Disclaimer: This information is all based on updates to the UFC.com lists of active fighters. Profiles will very likely still exist for each fighter as the UFC retains a database of all former competitors, but these fighters no longer appear on the UFC roster lists themselves. It often takes a day or so for roster changes to become apparent, so some fighters may still remain listed for the short term. All information in this post is gained through UFCFIGHTERSiNFO, a twitter account that uses a ruby script to check the UFC's website for changes.
It appears that another four fighters may be out of the worlds largest MMA promotion. Most particularly, it appears that the UFC is making room in it's bantamweight division with the removal of three 135 lb fighters from their lists of active rosters. Edwin Figueroa, Junior Hernandez, and Shunichi Shimizu will all apparently be looking to book their next fight outside of the UFC.
[Deleted] Shunichi Shimizu (Bantam) [Deleted] Brian Houston (Middle) [Deleted] Edwin Figueroa (Bantam) http://t.co/GeU9kLzLL9— UFCFIGHTERSiNFO (@UFCFIGHTERSiNFO) March 28, 2014
[Deleted] Junior Hernandez (Bantam) http://t.co/GeU9kLzLL9— UFCFIGHTERSiNFO (@UFCFIGHTERSiNFO) March 28, 2014
Shimizu is the big surprise here, as he only had one fight under Zuffa, a disappointing performance against Kyung Ho Kang at UFC Fight Night 34. He failed to impress, and got pretty well dusted by Kang, losing by submission in the third round, but it's rare to see a UFC fighter out the door so fast, especially considering some of the fighters still getting chances in the promotion. If Shimizu can get a win or two outside Zuffa's doors, I could easily see them bringing him back for a future Asia card.
Otherwise, I'm not terribly shocked by the release of Hernandez or Figueroa. In his six UFC fights Figueroa is 2-4 and currently on a 3 fight losing streak. His losses have come against strong competition, but he was pretty thoroughly dominated by Erik Perez last time out. Figueroa doesn't have much experience under his belt, so I could see him making his way back to the UFC, but I think he'd need a pretty decent win streak to get there. And for Hernandez, the Miletich Fighting Systems product was pretty notable as one of the few representatives of the old school camp to make it to the UFC. Unfortunately he got pasted by Lucas Martins in his debut, and while he saw a decision against Hugo Viana, the fight largely consisted of Viana pot shotting Hernandez for two rounds until he got tired, leading to a competitive third. Like Figueroa I could see him returning, but I think he'd need a solid win streak to do it.
The other fighter who appears to have been released is middleweight Brian Houston. Houston, signed after only his 4th pro fight was far too green for the level of competition he faced in the UFC. After losses to Derek Brunson and Trevor Smith it only makes sense that he go back to the regional scene to get more experience. If he does well there I could see the UFC being quick on the trigger in giving him a second shot.
I still doubt that this is the last we've seen of the UFC's roster trimming efforts in the immediate future, so check back for more news. And we'll be sure to update this article with conformation from any of the fighters if possible.
Update: Bloody Elbow has spoken to Shunichi Shimizu and learned that he was only under contract with the UFC for one fight and that that contract has not been renewed.