While most UFC 123 spectators will agree that “Hurricane” Gerald Harris (17-3) had an unexpectedly disappointing and lackluster performance against UFC newcomer “Big Rig” Maiquel Falcao (8-1), many were still shocked when it was announced today that Harris had been released from the UFC. To say the cut seems unwarranted is a vast understatement. Prior to his loss at UFC 123, Harris was coasting along on a ten-fight winning streak and boasted an undefeated 3-0 record in the UFC, with two of those victories earning “Knockout of the Night” honors. In his professional MMA career, “Hurricane” finished 15 of his 17 defeated opponents via TKO, KO, or submission, respectively. Clearly, Harris is no chump.
One of the main arguments being used to validate the release of Harris is that he was defeated by a relatively unknown fighter making his UFC debut. Falcao may be a newcomer to the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s fan base, but he certainly is no stranger to the Chute Box community. The Brazilian is a third-degree black belt in Jiu-Jitsu and is well known for annihilating contenders like a hungry lion to a buffalo. Falcao’s official record may only be 8-1, but “Big Rig” has a wealth of unsanctioned battles under his belt with his cumulative record reaching 26-3. An astonishing 21 of his 26 victories came by way of TKO or KO, while three submissions and two decisions comprise the rest of his wins. The vast majority of his opponents never even made it out of the first round. To say that Falcao is anything less than an imposing opponent and a viable threat to the UFC’s middleweight division is nothing short of ignorant. Furthermore, to say that Falcao should have been an easy win for Harris is just plain stupid.
The real issue that needs to be addressed here is why after just one sub-par performance by Harris was he cut from the UFC? There are many other UFC fighters who fit the bill better than Harris for a pink slip. For example – French Canadian welterweight “The Road Warrior” Jonathan Goulet (23-11) never climbed the UFC rankings and has been in-and-out of the organization since his debut at UFC Fight Night 2 in October 2005. Moreover, his record in the UFC is an unimpressive 4-5. “The King of Rock and Rumble” Elvis Sinosic (8-11-2) went 1-6 in the UFC and had six consecutive losses before finally being cut from the organization for what is presumably the final time. The aforementioned may be extreme examples, but why do guys like these survive in the UFC, and formidable contenders like Gerald Harris don’t?
UFC President Dana White said about the Harris’ release: “This is the big leagues man. It’s no different than Major League Baseball, no different than the NFL. You perform, or you go away… I’d rather have two guys in a dog fight and have a guy lose and keep him around than have a guy who’s in the Ultimate Staring Competition for five minutes. Nobody wants to see that [expletive].”
Though White’s statement certainly holds water, few would say that “Hurricane” fits the criteria for being a monotonous, uninteresting, non-UFC-worthy fighter. White may feel justified in his decision to cut Harris from the UFC, but many fans vehemently disagree and can’t help but feel robbed.