5 fighters UFC should hire from other promotions (& 5 fighters it should let go of)

Which new faces could soon join the UFC?
Which new faces could soon join the UFC?
Ivan Derrick

The UFC is undisputedly the worldwide leader when it comes to MMA organizations. Given that, they are always looking to add the best talent from around the world. At the same time, they cannot afford to hang on to fighters who are not competing at the highest level in the sport.

Here are five fighters the UFC should hire from other promotions and five fighters they should let go of:

#5. Should hire: Danny Sabatello (Bellator)

2022 has been a breakout year for the outspoken Danny Sabatello. 'The Italian Gangster' entered Bellator’s bantamweight grand prix as a late replacement and has been turning heads ever since. While his grappling heavy offense isn’t always the most entertaining, there are few better than him on the mic.

Danny Sabatello has absolutely taken it to Jornel Lugo after two rounds. Lugo needs a finish. #Bellator278

Having reached the semi-finals, he will now fight Raufeon Stotts for a spot in the final of Bellator’s bantamweight grand prix. Beyond that, a potential fight with Sergio Pettis could be on the cards. While it’s too soon to tell, Sabatello could be a massive star and the UFC would be smart to sign him whenever possible.

#5. Should let go: Raphael Assunção (UFC)

Raphael Assunção has a record of 27-9
Raphael Assunção has a record of 27-9

While Raphael Assunção has given so much to the UFC that you could argue he deserves to leave the organization on his own terms, he might be better off departing now. Assunção has now lost four in a row, including some nasty finishes like the one he suffered against Cody Garbrandt.

Assuncao is now 40 and no longer seems to be competing at the highest level, so it could be the right decision to end his UFC career rather than allowing him to take more damage. This would not be coming from any place of disrespect towards a legend —it's just necessary to protect his health above all else.

#4. Should hire: Michael ‘Venom’ Page (Bellator)

Michael 'Venom' Page has a record of 20-2
Michael 'Venom' Page has a record of 20-2

Michael ‘Venom’ Page has been one of the most popular fighters outside of the UFC for several years now. While he appears to be content competing in Bellator, he is now in a difficult position in their 170 pound division, having lost his interim title fight to Logan Storley back in May.

With that in mind, perhaps now would be a good time for him to join the top promotion in MMA, create some fresh match-ups for himself, and breathe new life into his career. His entertaining fighting style would bring plenty of eyes to his bouts, so the UFC would also benefit significantly from this potential move.

#4. Should let go: Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua (UFC)

Dana White called for Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua to retire prior to his most recent performance against Ovince St. Preux. He lost that fight and has not looked like his former self in his last two performances. While he stated his intention to finish out his contract, that may not be the best idea.

UFC President Dana White thinks ‘Shogun’ Rua should retire after UFC 255 loss to Paul Craig.

Instead, preventing Rua from doing so could protect both his legacy and his health. Rua was once one of the most dominant competitors in MMA and is clearly no longer competing anywhere near that level anymore. Instead of giving him one more fight for the sake of nostalgia, it may be time to call it a career.

#3. Should hire: Demetrious Johnson (ONE)

To this day, Demetrious Johnson is considered the greatest flyweight in UFC history. While he is currently competing in ONE Championship and has stated his intention to retire in that organization, it would be incredible to see him back inside the octagon.

Jan26.2013Demetrious Johnson makes the first defense of his UFC Flyweight title,when he defeats John Dodson in a bout that earned fight of the night honors

Things haven't necessarily gone Johnson's way in ONE Championship, but he has also proven he remains one of the best flyweights on the planet. There are a ton of new, exciting matchups for him in the UFC, whether it be against flyweights or bantamweights, which may currently be the best division in the sport.

#3. Should let go: Robbie Lawler (UFC)

Robbie Lawler has a record of 29-16 (1 NC)
Robbie Lawler has a record of 29-16 (1 NC)

Former UFC middleweight champion Robbie Lawler is another fighter who may need to be protected from himself at this stage of his career. He defeated Nick Diaz not too long ago, but there were several questions regarding Diaz’s level at that point. Lawler has lost five of his last six.

He’s also taken a ridiculous amount of damage over the course of his career, whether it be in his iconic title defense against Rory Macdonald or his more recent loss to Bryan Barberena. Instead of giving Lawler further match-ups, it could be smart to put a stop to his incredibly impressive career.

#2. Should hire: AJ McKee (Bellator)

AJ McKee may have suffered his first career loss recently, but that was via a highly controversial decision. At just 27 years old, McKee is still very young and has flashed his ridiculous potential during his time in Bellator, establishing him as one of the hottest prospects in the sport.

AJ McKee wins $1 million by destroying Patricio “Pitbull” Freire #bellator263

McKee could be a real threat at both featherweight and lightweight for many years to come, and he's a very marketable fighter both in and out of the octagon. He’s been open about his interest in the UFC, so Dana White would be smart to pay whatever is necessary to secure the talents of ‘The Mercenary’.

#2. Should let go: Nick Diaz (UFC)

Nick Diaz has a record of 26-10 (2 NC)
Nick Diaz has a record of 26-10 (2 NC)

While another Nick Diaz fight would produce huge numbers for the UFC, it may not necessarily be the best idea. Diaz did have his moments in his return fight against Robbie Lawler, but given Lawler’s results before and after that fight, that performance has not aged particularly well.

The treatment of the elder Diaz brother has been incredibly unfair over the course of his career, but at this point, it may not be wise to start offering him more fights. As good as he was in his prime, it’s tough to imagine him performing like that today. Protecting his health and legacy may be the more ethical choice.

#1. Should hire: Kayla Harrison (PFL)

Prior to Kayla Harrison re-signing with the PFL, it seemed as though there was a good chance she might take her talents to the UFC. Ultimately, that did not happen, but perhaps it could in the future. Harrison appears to be a generational talent, and it would be great to see her compete against the best in her weight class.

It’s likely that Kayla Harrison is on her way to the UFC. It’s hard to imagine that they would put a free agent on a broadcast unless there’s something in the works.

With that being said, the UFC’s featherweight division is not particularly strong at this point in time. The champion, Amanda Nunes, is seeking to re-gain her bantamweight title, and there are virtually no other names of note at 145 pounds. If the UFC is keen to rebuild this division, signing Kayla Harrison is a must.

#1. Should let go: Nate Diaz (UFC)

Nate Diaz has a record of 20-13
Nate Diaz has a record of 20-13

Nate Diaz consistently competed against some of the best fighters in the sport at one point in time. While the results have not been great recently, he still seems capable of competing at a UFC-worthy level. However, he has been incredibly clear that he wants out of the company, and that wish should be granted.

While the UFC booked Diaz against Khamzat Chimaev in the last fight of the former's current contract, things shouldn't have gotten to this point. Diaz has given fans many great moments during his lengthy run in the UFC, and he should be rewarded with the ability to decide his future.

As soon as he expressed his desire to leave and asserted that no amount of money could keep him in the UFC, it should have been the end of the Nate Diaz-UFC story.

Edited by kennedyking2016


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