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UFC says they’ve released heavyweight Justin Willis, but Willis says ‘it’s a big miscommunciation’

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Heavyweight Justin Willis has been released by the UFC... or has he?

MMA: UFC Fight Night-Adelaide-Hunt vs Willis James Elsby-USA TODAY Sports

UFC heavyweight Justin “Big Pretty” Willis has been released from his contract.

Aaron Bronsteter of TSN first reported the news on Friday, citing a company official. Willis disappeared from the UFC rankings earlier this month, which raised alarm bells over his future. It now seems he is a free agent and will be able to fight elsewhere.

However, Willis told MMAjunkie that he’s not been released, and that this is apparently all a misunderstanding.

“It was a big miscommunication and a technical difficulty between me and the UFC,” Willis said. “I’ll put it like that. But everything has been worked out, and you will have a fight in the near future.”

Willis (8-2) had a respectable spell during his time in UFC, going unbeaten up until he faced Curtis Blaydes earlier this year at UFC Nashville, losing a one-sided unanimous decision. The 31-year-old, who trains at American Kickboxing Academy, won all four of his appearances in the UFC before that loss. The most notable win Willis had was a decision over Mark Hunt. He had one win by finish in the UFC, a first-round KO over Allen Crowder in late 2017.

According to fellow UFC heavyweight Walt Harris, Willis was offered a fight with “The Big Ticket” on July 20th, but he turned it down as he didn’t think he could make the 266 lbs heavyweight limit by that time.

“He had a chance to fight me on July 20, they offered him the contract and he told them he couldn’t make weight in two months,” Harris said on Adam Hunter’s MMA Roasted Podcast. “And so they cut him. He’s a coward. He’s all talk, no game.”

Harris will instead face Aleksei Oleinik at UFC on ESPN 4 on July 20th.