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Morning Report: Surprising roster cuts cast worrisome shadow over UFC 157 fighters

For a brief moment on Wednesday, a fighter who many loathed for years, overshadowed the UFC’s historic undertaking in Anaheim. In a way it was perverse vengeance. The third-most successful welterweight in the promotion’s history, the conductor of a six-year train of dominance, and a staple at the top of the division for over half a decade, Jon Fitch carried the resume of a UFC Hall of Famer, but the reputation of a pariah. Overlooked for a majority of his career, and fired once before in 2008, it was only recently that Fitch began to feel the court of public opinion sway in his favor, though that means very little now. Fitch has no option but to shop his services elsewhere, as a newfound sense of dread spreads over his former Zuffa stablemates. If Fitch, the owner of a 14-3-1 Octagon record and the No. 9 ranked welterweight in the UFC’s official rankings, was so dispensable, what’s keeping the men ranked below him employed? Survey over yesterday’s reaction from the pros, and the unease is palpable. Seven of yesterday’s unlucky 16 fought and lost last week at UFC on FUEL 7, with Stanislav Nedkov left as the sole survivor from a forsaken undercard. According to John Morgan, those men were the first of what may amount to 100 upcoming roster cuts. How must the athletes fighting on Saturday’s UFC 157 prelims feel after hearing that? Talk about pressure. Gerald Harris understands this better than most. A former TUF contestant, Harris fought three times for the UFC over a span of seven months back in 2010, winning all three by knockout, before abruptly receiving his walking papers following his first loss. Fighters have no rights, a frustrated Harris wrote yesterday. We are not robots or animals — we are human beings with families and lives outside of fighting. I’m venting because I’m sick of people saying be exciting or be cut. When I look into my kids eyes, I don’t say ”ËœI’m about to go out there and swing for the fences for this company.’ I say I’m going to fight as smart as possible to finish this fight and keep food on this table. We love to watch our favorite athletes, but in the sport of MMA, fighters come and go like we are a part of a temp agency, he continued. Brought in to work hard for the ”ËœOrganization’ but dumped in the trash like [a] diaper after we are sh–ted on. … You cannot live day to day or fight to fight not knowing if [you’re] going to have a job the next day. IN MMA WE KEEP OUR JOB BY WINNING, YOU GAIN FANS BY WINNING! Regardless if they like you or not they will tune in. You lose your job by losing, or in this case not being ”Ëœentertaining,’ which is only done in this sport. The fact of the matter is, entertaining or not, if you have a three-fight deal you should get three fights. If [you’re] not exciting then yes, you could not be resigned. But to be on the chopping block every time you fight is straight up bulls–t! If you think someone is boring then don’t sign them. Guys fight safe when they think they can be cut, Harris said in closing. Do you honestly think that firing a lot of people is going to motivate guys to fight harder? No, they will do the opposite — anyone who feels they can get cut will do what it takes to win. More focus on competition will lead to more COMPETITIVE fights. Entertainment comes from good competition, not unintelligent fights. 6 MUST-READ STORIES Massive UFC cuts. 16 fighters received their release from the UFC on Wednesday, a list that surprisingly included top-10 staple Jon Fitch, Mike Russow, Vladimir Matyushenko, Che Mills, Terry Etim, Paul Sass, Jorge Santiago and Ulysses Gomez. If the UFC intended to make a statement to its athletes, it did just that. UFC 157 interviews. Catch up on all of the UFC 157 pre-fight action as our own Ariel Helwani interviews Ronda Rousey, Liz Carmouche, Dan Henderson, Lyoto Machida, Urijah Faber and Ivan Menjivar. Bellator 90 weigh-in results. All eight main card fighters met their required weight at Wednesday’s official Bellator 90 weigh-ins, including featherweight headliners Shahbulat Shamhalaev and Rad Martinez, as well as former Strikeforce champion Muhammed King Mo Lawal. Machida talks 185, co-main event. Former UFC light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida admitted to initially being upset with Ronda Rousey’s main event status, though he has since come around. Machida also opened the door for a potential drop down in weight, stating, If I have a chance, I’d like to fight at 185 pounds. Maybe I can fight in both classes. Diaz petition denied in district court. Nick Diaz’s petition for judicial review, which challenged the punishment handed out by Keith Kizer and the Nevada State Athletic Commission for Diaz’s positive drug test, was denied by a Nevada district court judge. UFC 160 announcements. Two noteworthy lightweight bouts — T.J. Grant vs. Gray Maynard and Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Abel Trujillo — have been added to the fight card of UFC 160. MEDIA STEW Catch this week’s episode of The Ultimate Fighter 17…

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