Tracking the Signings of the Most Recently Cut UFC Fighters
With the news that the UFC has cut more than a dozen fighters and plans on getting rid of a significant number of others, it has been speculated that regional organizations and competitors of the UFC will benefit from the increase in talent on the market.
So far, that has been correct.
From the United States to Europe, MMA promotions are chomping at the bit to sign these elite talents to bring further legitimacy to their companies. With guys like Jon Fitch and Che Mills on the market, that is achievable.
Let's track and see where the most recently let-go fighters have ended up since being shown the door by the UFC.
Free Agents/To Be Announced
Fighters: Wagner Prado, Mike Russow, Vladimir Matyushenko, Jay Hieron, Terry Etim, Paul Sass, Jorge Santiago, Mike Stumpf, Simeon Thoresen, CJ Keith, Motonobu Tezuka, Josh Grispi, Milton Vieira, Diego Nunes
Most fighters recently cut have not announced who they have signed with or if they have been signed yet. However, let's quickly make some speculation on where they could go.
For Vladimir Matyushenko, retirement may be an option. The 40-plus-year-old has slowed down toward the end of his UFC career, and he really has nothing left to prove.
Wagner Prado fought exclusively in Brazil, so staying in their regional circuit would be smart. The same could be said for Milton Vieira; however, he does have experience in Japan, so Deep would be an option.
Mike Russow is the type of heavyweight whom I could see Bellator pursuing. Bellator's heavyweight division had at least three TUF 10: Heavyweights competitors on the roster at one point, and Russow would put them all to shame.
Terry Etim and Paul Sass will likely end up in one of the top British promotions, whether it be BAMMA or Cage Warriors. I am actually quite surprised neither of them has been signed yet.
Motonobu Tezuka should return to Pancrase, an organization with which he has spent most of his career. Meanwhile, Josh Grispi has the type of back story and experience that would attract a company like Bellator.
Mike Stumpf will likely go back to the Midwest regional circuit, though he would benefit greatly from a weight class drop. He is too small for welterweight, as seen in both UFC fights.
Simeon Thoresen will likely go back to fighting in the Scandinavian regional circuit. The same can be said about CJ Keith, except in the Midwest-West region of the US.
I could see both Jorge Santiago and Jay Hieron going to Bellator, a place Hieron has been before. That said, they could end up in a number of places, like World Series of Fighting, which is right in Hieron's backyard.
Speaking of World Series of Fighting, that looks like a great place for Diego Nunes to settle. Nunes is a tough featherweight for any man, and World Series of Fighting could give him solid TV promotion and competition.
Promotion: Legacy Fighting Championship
Matt Riddle was kicked out of the UFC for two failed drug tests due to marijuana. He was quickly signed up by Legacy Fighting Championship, which is based out of Texas.
The growing company has a number of intriguing prospects and old-timers in the company. From jiu-jitsu world champion Robert Drysdale to veterans Junior Assuncao, Antonio Banuelos and Jorge Patino, the company is becoming deep with talent.
As for Riddle, he should fit in nicely. Even though he was finally taking the fight game seriously before his way out of the UFC, he will at least not be ostracized for his cannabis use.
He has the wrestling chops and grappling to be a king of the company. Currently, though, we await his first opponent to be announced in his new home.
The UFC flyweight division was as thin as it was going to be; that was, until Ulysses Gomez got cut for losing his second fight in a row.
Since his departure from the company, Gomez has shopped around many offers before deciding to stay close to him and inking a deal with Pandemonium out of California.
I must confess that I do not know much about the company itself. However, I can tell you that it is as regional of a company as it gets.
Gomez could have signed with one of the bigger organizations, such as Resurrection Fighting Alliance or Legacy Fighting Championship, but he obviously wants to fight closer to home.
He will stay at flyweight, so maybe a couple wins will get him an invite back into the big show.
Promotion: Cage Warriors
Che Mills signed with Cage Warriors just in time to see their welterweight titles change hands. Over the weekend, Cathal Pendred took the title from Gael Grimaud and is now looking for a new top contender.
Pendred is talented, but Che Mills is coming off a stint in the UFC against some tough fighters. He went 2-2 in the organization and stepped in the cage with the likes of Matt Riddle, Duane Ludwig and Rory MacDonald.
Mills is one of the most dangerous strikers at welterweight. Working on his ground game would be smart, as it could bring him great success in Cage Warriors.
We will see how he fares in an organization filled with top European prospects and some not-so-top fighters as well.
Jacob Volkmann and Jon Fitch
Promotion: World Series of Fighting
Jacob Volkmann already knows his first opponent in his new home; Jon Fitch currently awaits his.
Both men were let go from the UFC, despite winning records with the company and good positions in the rankings in their respective divisions. Obviously, both men left on a loss, but they were better than at least 50 percent of the guys in their divisions.
Volkmann is already set to debut at World Series of Fighting 3, where he will meet Strikeforce veteran Lyle Beerbohm. Both men are grapplers, so it should be an interesting affair.
As for Fitch, he does not have one man on his plate yet. It is possible that he would meet a top welterweight in the company, and as of right now, Josh Burkman and Aaron Simpson, set to fight at World Series of Fighting 2, are the top guys at 170.
These two guys could help build World Series of Fighting's reputation.