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Will ‘high-dollar’ UFC fighters lose roster spots to DWCS signings?

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It sounds as if a roster purge is coming to the UFC and it’s worth watching who gets cut

MMA: JUN 12 UFC Fight Night Weigh-In Photo by Diego Ribas/PxImages/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

If Dana White keeps up the pace, he will sign 24 fighters during the six-week run of Season 4 of the Dana White Contender Series, which is a high number when you consider the most White had signed in an earlier season was 30 and that came over the 10-week Season 3.

White has not sounded too jazzed by some signings this season.

After Episode 3, White was asked if signing five fighters from a 5-fight card was because the UFC needs more people to fill up cards. White denied it, but his explanation made it sound as if the UFC badly needs bodies as soon as possible.

“If you look at the performances tonight, you know they’re not what I normally go for,” White said. “I usually go for the people that are decisive and finish the fight and make me not say no. But when you look at a guy like Impa (Kasanganay) he’s 7-0 now (and) he wants to fight again August 22… so let’s see what they got.”

Except for the few who got developmental contracts, in the past, White seemed only interested in taking fighters who he felt were UFC ready. He seems more than interested in taking a flyer on question marks this season though.

“I just felt like the ones that were questionable, I’m going to let them answer all the questions themselves,” White said before once again stressing that he liked the fact that Kasanganay was willing to fight again in less than two weeks. “For Impa to want to turn around and fight again — smart move, really good move. You’re seeing a lot of that with a lot of these kids these days. These kids want to turn around (and fight) and it’s literally the best thing they could do for themselves.”

If you read between the lines, it seems as if White is sending a message that a willingness to turn around and fight as soon as medically possible following a DWCS win will be looked upon favorably by the promotion. After all, it’s “literally the best thing” fighters can do for themselves.

Reading between the lines was not required after this week’s event.

White was asked if the DWCS signings could bring about a culling of the UFC roster.

“Yeah, no. It’s all a numbers game,” White responded. “I mean, we have to give everybody three fights a year. So, you can only have so many people under contract. Yeah.”

“This is the fourth season, we’ve done four seasons of this show. I mean, this is how it works,” White added. “It’s been like this for 20 years. Every once in a while, you’ll see a huge cut. We’ll go through and, you know, there’ll be 14-15 guys cut in a week. Stuff like that. That’s just the nature of the beast.”

The UFC has already reduced the roster a bit over the past month, with notable cuts and releases such as Corey Anderson, Bethe Correia, Evan Dunham and Ray Borg among others.

The concern about the potential roster cuts is the global COVID-19 pandemic. Many fighters cannot train properly or in a manner they have become accustomed to because of restrictions. Other fighters might have also decided not to fight or travel because of concerns over the coronavirus.

If those fighters, especially if they are on a losing skid or have “high-priced” contracts, get released in favor of entry-level talent on low-cost contracts, that sends a terrible message to the entire roster. A message that would seem to run counter to what White said earlier this year when he emphasized multiple times that fighters don’t have to fight if they do not feel safe during the pandemic.

As White admits the probability of massive cuts, in the coming weeks we will probably see if not fighting during a global pandemic will keep fighters’ spots on the roster safe.