UFC trims its roster
The UFC has been cutting fighters right and left, starting with Fabricio Werdum and Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou, even polarizing lightweight Jorge Gurgel. The cuts have been going on for much of November and UFC president Dana White blames the lagging economy. The truth of the matter is the UFC had too many fighters under contract and many of these cuts (not Werdum, though) should make the sport stronger.
Gurgel, however, is an interesting case. Here’s a guy who is extremely proficient on the ground. His Brazilian jiu-jitsu is incredible and even his students excel on the ground (see Dustin Hazelett, winner of two consecutive “Submission of the Night” bonuses). Yet, when he’s in the Octagon, his ground game is non-existent -- he refuses to use it. He stands and trades punches the whole time instead, thinking it will make for a more exciting fight.
That’s what makes Gurgel an interesting case, because he is an exciting fighter. He’s 2-3 in his last five fights but twice during that run, he’s won Fight of the Night honors and a hefty bonus. White always used to tell his fighters, “If you go out there and put on a show, your job is safe.” I think that’s part of the reason Gurgel would rely strictly on stand-up. He’s someone who has lived that mantra to the fullest. It will be interesting to see if his cut has any deeper ramifications on that front.
As for his growth as a fighter, it’s probably a good move for Gurgel to be cut loose. He was quickly signed by Strikeforce and will be given a shot against Josh Thomson and Gilbert Melendez sooner rather than later. He will be a bigger fish in a smaller pond and we may get to see a whole new Gurgel in the process.
I was surprised to see Gurgel cut, especially since he really lives up to the “put on a good show” mantra, and because the heavyweight situation is pretty dire in the UFC, so it will be interesting to see how many more fighters are given the boot.
Still, the cuts should be good for the sport overall, because it will give the other organizations, like Strikeforce, more talent. The smaller promotions should be strengthened by this and that will be good for the sport. It makes more sense for younger and less experienced fighters to get some fights and interesting opportunities. It makes more sense than being held around by the UFC.