In a shocking turn of events, it has come to light that Misha Cirkunov, Lorenz Larkin and Rick Story have been removed from the latest UFC rankings. It is believed that all fighters are no longer under UFC contract. This comes as a shock to fans across the world given both the ability and rankings of each fighter.
It’s a stinker of a move if the UFC don’t re-sign Lorenz Larkin
Larkin (18-5-1 NC) seemed a sensible and exciting match-up for rising welterweight Jorge Masvidal. “The Monsoon” beat “Gamebred” in their only encounter, but after Masvidal beat Donald Cerrone, a rematch with the Californian seemed an exciting prospect. Lorenz followed his win over the Floridian with a first round TKO of top ten contender Neil Magny. Prior to the updated rankings, the Millennia MMA man was coming off the back of two very impressive wins, and it is a decision that has left fans bemused at the 30-year-old’s exit.
Misha Cirkunov is one of the most promising 205lbers on the roster
Cirkunov (13-2) seemed to be taking the light-heavyweight scene by storm with a perfect record of 8-0 since 2013, with his last loss coming in 2012 at the hands of Aaron Johnson. Amassing four wins under the UFC banner, the Latvian-Canadian was only going in one direction, and that was up. With an impressive win over fellow prospect Nikita Krylov in the first round, the Xtreme Couture athlete sent shockwaves through the 205llb division and was bringing life back to the fleeting weight class in terms of depth.
A horror story as veteran Rick Story is also expected to face the chopping block
Finally, Story (19-9) is a welterweight that’s as experienced as they come. With names on his record such as Cerrone, Kelvin Gastelum, Demian Maia and notable wins over Gunnar Nelson, Johny Hendricks and Jake Ellenburger, Story was a man constantly floating around with ‘contender’ status. Though his career was hit and miss in terms of results, “The Horror” epitomised fighting. Dodging nobody and refusing to quit were admirable traits of the MMA Lab man who enjoyed over seven years under the UFC promotion.
So why have these three talents been axed?
Larkin was undoubtedly the most expected of any to leave the organisation. With the Magny bout being the last fight in Larkin’s contract, a renewal of that contract seemed unequivocal. “The Monsoon” was offered a new contract but he expressed his dismay at the deal when he spoke to ESPN’s 5ive Rounds podcast: “The deal they brought to me was, you know, not attractive whatsoever. It really was nothing.” After beating the Illinoisan, Larkin expressed his intrigue and excitement over free agency and insisted, “I just want somebody who can market me.” After a highly successful career so far, it will be interesting to see where he goes from now.
Cirkunov being axed was without question the biggest shock of the day. With a perfect UFC record, likeable character and huge aspirations, many are struggling to get their heads around the Canadian prospect being removed from the UFC roster. A novice in many ways, the Latvian was building a reputation for himself and as he revealed in an interview with John Ramdeen, nobody expected him to reach the heights he has. A possible explanation for the decision to axe Misha could be marketability. Latvia isn’t a stronghold for mixed martial arts and as a result, he might not have the fanbase that a similar caliber American fighter may have. Not only this but despite being humble and down to earth, Cirkunov often fails to bring the excitement factor and hype that many fighters around him bring.
Lastly, American Story has enjoyed a long and gruelling career but with his career nearing an end, this is one decision that can be applauded. Whilst there is no doubting that “The Horror” still has the ability to compete at a top 20 level, if the Washington Native was to suffer another defeat following his loss to “Cowboy,” it could be a case of his legacy being damaged. To leave the UFC now as a seven-year veteran that’s fought almost everyone he possibly could seems fitting. His legacy remains intact despite his last loss as Cerrone is a world class operator who many have suffered defeat to. Story can now leave the sport healthy and as a hero.