Opinion: Women and Latest Fighter Cuts Mark The Beginning of a New Era in UFC
By Jesse Heitz
For a while now, we’ve been able to take note of the UFC’s continuous work towards remaining the supreme MMA promotion. It has absorbed rival promotions, secured the best talent that the sport has to offer, and by-and-large has striven to provide the level of entertainment that we as fans thirst for. However, as I write these words, it is the eve of a new era for the UFC, an era of unbridled action.
Tomorrow, Saturday, February 23rd marks the debut of women’s MMA within the confines of the fabled Octagon, something sure to cause a stir and attract even more fans to the UFC’s already gaudy stable of proponents. Less than a year ago, UFC President, Dana White, was adamant about his reluctance to include women’s MMA in any UFC card.
Then came Ronda Rousey, and the boom in ratings for women’s MMA, and now we’re a mere day away from the UFC’s first ever women’s bout, a stunning transformation for the UFC in and of itself. Yet, this long awaited and much discussed evolution is far from the only thing that the UFC has up its sleeve when it comes to “livening” up its brand and solidifying itself as the ultimate destination for MMA.
This past Wednesday, the UFC released the names of 16 fighters that it had cut. This group of now unemployed fighters consisted of: Jon Fitch, Wagner Prado, Mike Russow, Jacob Volkmann, Vladimir Matyushenko, Che Mills, Jay Hieron, Terry Etim, Paul Sass, Jorge Santiago, Mike Stumpf, Simeon Thoresen, C.J. Keith, Motonobu Tezuka, Josh Grispi, and Ulysses Gomez.
This mass firing can only be interpreted in one way as a shot across the bow for other fighters and as a sign to fans that the UFC is dedicated to providing exciting fights. One would notice that the names listed above have two things in common, losses and a general impression of being fighters who embrace a style that is less than thrilling. Dana White when on to comment about the firings and the caliber of fighters subject to such firings in the UFC 157 pre-fight press conference, stating,
“We have 470-something guys under contract, okay? We have over 100 guys too many. We have over 100 guys too many on the roster right now, okay? So, what’s going to happen is, when you lose, listen the blood has not all been spilled yet, there’s more coming.”
“You better fight your fucking ass off, make it good and win. That’s the only way people want to see you. People want to see you when you’re exciting, you know? Unfortunate, sucks, it would be nice if you could just go lay on a guy for three rounds and people would love it and want to buy all your pay-per-views (PPV). Welcome to the fucking real world guys, that’s not how it works.”
For a while, the UFC had been in a bit of an excitement recession. It was dominated the often maligned lay-and-pray, or a simple lack of effort or enthusiasm. Even some of its champions were both publicly and privately accosted for their near flat lining performances. Apparently, the UFC brass has laid down the law, both with their adoption of women’s MMA, and the house cleaning of so-called “boring” fighters, that entertainment is again the top priority.