THURSDAY NEWS DIGEST: Big UFC departure as matchmaker Joe Silva on way out, GSP lists possible opponents, Diaz on Conor rematch, rankings

By Mike Hiscoe, MMATorch contributor

George St. Piette (photo by Wade Keller © MMATorch)


The WME-IMG era of UFC has seen its first front office casualty, and it’s a big one. After being with the company since before Zuffa took over, Joe Silva will be leaving his position of UFC matchmaker later this year.

News broke Wednesday afternoon, and first reported by MMAJunkie, that Silva will be leaving, not due to any corporate overhaul, but because he profited enough from the recent sale of UFC to WME-IMG that he can retire comfortably.

Silva was the longest-tenured employee of UFC and was the sole matchmaker for many years, succeeding the very first UFC matchmaker Art Davie, until Sean Shelby was brought in after the WEC purchase to oversee the lighter weight and eventually the women’s divisions.

No official end date has been put in place for Silva nor has there been any official statement from Silva or the UFC.

Hiscoe’s Analysis: Silva was instrumental in the growth of UFC and he won’t be easily replaced. While the idea of getting to match up fighters and make exciting fight cards for a living sounds like a dream job to many, it had its challenges as well. Silva had to make match-ups that were competitive while still creating pathways for fighters to grow into contenders and stars without cutting them off. He also had to make the difficult decision of when to cut fighters from the roster, a process that is not an exact science, as some fighters get cut after one loss and others have received second, third, and even fourth chances.

His work load must have been much bigger in recent years with many more cards being added to the schedule and the cards having more fights on them than they did previously. As an example, UFC in 2005 ran 10 events for 80 total fights and in 2015 they ran 41 events for 437 total fights. Even if he only handles half of those fights, that’s a huge increase in workload. Also to be considered is the fact that fighters are human. They have demands and they aren’t always going to go along with what the matchmaker wants. There was likely a lot of salesmanship going into Silva’s job, especially when asking a fighter to take a less than favorable matchup. He leaves big shoes to fill. Sean Shelby could see his role increased or perhaps they could promote a former fighter to the position; Brian Stann comes to mind.


-During an appearance on UFC Tonight last night, GSP said he is interested in fighting Welterweight Champion Tyron Woodley, Nick Diaz, or Demian Maia. Compare that to Jamie Penick’s recent Top Five Opponents for GSP list.

-Anthony Pettis debuted at the no. 6 position in UFC’s official featherweight rankings after his win over Charles Oliveira last weekend. Paige VanZant increased her strawweight ranking from 10 to 8 after her highlight reel knockout of Bec Rawlings.

-Alexandre Pantoja and Kai Kara-France won their first round match-ups on last night’s premiere of The Ultimate Fighter 24 defeating Brandon Moreno and Terrence Mitchell respectively. LINK TO OUR REPORT.

THE ULTIMATE FIGHTER REPORT 8/31 – Benavidez vs. Cejudo, episode 1: Teams chosen, Pantoja vs. Morena, Kara-France vs. Mitchell

-Nate Diaz told Chael Sonnen on his podcast that he feels he beat Conor McGregor twice and is in no rush for a third fight. This is a change from his initial stance that he wouldn’t fight until he got a rubber match since officially speaking he did lose his second fight to him.

-Kelvin Gastellum vs. Jorge Masvidal and Diego Sanchez vs. Marcin Held have been added to the Nov. 5 TUF: Latin America Finale from Mexico City.

-A Heavyweight fight between Derrick Lewis and Marcin Tybura has been added to UFC Fight Night 97 on Oct. 15 from Manila, Philippines

-There will be a conference call at 4 p.m. Eastern with Mickey Gall and CM Punk. You can listen live or watch on-demand at this link.

-Dong Hyun Kim vs. Gunnar Nelson will main event the Nov. 19 show from Belfast.


Every Thursday we’ll post a classic fight from a fighter on an upcoming card. This week it’s Bigfoot Silva vs. Andrei Arlovski:

CHECK OUT YESTERDAY’S WEDNESDAY NEWS DIGEST: Setting the stage for tonight premiere of The Ultimate Fighter on FS1, plus Tito Ortiz’s big challenge and other news

WEDNESDAY NEWS DIGEST: Setting the stage for tonight premiere of The Ultimate Fighter on FS1, plus Tito Ortiz’s big challenge and other news

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