5 Fighters the UFC Needs to Re-Sign
There is seemingly no rhyme or reason to the UFC's policy when it comes to releasing fighters. The randomness of the process routinely befuddles even the most knowledgeable MMA fans.
Some fighters are given the proverbial axe at the drop of a hat, while others are given innumerable opportunities regardless of their performance.
A lot of this has to do with popularity and fanbase, but not in all instances.
There are plenty of fighters who were cut from the UFC for various reasons, legitimate or otherwise. These five in particular really got the short end of the stick and deserve another chance to taste victory inside the Octagon.
Anthony Johnson (15-4)
photo courtesy of mmafighting.com
UFC Record: 7-4
While fighting in the UFC, Anthony Johnson was by far the biggest man at 170, but his well-documented struggles to make that weight ultimately led to his dismissal.
In his middleweight debut at UFC 142, Johnson was submitted by Vitor Belfort via rear naked choke. While it should have been easier for "Rumble" to make weight at 185, he still tipped the scale a whopping 12 pounds heavier.
After the loss, Johnson was cut from the UFC. He bounced around smaller fight promotions before finding a home with World Series of Fighting.
Now competing at a more natural 205, "Rumble" has won all five of his most recent fights, even defeating former UFC heavyweight champ Andrei Arlovski via unanimous decision.
Johnson has never had problems outside the cage and his fights never lack excitement. If he has truly ironed out his weight issues, then he would be a welcome addition to the light heavyweight division, and a fight against Phil Davis in his return would be awesome.
Che Mills (15-6, 2 NC)
Paul Abell-USA TODAY Sports
UFC Record: 2-1, 1 NC
Che Mills was inexplicably cut from the UFC after dropping a close split decision to Matthew Riddle in February 2013. The loss was later ruled a no contest when Riddle's post-fight drug test came back positive for marijuana metabolites. Regardless of the change, Mills was still given his walking papers.
Mills got a raw deal during his stint in the UFC. In his first fight, he defeated a mediocre Chris Cope via TKO. The finish earned him Knockout of the Night.
After that cream-puff fight, Mills was thrown to the wolves. He took on Top-10 welterweight terror Rory MacDonald at UFC 145. Mills was ill prepared for this jump in competition and was subsequently dominated by the far superior MacDonald.
However, this is par for the course for the UFC, whose win-now culture tends to rush talented fighters. Mills is a prime example of this practice, and he should have had more of an opportunity to mature inside the cage.
If given another chance to compete under the bright lights of the UFC, then a stylistically compatible matchup with likes of Rick Story or Dan Miller would be a great set-up for him.
Yasuhiro Urushitani (20-6-6)
photo courtesy of sherdog.com
UFC Record: 0-2
Yasuhiro Urushitani came into the UFC as a well-respected fighter and the former Shooto Bantamweight (123-pound) champion. He fought Joseph Benavidez in the first flyweight bout in UFC history. Urushitani lost the fight via second-round TKO (punches).
In his next bout, Urushitani dropped a tough unanimous decision to another Top-10 flyweight in John Lineker. He was then cut from a division that has a roster of only 14 total fighters.
After his release, Urushitani got back to his winning ways with a split-decision victory over Rey Docyogen at ONE FC 9: Rise to Power in May.
A fight with Ian "Uncle Creepy" McCall would make perfect sense for Urushitani's return to the Octagon, given that both fighters have had equal amounts of success in their UFC tenures.
Andrei Arlovski (19-10)
photo courtesy of mmafighting.com
UFC Record: 10-4
Andrei Arlovski is a former UFC heavyweight champion, having won the strap after defeating Tim Sylvia via submission at UFC 51. He successfully defended the title twice and has a record of 3-2 in championship fights.
Arlovski won his last two bouts with the promotion, including a unanimous-decision victory over two-time BJJ world champion Fabricio Werdum at UFC 70. Even though Arlovski was riding a three-fight win streak, the UFC could not come to terms on his contract and he left to fight for Affliction.
"The Pit Bull" hit the skids a little bit, dropping all four of his fights under the Strikeforce banner. However, since leaving Strikeforce and beginning to train with Greg Jackson, Arlovski has righted the ship and started looking more like the fighter of old.
After competing for seemingly every MMA organization under the sun, Arlovski landed at the newly formed World Series of Fighting.
Still, given the lack of depth at heavyweight and Roy Nelson's surge to the top of the division, a bout between him and Arlovski would be a barn burner. The matchup is even more tantalizing considering that "The Pit Bull" remains the only fighter to ever knock out Nelson...and that includes Junior dos Santos.
Paul Daley (32-12-2)
photo courtesy of mmamania.com
UFC Record: 2-1
Paul Daley was infamously sent packing when he sucker-punched Josh Koscheck after the bell of their welterweight title eliminator bout at UFC 113.
In an interview with Gareth A. Davies of The Daily Telegraph, UFC President Dana White stated unequivocally that, "[Daley] will not fight in the UFC again. He's done. If he does fight again in the UFC, it will not be for another 100 years."
Nearly three years later, White has not budged from this stance.
Since cutting ties with the UFC, Daley has stayed busy fighting for a number of second-tier MMA promotions, most notably Strikeforce. "Semtex" has won nine of his last 12, finishing more than half by way of knockout.
Despite his successes, when Strikeforce was folded into the UFC, Daley's name was conspicuously absent from the roster. He is currently signed to Bellator, the second largest MMA organization, but has been barred from North America due to an arrest stemming from a brawl at a pub in England.
Though Daley may never get the opportunity to compete for the 170-pound belt, there are still a number of compelling fights for him in the UFC's stacked welterweight division.
"Semtex" hits like a truck and rematches with either Koscheck or Nick Diaz would be exciting fights for his return to the Octagon, especially if the UFC plans a card for London in the near future.