UFC Lightweights: Fight For Their Lives In 2011
With the recent UFC/WEC merger, the UFC Lightweight Division is stacked with talent
Following the UFC/WEC merger, 2011 could be an annus horribilis for some of the lightweight fighters in the UFC.
With a stacked division, bursting with serious talent from top to bottom, the UFC Lightweight Division could be the division for fight fans to keep their eyes on next year as fighters know realize that a loss could lead to their dismissal from the organization.
Already one of the most exciting divisions in the company, the Lightweight Division usually produces exciting fights, worthy of the fans interest.
Fighters were already slugging it out for their futures in every weight class before the merger, but now, with an influx of personnel on the Zuffa roster, the value of a win is going to be increasingly important at 155lbs.
As competition increases for places in the division, fights could go one of two ways. They will either be all out wars, guaranteeing fighters a place in the organization or combatants will cautiously battle it out for the win in order to secure their status as winners are almost guaranteed to stay with the company. However, the annus horribilis could extend to the upper weight classes too, creating scenarios where a 155lber could end the UFC career of a middleweight or heavyweight. If the UFC can only house a certain number of fighters and the Lightweights keep exciting, then cuts will be made elsewhere, such as in the higher weight classes.
As we have seen recently, it's not just lightweights who are under pressure as the roster purging from the UFC has upped the ante over the last two months.
Seth Petruzelli received his marching orders following his loss at UFC 122, joining the likes of Goran Reljic and Peter Sobotta on the list of fighters who were handed their pink slips.
Brit Nick Osipczak was also cut from the organization as it looks to cut down on its talent list. The Welterweight had a 5-3 record prior to his release. The cuts continued to come thick and fast.
Welterweight Karo Parisyan, who was granted a second chance after letting the UFC down badly in the past, got one more opportunity, a shot at redemption on the undercard at UFC 123.
Not many people are beneficiaries of a new lease of life in the UFC after crossing Dana White and that is exactly what Parisyan did when he pulled out of his UFC 106 bout with Dustin Hazelett a day before the weigh-ins. White banished him, for good, so we thought.
However, Parisyan amazingly was reinstated to the company. But that's where his luck ran out because at UFC 123, he was on the wrong end of a TKO from Dennis Hallman after just 107 seconds in the first round. There was further bad news for him later on as Parisyan was again let go by the UFC.
The cutting did not stop there as Gerald Harris was cut, despite the fact that he lost for the first time in the UFC when he fought Maiquel Falcao and lost following a unanimous decision on the main card at UFC 123. Reports are also circulating that Matt Brown has been released after Brian Foster choked him out at the Palace at Auburn Hills, something that is still waiting clarification.
Cuts and releases are generally not surprising following a PPV, but these days the UFC's roster downsizing is headline news, especially when it happens to the likes of Harris, who suffered his only loss in the organization. Prior to that fight, he was on the crest of a wave as the company were pushing him. Appearing on the main card with a video promo highlighting his knockout power, Harris looked like a bankable asset. But his dissatisfactory performance against Falcao was enough to bring the curtain down on his UFC career for now.
This is the UFC landscape post-merger. Patience is not a virtue anymore. Boos drive fans away. Lackluster performances will put your job in jeopardy, with a waiting list of fighters readily available to take your place.
In the past week, White's words have become famous when he said: “"Listen, these are the big leagues, no different than Major League Baseball, no different than the NFL. You perform or you go away.
“This isn't the f------ Ultimate Staring Competition, it's the Ultimate Fighting Championship.”
That is the world in which the UFC operates now. Perhaps we will find out more about the UFC's plans for the 155lbs division at UFC 124 when Dustin Hazelett and Mark Bocek clash. Also on the card, Joe Stevenson and Mac Danzig go head-to-head. If the losers in both matches are released, or if one is released for a disappointing showing, then this could signal the UFC's intentions for fighters at 155lbs in the future. Stevenson is 2-2 in his last four fights. Danzig is 1-4 in his last five, so both are at risk of receiving the dreaded pink slip. Hazelett is on a two fight losing streak, whereas Boeck is 1-1. All are at risk here.
Of course, as the history books show, it is not just 155lb fighters that are under pressure, but it seems they are under more pressure now due to to the WEC roster amalgamating with the UFC's current crop. Fighters, cruelly, will now have to perform under severe pressure, knowing that a few jeers inside the Octagon could premeditate their release.
In 2011, fighters will not only be fighting for the glory, but they will be fighting for their careers every time they step into the cage. Post-merger the WEC merger will truly put the 'fighting' back into the Ultimate Fighting Championships.