MMA Analysis: Joe Stevenson Released from UFC

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As many have expected, The Ultimate Fighter 2 winner, Joe Stevenson, has been released by the UFC.  Stevenson’s career has taken a marked downhill turn, losing his last four and six of nine since his defeat to B.J. Penn in a bid for the lightweight championship at UFC 80.

Stevenson beat Marcus Davis, Jason Von Flue, and Luke Cummo to win The Ultimate Fighter 2 welterweight tournament.  Following a loss to Josh Neer in his first post-TUF fight, Joe dropped to lightweight winning four straight, including wins over Yves Edwards, Kurt Pellegrino and Melvin Guillard, to earn a shot at the vacant lightweight title against B.J. Penn.  He mounted little offense against Baby Jay; battered and bloodied, he succumbed to rear-naked choke in the second round.

After winning his next bout against Gleison Tibau, Stevenson seemed to lose something.  He dropped two straight to Kenny Florian and Diego Sanchez then picked up a couple more wins over Nate Diaz and Spencer Fisher.  These were the last victories “Daddy” would see in the Octagon.  He dropped a decision to a surging contender in George Sotiropoulos, and then was knocked out by fellow TUF winner, Mac Danzig (whose own UFC career was likely on the line).  In what really should have been a tune-up fight, Stevenson was shocked and upset by WEC crossover, Danny Castillo.

This is when Joe was really put on the hot seat.  He needed a makeover, so he decided to make the drop to featherweight.  At UFC Live: Kongo vs.Berry, Stevenson made his 145 pound debut against Javier Vasquez.  Not looking at all like a man with his back against the wall, he dropped a decision.  Speculation began to run rampant about whether he would or should be cut.  It took almost a month and half, but it finally happened.

Stevenson is just the fourth TUF winner to be cut by the UFC, following in the footsteps of Kendall Grove, Travis Lutter, and Efrain Escudero.  He is also one of nine former TUF contestants to fight for a UFC title.  With his name recognition alone, there are likely several regional promotions, or maybe even Bellator, willing to pick up the former contender.  Don’t expect this to sideline him for long.

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