UFC Roster Cuts: 8 Fighters Who Should Be Next on the Block

Andrew Saunders@SaundersMMACorrespondent IIOctober 29, 2013

UFC Roster Cuts: 8 Fighters Who Should Be Next on the Block

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    In early 2013, the MMA world was shocked by the UFC's mass roster purge, which included major names like Jon Fitch and Vladimir Matyushenko. UFC president Dana White promised that many more cuts would be coming and that no one was safe.

    Fast-forward nine months and let's take a look at the current UFC roster. Prominent names such as Yushin Okami, Rousimar Palhares and Roger Gracie can be found among the dozens of fighters cut throughout the year.

    Whom does the UFC executioner have his eye on? Who is fighting for their job the next time that they step into the cage? Who is likely waiting for their pink slip instead of a bout assignment?

    Here is a look at several fighters who are on the chopping block.

Expected Cuts

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    Several fighters currently on the UFC roster have recently dropped a fight and tacked on negative momentum. These fighters are currently in a position where their release seems inevitable.

    Alessio Sakara

    • Currently on a four-fight losing streak
    • Winless since 2010
    • Three consecutive first-round losses

    George Sotiropoulos

    • Currently on a four-fight losing streak
    • Winless since 2010
    • Once considered top contender at 155 pounds

    Nate Marquardt

    • Currently on a three-fight losing streak
    • Back-to-back losses by first-round knockout
    • Former Strikeforce welterweight champion
    • One-time UFC middleweight challenger

    Iliarde Santos

    • Currently on a three-fight losing streak
    • Holds UFC record of 0-3
    • Recently lost via second-round TKO

    Michael Kuiper

    • Currently on a two-fight losing streak
    • Holds UFC record of 1-3
    • Recently lost via first-round submission

    Dustin Pague

    • Currently on a four-fight losing streak
    • Holds UFC record of 1-5
    • Recently lost via second-round TKO

Brandon Vera

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    Brandon Vera was once considered one of the hottest up-and-comers in all of mixed martial arts.

    After debuting with a 4-0 record in the UFC, Vera proclaimed that he would win the heavyweight championship before moving down and claiming additional gold at 205 pounds.

    Since that time, "The Truth" has competed against some of the best fighters on the planet—but he's put together a record of 4-7 with one no-contest. Despite the lackluster record, Vera has performed admirably against world champions Shogun Rua and Randy Couture.

    Vera competed most recently at UFC 164, where he suffered a third-round TKO loss to Ben Rothwell. The loss could potentially be overturned to a no-contest after Rothwell tested positive for elevated levels of testosterone. No change has been made as of this time, although Rothwell has been suspended by the UFC for nine months.

    Currently, Vera is in a skid that has seen his arm raised only once in his last six bouts. The fact that he has not been released two months after his most recent loss suggests that he will get one more chance to get back in the win column.

Norifumi "Kid" Yamamoto

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    Once considered to be the greatest lighter weight fighter on the planet, Yamamoto opened his career with only one loss in 19 bouts.

    Since joining the UFC, however, the Japanese legend has been a disappointment.

    Currently sporting a 0-3 record in the UFC, Yamamoto has been defeated by three opponents who eventually moved into the flyweight division. 

    The hard-hitting bantamweight has been repeatedly outgrappled during his Zuffa career. 

    Yamamoto was scheduled to make his first appearance in 19 months at UFC 165, but he was forced from the contest due to injury.

Uriah Hall

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    At the beginning of 2013, fans of The Ultimate Fighter closely watched Uriah Hall as he brutally disposed of all three opponents en route to the tournament final. The wins led to an extraordinary amount of hype from UFC president Dana White as to Hall's legacy as the best TUF fighter in the show's history.

    That momentum came to an abrupt halt when Hall was defeated by underdog Kelvin Gastelum at the show's finale.

    As if that were not enough, Hall came up short in a follow-up appearance against John Howard. The loss prompted White to state that "Prime Time" will be released should he drop his next bout.

    Hall is scheduled to face Chris Leben at UFC 168 in December.

Igor Pokrajac

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    When striker Igor Pokrajac hunted for a takedown against jiu-jitsu wizard Vinny Magalhaes at UFC 152, he displayed one of the lowest fight IQs in recent memory.

    As you would expect that sort of encounter to end, Pokrajac was quickly submitted.

    Were it not for a failed drug test from opponent Joey Beltran, Pokrajac would be on a three-fight losing streak. Their December 2012 bout was originally a decision loss for the Croatian, but it was overturned to a no-contest.

    The last time that "The Duke" had his arm raised inside the Octagon was in May 2012. There, he was awarded a controversial decision win against Fabio Maldonado after being outstruck 166-64.

    Now holding a UFC record of 4-5 (1), Pokrajac has his back against the ropes when taking on former Strikeforce champion Rafael Cavalcante at UFC Fight Night 32 on November 9.

Thiago Silva

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    Between missing weight, failing drug tests and a four-year stretch with no wins, there hasn't been a whole lot of reason to get behind Brazilian striker Thiago Silva.

    After opening his UFC career with a mark of 4-0, the undefeated Silva would take home a win in only one of his next six bouts. During that stretch, the Blackzilian fighter suffered a trio of losses and was stripped of two victories due to failed drug tests.

    Earlier this year, Silva picked up his first recorded victory since 2009 when he knocked out Rafael Cavalcante in their native Brazil.

    Most recently, a flabby and out-of-shape Silva badly missed weight for a contest against Matt Hamill. During the bout, cardio went out the window en route to a lackluster decision victory.

    Some guys get fired for losing fights. Silva should be fired for his lack of professionalism and inability to adhere to the rules.

Tiequan Zhang

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    Zhang joined the Zuffa ranks under the WEC banner in 2010. Since that time, Zhang has put together an unimpressive record of 2-4 and has dropped a trio of consecutive bouts.

    Most recently, Zhang competed on the UFC's long-awaited debut in China last November. It was there that he lost a back-and-forth bout against Ultimate Fighter castoff Jon Tuck. Despite losing four of his last five contests, Zhang somehow remains a member of the hyper-competitive lightweight division.

    Currently, "The Mongolian Wolf" does not have a fight on the books. However, with the UFC planning a return to Macau in March, it is likely that Zhang will enter the Octagon at least once more.

Yoshihiro Akiyama

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    Anytime we talk about fighters who are on the cusp of being released by the UFC, conversation lands on Korean fighter Yoshihiro Akiyama. After all, "Sexyama" is one of few fighters to remain contracted by Zuffa despite accumulating four straight losses in the Octagon.

    Akiyama debuted at UFC 100, where he won a close and controversial decision over Alan Belcher. Since that time, the judo master has been unable to stay in the win column.

    For those of you keeping score at home, the last time that Akiyama won a fight, The Hangover had just been released to movie theaters across the globe, the world was just learning about swine flu, and no one had ever heard of Justin Bieber.

    Akiyama was scheduled to compete against Thiago Alves in the summer of 2012 but was forced out due to injury. He has not been booked since that time.