Earlier this week, UFC fans were caught off guard when two legends of the sport where released from the promotion. On Wednesday, former UFC heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos and former Strikeforce heavyweight champion Alistair Overeem were let go amid continuing roster cuts by the UFC and, speaking with TMZ Sports, UFC President Dana White explained the decision for the company to part ways with two of its most recognizable names.
“Nothing happened behind the scenes,” White said. “They’re both great guys who have had incredible careers here. First of all, people get cut every week. I think those two are pretty self-explanatory. It’s nothing negative, it’s just part of the sport. If you look up what they’ve done recently, you look at their age, you look at everything that’s going on, it’s pretty self-explanatory.”
Dos Santos and Overeem are just the latest in a series of high and low-profile releases by the UFC. In December, White promised “serious cuts” were coming to the roster that had swelled to over 700 fighters. Since then, the UFC has parted ways with names like Anderson Silva and Yoel Romero and as with those two, White insists that there was absolutely no animosity in the decision to release dos Santos and Overeem. In fact, White he had nothing but good things to say about the two legends.
“Not even close,” White said when asked about bad blood playing a factor. “100 percent (this was amicable). We’ve had a great run and love Alistair and the same with Junior dos Santos. Alistair Overeem never said no to a fight. Never turned down a fight, never said no, would fight anybody. And Junior dos Santos is one of the nicest human beings in the sport. So nothing but amazing things to say about both guys.”
Dos Santos is a former heavyweight champion who has competed for the UFC for the last 12 years; however, recently he has fallen on hard times inside the octagon, losing his last four fights in a row, all by KO. That being said, it’s also worth noting that his previous four opponents are currently ranked first, third, fourth, and sixth in the world respectively in the UFC’s rankings and dos Santos himself was ranked number 12. Conversely, Overeem has actually been on a good run lately. Currently the seventh-ranked heavyweight according to the UFC, last year Overeem scored a pair of stoppage wins over rising prospects before getting knocked out by Alexander Volkov in February.
It seems the sticking point for the UFC though was the age of the two future Hall of Famers. At 37 and 40 respectively, dos Santos and Overeem certainly don’t have many years left in their careers and the ones they do are unlikely to bear the same sort of fruit as their younger years did. As is always the case in sports, Father Time remains undefeated.
“It’s not even that (our relationship) ran its course,” White concluded. “The one thing, age gets us all. Those guys are getting – I’m sitting here talking about how good they are, I don’t want to sit here and s*** on them, but listen, we all get old. We cut people every week. Every week, people come and people go.”
For their parts both dos Santos and Overeem have taken the split well, with each publicly commenting and thanking the UFC for their time in the organization.
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