Earlier today, UFC veteran and former title challenger Jake Shields was released by the promotion. The release came as a shock to most MMA fans and pundits due to the fact that Shields 3-1 with 1 no contest in his last five fights.
Shields is currently ranked at #11 in the UFC Welterweight rankings, but holds UFC victories over higher ranked fighters such as Demian Maia and Tyron Woodley. Outside of the UFC, Shields holds victories over Carlos Condit, Dan Henderson, and Robbie Lawler.
The obvious answer to Shields’ release is that he was considered to be boring by many MMA fans. The fact is that Shields does not sell pay per views, and he is not a fighter most fans get excited over. It is part of the reason that Yushin Okami and Jon Fitch were both cut last year as well.
With that being said, today I look at three fighters who may be next on the UFC’s chopping block.
3. Francis Carmont
Francis Carmont joined the UFC back in 2011 by defeating TUF alumnus, Chris Camozzi by unanimous decision. Carmont then went on to win five consecutive fights in the UFC before losing to Jacare Souza back in February.
Carmont seemingly fits the description when it comes to high level fighters getting cut. Most MMA fans and pundits dislike Carmont’s grinding style, labeling him as ‘boring’. To make matters worse for Carmont, he was gifted two decision victories over mid-tier Middleweights (Tom Lawlor and Lorenz Larkin) in fights he was far from impressive in.
Carmont is currently ranked 9th in the UFC’s Middleweight division, but has never beaten anyone ranked higher than him. The only two fighters he has faced in the top-10 were Costa Philippou (#10) and Jacare Souza (#4). The fight against Philippou was absolutely dreadful, where Carmont was content to lay on top of Costa for three rounds. As already mentioned, Jacare defeated Carmont handily in their bout this past February.
Carmont is scheduled to face off against unranked CB Dollaway at UFC Fight Night 41. If Carmont loses that fight, he may be out of his job in the UFC.
2. Demian Maia
Back in 2007, then undefeated jiu-jitsu ace Demian Maia made his UFC debut against Ryan Jensen, submitting Jensen in the first round. Maia has gone on to garner a 12-6 record in the UFC while having a solid fan base. Of his 12 victories inside the Octagon, 7 have come by way of finish.
That finish statistic seems pretty good, but when examined in-depth it is not all that impressive. One of Maia’s finishes came due to an injury to Dong Hyun Kim within a minute of their bout back in 2012. Five of the other 6 finishes came in his first five bouts in the UFC from 2007-2009.
Since defeating Chael Sonnen by triangle at UFC 95, Maia has gone 7-6 with 5 decisions. While Maia is rarely considered a ‘boring’ fighter, he is certainly not the finishing machine we all thought he would be after winning five straight by submission.
After winning three straight in 2012-2013, Maia has dropped two consecutive fights to Jake Shields and Rory MacDonald. Considering that Shields was cut today, it certainly does not spell great things for Maia’s future.
Maia faces off against Mike Pierce at the TUF Brazil 3 Finale in May. If the Brazilian can not get a win in front of his home crowd, he may get cut by the UFC.
1. Clay Guida
What a fall from grace Clay Guida has had. Only three years ago, Guida defeated former WEC and current UFC Lightweight champion, Anthony Pettis. That win dashed the hopes of Pettis who chose to fight Guida instead of waiting for his UFC title shot he earned in his WEC victory over Benson Henderson.
Guida joined the UFC back in 2006, where he submitted Justin James by rear-naked choke in the second round. Over the next several years, Guida went through impressive runs and bad losing streaks. Guida had a three fight winning streak in 2008-2009, but then lost two straight. Guida then went on his most impressive run, winning four fights in a row including three submissions.
Since then, Guida has gone 1-3 in his last four. He has also seen a drastic change in styles. Guida was once a can’t miss action fighter who has seemingly turned into a point-machine. His fight with Gray Maynard is considered to be one of the worst fights, let alone main events, in UFC history.
If Clay Guida does not perform this weekend against Tatsuya Kawajiri, it is a possibility that he will return to the US without a job in the UFC.