Season 8 Ultimate Fighter lightweight winner Efrain Escudero was cut from the UFC on Monday, on the heels of a submission loss to Charles Oliveira at UFN 22 five days prior. Escudero becomes the second TUF winner to be released from the promotion, behind Season 4 middleweight winner Travis Lutter.
Escudero (13-2, 3-2 UFC) came in to the fight with Oliveira at 159 pounds, three pounds over the limit for lightweight non-title fights. He didn't look overly impressive, getting picked apart by Oliveira's kicks on the feet, but was able to score some decent ground-and-pound at the end of round one and avoid Oliveira's submissions for most of the fight. The fight marked the second time in three fights that Escudero had been submitted in the third round, the other being his loss to Evan Dunham at UFN 20 in January.
Everyone has their off nights, but I find this cut of Escudero to be a bit puzzling. He had only lost to undefeated fighters, and the UFC has a history of keeping guys from the Ultimate Fighter around as long as they've had moderate success- for example, Stephan Bonnar is 6-6 in his UFC career, and Keith Jardine was 6-7 before being cut this summer. Perhaps Dana White is trying to crackdown on some of the nonsense, like hamming it up during the fight or coming in unreasonably over weight.
More realistically, it's quite possible that the UFC intended this cut as a wake-up call for Efrain. If he can get his act together as far as his weight is concerned and pick up a few wins in smaller organizations, there is little doubt in my mind that he could be invited back to the UFC- also my theory for recent cut Todd Duffee.
The UFC lightweight division isn't any worse for the wear with Escudero's departure, but I still believe the Ultimate Figher winner got a rough deal. Hopefully he'll straighten things out and we'll see him back in the Octagon by next summer.
-Ben Anderson-Smith, contributor