On social media, fan reaction to Jon Fitch’s release by the Ultimate Fighting Championship ranged from shock to outrage.
Those fans might want to brace themselves, because last week’s announcement that Fitch and 15 other fighters were let go by the UFC looks like only the tip of the iceberg.
“There’s 100 more guys that are gonna go. It’s not over,” UFC president Dana White said Thursday in Anaheim, Calif. “We have 475 guys under contract. We have over 100 guys too many on the roster right now.
“The blood has not all been spilled yet. There’s more coming.”
Those ominous words clearly cast a shadow over UFC 157 on Saturday night. Several fighters and their camps talked about the added pressure to win and avoid a pink slip.
The math is simple. The UFC puts on three 12-fight cards a month, meaning there is room for 72 fighters to compete each month and 288 slots over a four-month period. With the addition of the Strikeforce roster, plus the new flyweight division and a women’s division in recent months, the UFC has too many fighters under contract.
White pointed out that the organization often brings back fighters who were released after they win bouts with other organizations. But he also fired back at those who criticized the release of Fitch, a former welterweight contender who was 14-3-1 in the UFC, but only 1-2-1 in his last four fights.
Fitch, 35, was No. 9 among welterweights in last week’s UFC rankings, but the spot was left blank upon his release.
“This isn’t a case where Jon Fitch was ranked No. 9, No. 7, No. 6, No. 4, No. 2 and then we cut him,” White said. “He was ranked No. 1 — fought for the title, then he was ranked No. 2, 3, 6, 7 and now he’s 9. That’s called the downside of your career.”
White said he wouldn’t be surprised if Fitch goes to another organization, specifically mentioning Bellator, and wins the welterweight belt.
Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney indicated his organization is unlikely to sign Fitch. All indications are Fitch will sign with Las Vegas-based World Series of Fighting.
Also among the first wave of cuts were veteran Vladimir Matyushenko and Las Vegans Jay Hieron and Ulysses Gomez.
■ UFC EXPANDS TESTING — While in London last week for UFC on FX 7, White made a major announcement regarding the organization’s stance on testosterone replacement therapy users.
The number of fighters seeking therapeutic-use exemptions for TRT is growing, and White said he believes some are using it as a loophole to cheat.
“What I believe guys are doing is jacking up this stuff through the roof through their entire training camp, then getting back down to normal levels right before the fight, which is cheating,” White said. “I hate it, I don’t like it and I’m going to fight it. And if you are using TRT in the UFC, we’re going to start testing the (expletive) out of you for the entire camp.”
Chael Sonnen, who has competed under an exemption for TRT in his last several fights, said he already was tested by the UFC under the new policy.
Sonnen said the tests will show he is properly undergoing treatment and will weed out those that are abusing the rule.
■ ALDO-PETTIS IS ON — After a few days of drama over a potential snag, the featherweight title bout between Anthony Pettis and champion Jose Aldo is on for August, according to a tweet by White on Monday.
White shocked the assembled media in Anaheim when he said Aldo and his manager had informed him they did not want to fight Pettis. Apparently, those issues were put to rest.
Contact reporter Adam Hill at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-224-5509. Follow him on Twitter: @adamhilllvrj.