Following a decisive finish over B.J. Penn, former UFC featherweight contender Yair Rodriguez had a bright future ahead of him. However, all of it was cut short when the UFC decided to release him last week for turning down two fight offers against Zabit Magomedsharipov and Ricardo Lamas.
As expected, many cried foul over the UFC’s move to cut “El Pantera” from the roster, but according to former UFC title contender Chael Sonnen, it actually had to be done as part of company policy.
“I did read a post on something that kids call the ‘underground forum’, and they were saying how that was wrong of Dana White to release him for not wanting to fight,” Sonnen said on the recent episode of his Beyond the Fight podcast. “Well, you’re devastatingly wrong about that point. Dana has to do that. He has to make sure (that he’s) maintaining the integrity of his company, (that) the guys are fighting the right guys.”
“This is a UFC policy, and this is explained to all of the guys on the roster from the beginning. You will be called an offer to fight,” he explained. “You can say no to the first fight, but you cannot say no to the second fight. So you play that however you want. You can say no once, you can’t say no twice.”
According to Sonnen, the 25-year-old Mexican fighter made himself “eligible” to be cut by the UFC, simply based on the policy that he explained.
“In Yair’s case, when he turned two guys down, well, of course, you release him. There’s nothing else you can do,” Sonnen said. “It’s not the boxing model where guys get protected or guys get to pick their own fights, or guys can only take fights that they think they can win. It doesn’t work like that.”
“The contenders and the ranked guys have to fight the other contenders and the other ranked guys, whoever they are, as long as they’re in the same weight class. That’s it. So when he said no (twice), he became eligible for (release).”
Rodriguez last fought at UFC 211 a year ago, where he went through a beating courtesy of Frankie Edgar that led to a doctor stoppage at the end of round two.