The free market is a funny thing considering that many fighters have to opportunity to resign with the UFC before their next fight, but quite a few big name fighters have opened up to test the free market. While they are not truly free to sign with anyone else, they do have to have the UFC match the offer or they can choose to let them go. Well, after about 90 days they become free to sign wherever they want. We have seen Gilbert Melendez use this in his favor to get a position coaching TUF and a title fight. Now three big names ar using it but they are all in different spots in their career.
First, you have young up and comer Aljamain Sterling who completed is four fight UFC contract by remaining flawless in the Octagon. He has rocketed up the Bantamweight ladder with sitting at #5 in the rankings. Obviously, the division is tied up on who the true champion is with Dominick Cruz facing off with TJ Dillashaw next year , the promotion seems set on the big money fight with Urijah Faber coming up next, but who comes after those fights. Well, logic would say Sterling who has been impressive of Rafael Assuncao, but he has been so injured it is hard to grant him a title shot without knowing how he will hold up if he wins the belt. Barao is out of the picture for now, and the only other fighter in the top 15 coming off a win and under 30 is Thomas Almedia. The UFC needs young contenders and you would hope the UFC matches whatever offers he gets to keep him in the Octagon.
The you have the battle tested, but still contender material, Benson Henderson.This is a man who finds himself ranked in the top 15 in two divisions, a former champion and a draw for the UFC in developing countries. He has had ups and downs going 4-2 in the last two years, but he has also headlined five of those fights and had opponents switches in his last three. This is a company man, and hopefully he can use this free agency to garner a bigger paycheck but ultimately stay with the company.
Lastly, you have Alistair Overeem whose tenure comes to an end this weekend. He is currently ranked number 9 in the promotion at Heavyweight, and has a chance to beat Junior dos Santos as well as holds a win over the current champion. Unless he comes through with a win this weekend, I doubt the UFC tries to retain him. He commands a huge paycheck but has not been able to perform up to par in the Octagon so far. The Lesnar win was great in his debut, but the failed drug test followed that up and put the kibosh on a big fight for the UFC when JDS was the champion. Then knockout losses to Bigfoot and Travis Browne tarnished his appeal after he was off steriods and his last four fights have been abysmal with him being unable to knockout Frank Mir or Roy Nelson and only able to TKO Stefan Struve in his wins and not to mention the terrible loss to Ben Rothwell. Yes, the Heavyweight division is weak, but this is the biggest fight that Overeem is worth to the UFC and it does not mean much with really nothing on the line. Velasquez would wreck Overeem, Werdum is a different animal, Arlovski would most likely put him out and JDS will most likely do the same this weekend. Free up the salary and resign the other two fighters. It only makes sense. Who agrees?