Efrain Escudero's week hasn't gotten any better since his drubbing last Wednesday night at the hands of 20 year-old phenom Charles Oliveira. The 'TUF 8' winner announced yesterday via twitter that the UFC had released him and that he was shopping offers from other smaller promotions like Bellator and Strikeforce. Escudero has the honor of being the first 'The Ultimate Fighter' season winner to be cut by the promotion. I don't count Travis Lutter because he was the winner of that weird vets only season of TUF.
Although not shocking, Escudero's release is a bit puzzling considering his short time with the promotion and not being given many gimmie fights to help his development. While we've seen TUF winners like Michael Bisping and Rashad Evans be fed more than a few tuner fights before getting into the meat of their respective divisions, Escudero was pretty much just thrown into the fire from the get go. As they say, when you win TUF, the only easy day was yesterday.
Escudero's first fight in the UFC following the TUF 8 finale was Cole Miller, and although Escudero was able to KO him in the first round, it looks like that win could be looking better every day. Miller shocked fans with his dominant performance over Ross Pearson last Wednesday night at Ultimate Fight Night 22 in Austin, dealing the Brit his first loss with the promotion.
Up next was Evan Dunham in January. I remember that fight fondly as Evan Dunham's coming out party. Dunham was able to control the action on the ground and score a sweet submission win via armbar. Escudero appeared to be injured, walking out the cage favoring his arm after it had just spent some quality time going a direction for which it was never intended.
Four months and some tendon damage later, Escudero would make his return against Dan Lauzon, a young man who was rumored to not be training for the fight after getting into personal squabbles with his older brother and UFC lightweight, Joe. Although I wrote a scathing piece on Lauzon, (Dan Lauzon Is Still Fighting In The UFC, Lazy) I never actually bothered to watch this fight. Someone has to drive to bar, and until I figure out a way to get a TV in my rear view mirror like Red Man, I'm gonna miss the occasional pre lim.
That leaves us with Charles Oliveira. The 20 year-old Brazilian was able to stand and deliver with his much bigger opponent (who also happened to weigh in three pounds over the 156 lb weight limit) before taking his back in a scramble and sinking in a rear naked choke for the win.
The missing of the weight and apparent lack of preparation are my best guess for why Escudero was canned. He had a funky lead up to this fight, having his opponents shifted on him more than once, but he did in fact know he would be fighting SOMEONE. He looked pretty lethargic against Oliveira, and that's something he needs to figure out if he ever wants to be more than an entry level break-in fight for rising stars.