Luke Sanders and four others are the latest fighters to part ways with the UFC.
Multiple people with knowledge of the situation recently confirmed to MMA Junkie the roster moves after TSN’s Aaron Bronsteter and Sherdog’s Tom Feely noted that the fighters were missing from the promotion’s online fan-ranking eligibility. The people who confirmed the roster moves asked to remain anonymous as the promotion has yet to make an official announcement.
Check out the recent UFC departures below. The roster moves, unless explicitly noted, are not necessarily a “cut.” The UFC may have elected not to re-sign certain fighters who were at the end of their promotional deals.
Anthony Birchak, left
[autotag]Anthony Birchak[/autotag]'s second UFC stint has come to an end. Adding the record from his first promotional stint (2-2) to the one from his second stint (0-2), Birchak (16-8) sits at a 2-4 promotional record as he exits the promotion for the second time. In November, Birchak returned to the promotion for the first time in four years. He took a short-notice fight against Gustavo Lopez and was submitted in Round 1. He returned in April when he took another short-notice fight against Tony Gravely, which he lost by second-round TKO. The fight was exciting and competitive but ultimately led to his second UFC exit. Birchak, 34, announced news of his release on his Facebook page.
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - MARCH 06: (R-L) Aalon Cruz kicks Uros Medic of Serbia in their lightweight fight during the UFC 259 event at UFC APEX on March 06, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)
[autotag]Aalon Cruz[/autotag] entered the UFC off of a massive flying knee knockout on Dana White's Contender Series that earned him a promotional contract. But after just two UFC appearances, Cruz (8-4 MMA, 0-2 UFC) is back in the free-agent pool. Cruz, 31, lost both of his UFC fights by first-round knockout. The first came to Spike Carlyle in February 2019. The most recent came against Uros Medic at UFC 259 in March.
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - JUNE 27: (L-R) Jordan Griffin punches Youssef Zalal of Morocco in their featherweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on June 27, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)
[autotag]Jordan Griffin[/autotag] has been on the UFC roster since a contract-earning performance on Dana White's Contender Series in 2018. However, the Roufusport product has exited the promotion on the heels of losing four out of his five promotional fights. Griffin (18-9 MMA, 1-4 UFC), who trains out of Roufusport in Milwaukee among numerous MMA notables, picked up his lone promotional victory in his third UFC fight when he defeated TJ Brown by unanimous decision. In his most recent appearance, Griffin lost a unanimous decision to Luis Saldana. According to MMA Decisions, 16 of 18 voting media members scored the fight for Griffin, as well as 82 percent of fans. In a recent tweet, Griffin vowed to make it back to the UFC and announced a move from featherweight to lightweight. https://twitter.com/Nativeg45/status/1391270816747298817?s=20
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - MARCH 13: (R-L) Ray Rodriguez punches Rani Yahya of Brazil in a bantamweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on March 13, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
After eight years of fighting professionally all over North America, [autotag]Ray Rodriguez[/autotag] finally got the UFC call-up in 2020. His UFC debut ended in just 39 seconds, however, as he was submitted by Brian Kelleher in a short-notice opportunity. His second UFC appearance went longer than the first but ultimately resulted in the same final outcome. Against submission ace Rani Yahya, Rodriguez (16-8 MMA, 0-2 UFC) was submitted in Round 2. Rodriguez announced his release in a post on his Facebook page.
Feb 17, 2019; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Luke Sanders (blue gloves) celebrates after defeating Renan Barao (not pictured) in their bantamweight bout during UFC Fight Night at Talking Stick Resort Arena. Sanders won second round finish. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
A former RFA champion Luke Sanders had a rollercoaster UFC tenure – one that dates back to 2016. Over his eight eight fight UFC tenure, Sanders (13-5 MMA, 3-5 UFC) defeated Maximo Blanco, Patrick Williams, and Renan Barao. He lost to Iuri Alcantara, Andre Soukhamthath, Rani Yahya, Nate Maness, and most recently, Felipe Colares in a fight that took place May 1. Sanders, 35, fought out the final fight on his UFC deal against Colares. While his free agency was inevitable regardless of whether he won or lost, a person with knowledge of the situation tells MMA Junkie that Sanders has been removed from the USADA pool, which indicates the end of his promotional tenure.