The UFC had a massive purge of over 32 names from its roster last week. That list included recently retired fighters like Tim Kennedy and Aisling Daly and other fighters that have either fought out their contracts or were outright released like Erik Perez, Lorenz Larkin, Rick Story, and Takeya Mizugaki, among others.
Yesterday, three more highly ranked names were announced as being up for grabs in the free agent market.
FloCombat first reported that Kyoji Horiguchi, a top five flyweight and recent title contender, has officially gone into free agency after fighting out his contract and not accepting the UFC’s initial offer to re-sign him.
MMA Junkie then reported that Nikita Krylov, who has consistently been a top 10 to top 15 light heavyweight and winner of five out his last six fights, was released from the company. Both Bloody Elbow’s Karim Zidan and MMA Fighting’s Ariel Helwani have taken to Twitter to clarify that Krylov, like Horiguchi, also opted not to accept the UFC’s offer after fighting out his contract.
Nikita Krylov told Russian media that he opted not to re-sign with the UFC after fulfilling current deal. Seems he wasn’t impressed w/ offer
— Karim Zidan (@ZidanSports) February 18, 2017
Confirmed to be true, as well. UFC did offer him a new deal but the terms + wanting to get more experience elsewhere led to his departure. https://t.co/xjHA6nTMrs
— Ariel Helwani (@arielhelwani) February 18, 2017
Late last night, top ten strawweight and recent title contender, Valerie Letourneau took to her Instagram page to announce that she is also a free agent. Although the circumstances around her new-found free agency are not clear, the tone of her message seems to indicate that she was released from her UFC contract.
View this post on Instagram
Well! Thank you UFC it's been an awesome experience and many dreams come true. Time for me to look at what's next inside and outside the cage. New chapter starting right now ☝🏼👊🏼!! #UFC #determination #dedication #passion #love #sport #mma #thankyou #ByeByeBoss •••• And don't feel sorry for me! For those who know me for years, you all know and I know that every time I thought the worse was happening, it was to take me to something 10 times better and I feel that this is what's happening. This is best for my health and future. I am good, I am happy, I still love my sport and I still gonna fight if my fans, sponsors and promotion have my back. And if not! I'm still gonna be fine 🙏🏼❤!
It seems that among all other cost-cutting measures, this new WME-IMG led version of the UFC is now employing a strategy of letting most talents go into free agency and see what their real worth is out on the free market. Whereas fighters would be approached for contract renegotiations with one or two fights left on their deal, it is clear that now, unless they have an enormously high name value, most fighters will have to fight out their contracts, regardless of ranking.
UFC contracts, like many in the MMA industry, have an exclusive negotiating period and then a matching clause. This allows the promotion to get the first opportunity to offer the fighters a new deal, if the deal is not accepted during this period, a fighter is then free to field offers from other promotions. However the matching clause allows the UFC the ultimate verdict of either matching those offers and keeping the fighter in the UFC or declining to match and allowing the fighter to leave.
All three fighters – Krylov, Letourneau, and Horiguchi – have already been removed from the UFC’s official rankings.
This article comes to you via @GavelPro
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