Unsurprisingly, given that the UFC is the biggest MMA promotion in the world and that fighters frequently lose their spots on the roster, the UFC is also a competitive industry.
Many well-known fighters have been dropped from the UFC roster over the years, but occasionally it seems that some athletes were dropped too soon.
By finding great success elsewhere, some of these fighters gave this thesis the proof it needed. Even though some of them didn’t, they could still have contributed to the great spectacle had they been kept around.
Here are five athletes whose elimination by the UFC seemed illogical.
#5. Saidyokub Kakhramonov – former UFC bantamweight contender
Former contender for the bantamweight division Saidyokub Kakhramonov is the most recent athlete who was unquestionably let go too soon from their UFC deal.
The Uzbek national entered the promotion in 2021 and made a big impression by winning his first two octagon matches. In contrast, Said Nurmagomedov successfully submitted him in the second round of his most recent battle.
But it was simple to picture Kakhramonov going far in the future given that Nurmagomedov is presently ranked as the bantamweight division’s #14 fighter and that the Uzbek fighter dominated the bout before being submitted.
Stunningly, it was announced this week that he has lost his UFC contract as a result of his defeat by Nurmagomedov.
Unsurprisingly, this call left fans and analysts around the world perplexed, even Kakhramonov himself.
He criticised the promotion on Twitter, saying it appeared as though they had only given him a chance to fail. He continued by saying that the only problem he had presented to the promotion’s matchmakers was that no one wanted to challenge him.
According to his talent levels, it’s possible that Kakhramonov will be signed by another company soon; in this scenario, the UFC’s loss is probably their gain.
#4. Todd Duffee – former UFC heavyweight contender
Todd Duffee startled everyone by finishing out Tim Hague in just seven seconds when he made his UFC debut back in the summer of 2009.
Duffee appeared to be a celebrity in the making with a perfect 6-0 record and a physique that resembled it had been cut from granite. It didn’t take the promotion long to book him once more.
Sadly, the prospect lost shockingly to Mike Russow in his second appearance in the octagon, despite controlling the fight up until the final seconds.
Duffee was scheduled for his third fight before being forced to withdraw due to a knee injury, showing that the defeat didn’t seem to deter him. Before he could make a comeback, it was abruptly reported that his contract had been terminated.
Fans were understandably confused by this, and Dana White was forced to address the issue in the media. He asserted that Duffee “made it seem to me that he doesn’t want to be in the UFC” and that Duffee has an attitude issue.
Surprisingly, between 2010 and 2012, Duffee only competed twice outside the promotion before making a comeback later that year. But in the years that have come, he has struggled mightily with injury issues.
It’s unclear how far he may have advanced had he continued with the promotion rather than being fired in 2010. He might have reached the top of the heavyweight class if he had been able to stay healthy.
White and company appeared hasty in eliminating such a fantastic talent for what seemed to be a trivial reason, even with the injury issues.
#3. Denis Kang – former UFC middleweight contender
Unsurprisingly, MMA fans all over the world started to become excited about the potential of the best stars from the Japanese company PRIDE entering the octagon when the UFC acquired PRIDE back in 2007.
Middleweight Denis Kang, who had gone 6-1 in PRIDE and came close to capturing a Grand Prix championship in 2006, was among the most well-known competitors at the time.
It took Kang a little longer to join the UFC because he first briefly competed for DREAM, but at the end of 2008, he signed a contract with the top organisation, thrilling fans in the process.
But when Kang finally made his long-awaited octagon debut, it was a dud since he was submitted by hot prospect Alan Belcher.
After that, the Canadian won over Xavier Foupa-Pokam before losing to Michael Bisping in a nail-biting two-round battle in which he briefly down “The Count.” Unsurprisingly, the fight earned both guys a bonus of $40,000.
Nevertheless, despite being a well-liked and promising middleweight contender, Kang’s contract was unexpectedly terminated following his defeat to Bisping.
It was unclear why the promotion made the decision to release such a talented fighter. Kang was not likely to challenge for the middleweight belt, but his PRIDE reputation would have made him an effective gatekeeper.
After quitting the promotion, the Canadian embarked on a three-fight winning streak, proving that Dana White and company were almost likely hasty in their decision.
#2. Jon Fitch – former UFC welterweight contender
Jon Fitch’s name frequently appears on lists of the greatest fighters who were never awarded UFC gold.
From 2005 through 2013, Fitch participated in the welterweight class. He won his first eight fights there and challenged Georges St-Pierre for the belt in 2008.
But it’s very likely that Fitch would have won the gold at some stage had “GSP” not been present.
The reality is that Dana White and the other influential figures in the company never agreed with the former NCAA Division I All-American wrestler.
He notably momentarily broke his contract in 2008 because to a dispute over the use of his image in the promotion’s video game, but he was quickly reinstated.
More importantly, his wrestling-centric approach in the cage and sombre demeanour afterwards didn’t lend themselves to him becoming a popular figure with casual fans.
Fitch’s contract was unexpectedly terminated again after his defeat to Demian Maia in February 2013, which was his second defeat in three fights.
The majority of fans were shocked by the choice. Not only was Fitch still a strong welterweight title candidate, but only four months prior to his release, he had also defeated hot prospect Erick Silva in a thrilling contest.
White, on the other hand, didn’t take much time to justify his choice. He merely said that Fitch was “very f*cking costly” to book and that he anticipated that before he could possibly get a return, he would accept a big contract somewhere else.
White’s forecast came true in part. After leaving the UFC, he made several semi-significant moves, first joining the PFL company and then Bellator MMA. However, despite being on a 7-2-1 winning streak, he never made it back to the main event.
Nevertheless, the fact that he was obviously very valuable and that White and the rest of the team should have kept him around implies that doing so would not have been a wise decision.
#1. Brandon Moreno – current UFC flyweight champion
It’s incredible that Brandon Moreno, who currently owns the UFC flyweight championship, was fired from the organisation less than four years ago after suffering two consecutive defeats.
Neither defeat was terrible or embarrassing, either. The Mexican lost both of his matches by unanimous decision, and both of them were to top-tier competitors in Sergio Pettis and Alexandre Pantoja.
So it made little to no sense to most onlookers to release “The Assassin Baby” from his contract.
Of course, cutting Moreno had somewhat of a hidden agenda in relation to the promotion. Although he hadn’t committed any wrongdoing specifically, it was claimed at the time that the flyweight class as a whole was being shut down, with a lot of competitors being discharged.
One of those contestants was undoubtedly Moreno, who would subsequently assert that he wasn’t originally aware that he had been dropped.
After winning a fight on the regional circuit, “The Assassin Baby” was reintroduced to the main event in late 2019 when it became obvious that the flyweight class was still going strong.
He hasn’t looked back since, triumphing in six of his last nine fights and twice won the flyweight championship in his four-fight feud with Deiveson.
It’s easy to conclude that the UFC’s choice to release Moreno was illogical given the success he has enjoyed since his comeback. They need to be grateful that they were able to bring him home before he had a chance to realise his potential elsewhere.