A trio of former UFC champions are among the famous fighters that are likely to be cut by the UFC in 2021.
In December of 2020, the mixed martial arts community was stunned by the sudden release of former UFC middleweight title challenger Yoel Romero. The 43-year old Romero had lost three straight and four of his last five fights. Still, Romero was seen as a fan favorite, and the release came as a surprise to many.
According to UFC president Dana White, Romero was just the first of up to 60 fighters to be cut from the UFC's inflated roster. Soon after, another notable name was cut in the form of The Ultimate Fighter veteran and women's flyweight fighter Rachael Ostovich. Ostovich had a pretty rough run in the UFC, going just 1-3 in four octagon appearances. December also saw the likes of Cole Smith, Gadzhimurad Antigulov, Luiz Eduardo Garagorri, Mark De La Rosa, and Saparbek Safarov get cut from the UFC.
As the UFC enters a new year, it's likely that even more fighters - including very popular ones - also get the axe.
Former champions that could get cut from the UFC in 2021
Yoel Romero getting cut from the UFC was hard proof that popularity does not equal job security. While Romero was indeed one of the more popular middleweights on the roster, he was on a three-fight losing skid.
With the UFC looking to cut down on an inflated roster, here are three former champions that could be on their way out in 2021:
Former UFC champion Tyron Woodley was at one point being mentioned as the best welterweight champion in UFC history. Woodley defeated Robbie Lawler for the title in 2016 and retained it four times, against the likes of Stephen Thompson (twice), Demian Maia, and Darren Till.
After dropping the title to Kamaru Usman however, Woodley has yet to bounce back. After losing to Usman, Woodley lost twice more, to Gilbert Burns and Colby Covington. If Woodley tastes defeat once more in 2021, he will likely be handed his walking papers.
From one former welterweight champion to another, Robbie Lawler could also be on the UFC's chopping block.
Lawler's second run in the UFC saw him enjoy a career resurgence of sorts. Lawler would eventually capture the UFC welterweight championship in 2014, and successfully defend it against Rory MacDonald and Carlos Condit.
He would drop the title to Tyron Woodley in 2016. Since then, Lawler has won just once and lost his last four bouts. If Lawler loses his fifth straight fight in 2021, he likely bids goodbye to the UFC.
Junior Dos Santos
Once upon a time, Junior Dos Santos was the most feared of heavyweights. JDS had insane knockout power, and that led to a stunning KO win over Cain Velasquez to become the UFC heavyweight champion in 2011.
Dos Santos would defend the title just once before losing it back to Velasquez the following year. He would face Velasquez in a trilogy bout, and lose again, this time by TKO.
Dos Santos would continue to be a contender in the succeeding years, beating the likes of Stipe Miocic, Ben Rothwell, and Derrick Lewis. In his last four bouts however, JDS has gone 0-4, with all those losses coming by way of TKO. One more defeat could likely spell the end of Dos Santos' run with the UFC.Published 05 Jan 2021, 15:35 IST