UFC President Dana White Explains Decision to Cut Yushin Okami

October 1, 2013
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Dana White UFC 144On Sept. 27, the Ultimate Fighting Championship announced it had released top-ten ranked middleweight Yushin Okami following a technical knockout loss to Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza.  The decision was met with mixed emotions and the question why?

UFC president Dana White explained the decision to media members on Monday following the UFC World Tour: Weidman vs. Silva 2 press conference in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

“You have to look at a guy, right?  And I’ve said many times that I have nothing but respect for Yushin Okami.  He’s one of the best Japanese fighters ever, but a guy gets to the point where he becomes the gatekeeper,” said White.  “It’s time for Yushin Okami to go out and test himself outside of the UFC, get some wins and maybe come back.”

Okami isn’t the first top-ten ranked fighter released by the UFC.  Jon Fitch was released from the organization in February following a unanimous decision loss to Demian Maia.

There are similarities in the Fitch and Okami cuts.  They both were perennial top ten fighters.  They both competed in title fights and lost.  But there are also big differences.  Fitch had gone 1-2-1 in his last four fights prior to his release.  Okami was on a three-fight winning streak before losing to Souza.

When the announcement was made that Okami was no longer a UFC fighter, White tweeted that part of the decision was that, “Our roster is packed.”

“It’s time for some other guys to fight in that division.  Yushin Okami has had every opportunity in the world, taking on the best.  He even got a title shot and didn’t win.  It is what it is,” White reiterated on Monday.

“It’s no different than the NFL, soccer or any other sport.  There comes a time when a team moves on and does other things no matter where the guy ranks,” added the UFC president.

Some speculated that Okami’s pay may have factored into the promotion’s decision to cut him, but White said the Japanese fighter’s pay had no bearing on his release.

“I don’t know what we paid Yushin.  It had nothing to do with his numbers, what he was being paid,” he said.

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  • Griff

    Frank Mir next please.

    • Chris Morgan

      While that’s not a bad idea, I doubt that Mir will be released in the immediate future due to the lack of depth in the Heavyweight division (I think there’s only 30 heavyweights in the UFC).

      • TheCerealKiller

        31 and 4 or 5 of them don’t have a fight in the UFC yet. How much is Franik getting per fight?

      • Griff

        If being the “gate keeper” is criteria for a release Mir is well past that point now.

        • Chris Morgan

          That’s really the problem. There isn’t really a “true” criteria for cutting fighters these days. That’s why I’ve taken a “believe it when I see it” approach with UFC releases.

      • Ping

        Pretty sure MMAweekly released an article stating that the loser of Mir vs Overreem will probably be let go.

  • qipap

    + Brandon Vera

  • Bugster

    Belcher really needs to go, stupid betting youtube videos, calling out Anderson, just all sorts of talk but nothing ever to back it up. Losing to Bisping in a non competitive stand up fight is nuts. Needs to go.

    • Jerm137

      Belcher always brings it and if you didn’t enjoy the hell out of his fight with Palhares you must really hate him. He looked lost in the Bisping fight. I was waiting for days after the fight for word to come that he had been injured before the fight because it was so out of character for him. Never heard a word about it which might mean Bisping is really good with his timing and threw Alan off his game or…………help me out, give me something, I don’t want to give Bisping credit for anything!

  • Until recently Frank Mir has never lost two fights in a row so I don’t know what some people are talking about. The guy lost to JDS who beats up everybody and then Cormier in just a horrible fight then to a Barnett who happens to be a very tough veteran of the sport. So Dana/UFC is the bad guy for letting guys go, then their the good guy for keeping guys around (Dan Hardy/Phil Baroni). At the end of the day this is business, and when your on good terms with your boss and have history sometimes you get the leverage but sometimes there’s much more talent around and it’s a tough world to compete in. Let’s be realistic here. Btw I do appreciate anyone sticking up for Yushin because it does show some support for fans but let’s not bad mouth the UFC and Dana either.

    • Mark McDowall

      Its another case of John Fitch syndrome. He gets paid a bunch of money and his fights weren’t that exciting. Dana wont ever come out and say “were paying this guy a butt load and he isn’t drawing crowds”. Okami was a good figther…but lets be real how many PPV’s has anyone ordered because of an Okami fight?

      • Jerm137

        I agree. I think its a $$ issue as with Fitch, and Dana said as much about Fitch. And I don’t want to see Mir go, but I don’t see him having more than a 20% chance at beating Roidereem, but I didn’t see him beating Big Nog either the first time.

      • That is true. Okami is a tough guy and he earned big exposure in the rematch with SIlva but he doesn’t bring in big numbers.

  • joeybrizzle

    ufc is inconsistant

  • Timothy Malone

    I was opposed to the decision before, but this just makes it ten times more stupid. If it was about money as everyone said then ok that’s somewhat understandable. But he says it isn’t and makes himself sound like an idiot with how many exceptions to his own criteria there have been.

    • Ping

      Real idiot. He’s making millions of dollars because he’s so stupid. What about you?

      • Timothy Malone

        Are you arguing that people with lots of money are incapable of making stupid decisions? I’m pretty sure I could come up with about a thousand examples proving you wrong.

  • Ping

    Why are people complaining so much? First people complain that the UFC has taken away competition like Pride, WEC ect… Then people complain that good fighters are being let go that gives companies like Bellator a chance to pick up good talent creating better mma competition. I guess people just need an excuse to bitch about Dana White

  • Kbroesq

    Why isn’t there room in the UFC for “gatekeepers?” And it’s not as if these guys are intending to be gatekeepers; they’re trying to win fights, and because of their ups and downs, they become gatekeepers involuntarily.

    If the UFC roster is only going to be filled with the guys who are screaming up the ladder for title shots, then the roster is going to end up being pretty thin.

    Perhaps White thinks this policy will light a fire under the fighters and they will come back and fight even better.