A big name fighter has been released by the UFC and another fight has been added to an upoming fight card, and I’ll give my thoughts on both pieces of news in today’s MMA odds and ends.
Josh Barnett Released By UFC
Former UFC heavyweight champion Josh Barnett has been granted his release by the promotion, according to a report from MMAjunkie.com. Barnett (35-8) has not fought since a “Fight of the Night” submission victory over Andrei Arlovski at UFC Fight Night 93 in September 2016. Since then, Barnett was caught up with USADA after receiving notice of a possible drug test failure in December 2016, and it was not until March 2018 that Barnett was given a public apology by USADA after it was found he took a tainted supplement. Barnett would no longer agree to USADA’s testing, and for good reason after he missed over a year of his career, and so the UFC decided it was mututally beneficial to release him from contract. Barnett is now a free agent and is free to sign with another promotion. This is pure speculation on my part, but I’d expect both Bellator and RIZIN to be interested in Barnett’s services. It’s too bad Barnett wasn’t released earlier as he would have been a lock to compete in Bellator’s Heavyweight Grand Prix, but he could still serve as an alternate, though I do think he’s a great fit in RIZIN as well.
John Moraga vs. Deiveson Figueiredo, UFC Fight Night 135
A flyweight bout between John Moraga and Deiveson Figueiredo has been added to UFC Fight Night 135, which takes place Saturday, August 25 at Pinnacle Bank Arena in Ohama, Nebraska. The UFC has officially confirmed the bout. Moraga (19-6) is currently riding a three-fight win streak that has catapulted him back onto the fringes of title contention at 125lbs. The Arizona native defeated Wilson Reis, Magomed Bibulatov and Ashkan Mokhtarian in his last three matches, which snapped a three-fight losing streak that also had him cut from the UFC. All-time, Moraga is a solid 8-5 in the Octagon. Figueiredo (14-0) has been a pleasant surprise since joining the UFC, going 3-0 with wins over Marco Beltran, Jarred Brooks and Joseph Morales. Of his 14 pro wins, 12 have come by stoppage. Moraga has more experience against higher-level competition and is more proven in the UFC, but I really like Figueiredo, and I believe he can win this fight. I expect Moraga to be the slight favorite from an odds perspective, and if that’s the case I would take a shot at Figueiredo.