Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) sets the bar pretty high when it comes to mixed martial arts (MMA).
The ZUFFA-owned promotion has the strongest talent pool, stages the best cards, and pumps out the highest quality match-ups the sport has to offer.
UFC President Dana White; however, made it clear that his roster is "too full" while regularly trimming the fat in the wake of major events. At one point, UFC released former welterweight number one contender Jon Fitch -- along with 15 other fighters -- following UFC 156. It also dropped former middleweight "gatekeeper," Yushin Okami, who was put out to pasture after getting smoked by Ronaldo Souza.
Both ended up in World Series of Fighting (WSOF).
Which begs the question of how the company decides who gets released, and how fighters with records the likes of 8-8 and 18-13 stay afloat in the competitive waters of UFC?
Nam Phan lost at UFC Fight Night 33 on Friday (Dec. 6, 2013) via decision following a "Fight of the Night" caliber war against Takeya Mizugaki, continuing his trend of going the distance.
Every one of the World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) and Strikeforce veteran's fights under the UFC banner has gone the full 15 minutes. The key to this, is they have usually been worth watching, namely his two wars against Leonard Garcia. Phan has an uncanny ability for absorbing punishment. While this may not be good for him long term, the style has prolonged his tenure in a company that is quick to move on with new top prospects.
Barry is famous for another reason -- brevity.
When the Louisiana native is in action, don't blink. "HD" has knocked out his opponent in seven of his eight victories and if he wasn't out there taking peoples' heads off, chances are he was being finished himself. With the loss to Soa Palelei in the first round on FOX Sports 1, five of his eight losses have now come in the opening frame.
This encourages a gutsy and sometimes cringe-worthy style of fighting that any fight promoter loves (it worked for Dan Hardy). Thus, explaining why fighters similar to Fitch, Ryan Couture and the still unsigned Ben Askren remain outside of UFC's broad range.
While it's unlikely Phan or Barry will receive their pink slip anytime before the holidays, one can only wonder if the end of the road for each comes soon. Regardless of entertainment value, you have to win at some point, and lately for both, the victories haven't been coming so often.
Just like Phan's cornerman told him prior to coming out for the third and final round, "this is your freakin' career."