The UFC has made huge strides over the last few years and their quest for continued global expansion led to them signing fighters by the dozens, most of whom nobody has ever heard of. But with a staggering roster of over 500 fighters and the UFC trying to expand to more new locations, they likely had to make room to add more local and upcoming talent.
A reported 50 fighters are set to be given their pink slips and already 17 fighters have confirmed their release from the organization. The UFC’s loss is the gain of other smaller promotions who will definitely be scooping up most of the exiled talent. Here’s a look at where some of the more prominent cuts may be heading and why they fit:
Marcus Brimage (Bantamweight/Featherweight)
“The Bama Beast” started his UFC career as a featherweight in The Ultimate Fighter where he got submitted by Bryan Caraway. He still got signed and won his first three bouts including one over previously unbeaten Jimy Hettes. He then became Conor McGregor’s first casualty and dropped down to bantamweight but still lost four of his last five, three by knockout. Regardless of his record, Brimage brings an entertaining “sprawl and brawl” style that fits right into Bellator MMA’s MO for either division.
Prediction: Brimage signs with Bellator MMA
T.J. Waldburger (Welterweight)
First goal is to heal up and get back to training. My family is relocating to the Dallas area to be with my brother who is battling cancer.
— TJ Waldburger (@TJWaldburger) October 19, 2015
Waldburger spent five years with the UFC and went 4-4. He however had lost his last two, both by knockout and was injured often. He was last scheduled to fight Wendell “The Machine” Oliveira but pulled out twice, one on the day of the weigh-ins after he fainted while cutting weight. The Texas-native is a BJJ black belt and has 13 of his 16 wins coming via submission. He recently tweeted he will be moving back to Dallas. Legacy, which is based in Houston could be Waldburger’s next fighting destination.
Prediction: Waldburger signs with Legacy Fighting Championships
Eddie Gordon (Middleweight/Welterweight)
Gordon won The Ultimate Fighter with a scintillating knockout of Dhiego Lima and looked to be on his way to a promising UFC career. He was winning against Josh Samman until he got caught by a vicious head kick. He never recovered from the loss as he would lose a close decision to Chris Dempsey and get submitted by Antonio Carlos Junior. Training under the prestigious Serra-Longo Fight Team, there were reports Gordon was dropping down to welterweight. Regardless of what division he fights in, he could be headed back to New Jersey’s Ring of Combat, where he was a former champion. CFFC is an alternative option.
Prediction: Gordon signs with Ring of Combat or Cage Fury Fighting Championships
Christos Giagos (Lightweight)
At only 25 and being a great athlete, Giagos is still very much a great MMA prospect. Unfortunately, he faced a steep climb in the UFC fighting BJJ phenom Gilbert “Durinho” Burns in his debut and losing to Chris Wade in his last UFC fight going 1-2 in the company. Giagos is a versatile fighter who has a propensity for highlight reel finishes and that perfectly fits him into Bellator, where its lightweight division is starving for new promising talent. An alternative is TPF, a local promotion he previously competed in.
Prediction: Bellator MMA or Tachi Palace Fights (TPF)
Ramsey Nijem (Lightweight)
Nijem was the runner-up to The Ultimate Fighter: Team Lesnar vs Team Dos Santos, losing to current lightweight title contender Tony Ferguson by knockout. He rebounded by winning three consecutive but lost four of his last six with his final UFC bout being a very controversial decision to newcomer, Andrew Holbrook. Nijem is a former NCAA Division I wrestler who has a reckless striking style and he trains under the Pit Elevation Fight Team based in Colorado. Titan FC just happens to be next door in Missouri and could be looking for new lightweight contenders after the recent retirement of champion, Rick Hawn.
Prediction: Nijem signs with Titan Fighting Championship