.
For Amir Sadollah, things haven't quite gone the way that he planned.
The UFC has tried to be as accommodating as possible by feeding Sadollah stylistic matchups that give him the best chance of success. However, when given the opportunity to show off his Muay Thai skills against strikers Duane Ludwig and Dan Hardy, the Ultimate Fighter winner came up short in a pair of decisions.
At UFC 160, Sadollah meets an even better striker in the form of Stephen Thompson. A loss marks the third in a four-fight run. Will he join the likes of Joe Stevenson, Efrain Escudero, James Wilks and Travis Lutter as a TUF winner not good enough to keep his roster spot?
Man. Just when you think I'm gonna say nice things about someone, they end up on the next slide.
Duane Ludwig is a great striker, but the upside ends there. He's got tremendous heart, but that doesn't make up for his 0-3 run in 2012.
I really like Ludwig, so I'm not going to say anything else.
Yoshihiro Akiyama has four losses in a row and his only UFC victory was deemed controversial. Add that to his $45,000 paycheck just to show up, and you can easily understand why "Sexyama" breaks a sweat every time his phone rings.
The fights from Season 16 of The Ultimate Fighter were so boring that Dana White didn't invite back any cast members other than the tournament finalists to compete at the show's finale.
On Saturday night, Jon Manley decided that being exciting wasn't a priority when he tried to grind his way to victory against Neil Magny. Thankfully, Magny came out victorious and another grinder who wants to clinch against the cage will find his way into the unemployment line.
Lance Benoist is an exciting fighter, so it's hard to put him on this list based on performances. However, the welterweight division is jacked up with more talent than they can support and someone has got to go.
Having lost two straight fights, Benoist sits near the bottom of the divisional ladder and there isn't much upside to keeping him around other than an exciting matchup for Facebook prelims.
The UFC tends to develop undefeated fighters in a way that grants them the ability to move quickly to the top of their division without putting them in stylistic matchups that are too threatening. When Stephen Thompson met Matt Brown at UFC 145, that's what many thought was happening.
However, Brown outworked and outclassed Thompson to score a massive upset against a fighter whose future in title contention was being discussed as if it were a certainty.
Without the undefeated record, Thompson isn't worth much to the UFC. If he comes up short against Amir Sadollah, you'd better believe that the ax will fall hard.
Like his fight on Saturday night, I'll keep this short and sweet.
A record of 0-2 in the UFC and no name value is a recipe for a pink slip. Go tune up your game in Bellator, Jardine. You seem like a fighter who wants to be exciting, but you're a bit overmatched in the UFC.
Regardless of who you are, if you debut inside the Octagon losing a boring fight, it's hard to make a case for you to keep your job.
On Saturday night, Fodor lost a split decision against Sam Stout for his second straight loss. Even with the lightweight division losing names like Frankie Edgar and Clay Guida, there isn't room for any dead weight.
Fodor deserves another fight, but nobody is safe.
Brazilian lightweight Gleison Tibau has been a mainstay at 155 pounds for years. With show money of $31,000 and another $31,000 for a win, this takedown machine is an expensive guy to bring inside the Octagon.
However, Dana White isn't getting what he's paying for out of this deal. Tibau hasn't been in an exciting fight in quite some time and is 1-2 in recent performances.
Put Sam Stout in the same category as Clay Guida. Once a fighter known for his thrilling performances, Stout has elected to embrace the grind in hopes of earning a victory that he can no longer put together with his hands.
Stout earned a split-decision victory on Saturday night, which will temporarily keep the ax from his neck. However, if he grinds again and comes up short, expect no mercy.
In September 2010, former UFC lightweight champion Sean Sherk won a controversial decision against Evan Dunham. Since that time, a series of injuries have left "The Muscle Shark" on the sidelines for the final years of his 30s.
The UFC currently pays for medical expenses for injuries that occur while under contract. So in other words, they have been footing the bill for Sherk despite the wrestler not competing for 30 straight months.
Turning 40 in August, there is no guarantee that Sherk will ever return. He wants to give it one last go, but not all dreams come true.
The Ultimate Fighter winner Mac Danzig might have won Fight Night bonuses in three of his last four performances, but that doesn't change the fact that he has a recent record of 3-6.
No part of me wants to see Danzig part ways with the UFC. In recent performances, he has been exciting and willing to throw caution to the wind. However, with FightMatrix ranking him as the No. 43 lightweight on the planet, it's hard to justify his $27,000 show money.
It wasn't long ago that Aussie George was a bona fide title contender in the lightweight division. However, since that time, Sotiropoulos has dropped three straight and has been knocked out twice in the process.
Three strikes, you're out!
Tiequan Zhang might just be the worst grappler on the entire UFC roster. The amount of basic mistakes made by the Chinese fighter is simply unacceptable at the premier level of competition.
This deficiency has led to losses in three straight fights and in four of his last five.
Many feel that Zhang only kept his job in hopes of putting a hometown fighter on the UFC's debut in China. That occurred in November of last year, but somehow "The Mongolian Wolf" is still on the roster. Hopefully, this is an error that will be corrected shortly.
Stephens has lost his last three fights inside the Octagon, including a brutal finish at the hands of Yves Edwards in December.
On top of that, Stephens brought some bad press to the UFC after being arrested on felony assault charges back in October.
Cole Miller used to be one of the most exciting lightweights in the UFC. Winning five Fight Night bonuses, Miller fully embraced the Kenny Florian "I finish fights" mentality.
However, Miller has fallen off in recent performances. Gone is his grappling success that saw him victorious in six of his first eight fights. Since that time, Cole has lost three of his last four contests, including a pair of fights at featherweight.
Put Shane Carwin in the same category as Sean Sherk.
"The Engineer" is a former champion with a sizable fanbase, but he has been plagued by injuries that keep him from the cage. Between neck, back and knee surgeries, it seems that Carwin's body is failing him.
Is the UFC going to keep paying Carwin's medical bills without any guarantee that he will be healthy enough to return at some point?
Similar to Ronda Rousey, The Ultimate Fighter alumnus Cody McKenzie is known for his trademark submission. Utilizing the guillotine choke 11 times to score a first-round stoppage, the signature hold has been redubbed the McKenzietine for it's accuracy and effectiveness.
That being said, this one-trick pony hasn't done well since joining the UFC roster. In his most recent performances, McKenzie is 1-3 and most recently suffered a 31-second knockout loss to Chad Mendes.
$70,000 to show and another $70,000 to win. That's the salary of French striker Cheick Kongo.
When you consider how tremendously terrible his fight against Shawn Jordan was at UFC 149, that must have been the most bitter check that Dana White has ever signed.
If that were the only boring Kongo fight, it might be forgivable. However, at UFC 137, Kongo put on an equally dreadful performance in a lackluster win over Matt Mitrione.
Boring fights and big paychecks. Isn't that exactly why Fitch got released?
"But Hatsu Hioki just got robbed by the judges in his fight against Clay Guida!"
Just ask Ulysses Gomez if the UFC cares whether your most recent loss is the byproduct of a bad judges' decision.
Japanese featherweight Hatsu Hioki was recently a top contender in the division and was even offered a UFC 147 bout opposite Jose Aldo. However, "the Iron Broom" turned down the opportunity in lieu of getting one additional fight under his belt.
Fans everywhere know how Dana White feels about fighters who turn down big opportunities. Add that to the fact that Hioki has dropped two straight and you'll understand why he is in danger.
Within a 24-hour period in December, The Ultimate Fighter crowned lightweight winners on two different seasons of the hit reality program. It also crowned two runners-up.
Mike Ricci and Colin Fletcher both came up short in decisions that saw their tournament hopes dashed.
At UFC 158, these men will do battle in hopes of securing their first win inside the Octagon. The winner will earn a contract, but the loser will be an easy candidate to be released.
Former world flyweight champion Jussier Formiga (formerly da Silva) was once the top 125-pound fighter on the planet.
Holding a 14-1 record upon his arrival in the UFC, there were high hopes that Formiga would prove himself to be a future contender for their newly minted flyweight championship.
Instead, Formiga was knocked out by flyweight powerhouse John Dodson in a performance that didn't bode well for the Nova Uniao fighter's UFC future. He has yet to be booked for a followup contest, but he is certainly deserving of a second bout.
Italian boxer Alessio Sakara is in the middle of a career-worst three-fight losing streak. Although his DQ against Patrick Cote came in a competitive bout, losses to Brian Stann and Chris Weidman were one-sided.
Between knee injuries, an ACL tear and kidney illness, Sakara has a hard time keeping himself healthy. With the UFC offering medical insurance, "Legionarius" is an expensive guy to keep on the roster.
WEC standout Bart Palaszewski was the first to defeat Anthony Pettis in competition, although he hasn't fared so well recently. Currently, "Bartimus" is 1-3 in recent bouts and looked absolutely horrible in a UFC 144 bout against Hatsu Hioki.
Palaszewski is currently scheduled to meet fellow chopping-block member Cole Miller in April at The Ultimate Fighter finale. Think of it as a loser-leaves-town match.
Thiago Alves is always exciting to watch and is dangerous against any man. However, the Brazilian Muay Thai machine has been unable to get his arm raised when competing with ranked fighters in recent years.
While his most recent salary of $33,000 doesn't quite match the $60,000 he made back at UFC 100, that might be a bit too high for a knockout artist who hasn't scored a KO in nearly five years.
Currently, Alves is coming off of a submission loss to Martin Kampmann, his fourth shortcoming in six fights. It's hard to defend "The Pitbull" keeping his job when guys with better records are being shown the door.
Based on the salaries from UFC 150, Jake Shields currently makes $75,000 just to show up to a fight. If he is victorious on any given night, that number doubles. That's the benefit of being signed to the UFC while holding a world title from their biggest competitor.
However, the UFC isn't getting what they pay for. Shields has looked anemic since joining the organization in 2010. Wins over Yoshihiro Akiyama and Martin Kampmann were unimpressive and controversial, and his losses to Georges St-Pierre and Jake Ellenberger were completely one-sided.