Sirwan Kakai ‘still in disbelief’ after receiving UFC release

Josh Hedges|Zuffa LLC

Josh Hedges|Zuffa LLC

Bantamweight prospect Sirwan Kakai recently signed a four-fight deal with Bellator MMA, a rival organization of the UFC. This came as a surprise to many because Kakai signed with the UFC earlier this year and had a successful run of 1-1. "The truth is, I got released by the UFC," Kakai told MMAjr.co. "For me, it was a shocker. When they told me that I got released, I couldn't believe it, and I'm still in disbelief. It doesn't make sense. "This is the thing, too. I remember I took the Danny Martinez fight on short notice, and that's how I got into the UFC," he recalled. "I was so happy, I remember two days after the fight, I had this great feeling, I accomplished one of my dreams. Then I get this call and UFC wants to ask me if I want to take another short notice fight. And I was thinking, 'Why not?' I knew I cut so much weight, I should've maybe not taken it to let my body recover, but I wanted to be in good hands with the UFC, I wanted to be a company guy. I wanted to give them a favor back, so I took the fight, and when I get back, I get cut. It doesn't really make sense. It is what it is, and now I have a new home and now I can test my skills and build my name up, so I'm happy." Over the past few years and months, we've seen more and more fighters test the free agency market and even leave the UFC to sign with other organizations for varying reasons. For example, light heavyweight contender Phil Davis recently signed with Bellator, and former UFC lightweight champ Benson Henderson is currently weighing his options as an official free agent. The new Reebok sponsorship deal is a big cause of fighters jumping ship as of late. Now, fighters cannot advertise their other sponsors in the cage or at official UFC events such as weigh-ins or press conferences. This has been an financial issue for plenty of fighters. Whatever the case may be, Kakai believes, in the near future, more fighters will test the market and possibly leave the premier MMA organization. "I could see big names, big fighters, that made so much money with sponsorships and [the UFC] cut that out, I could see bigger names and more established fighters going to Bellator, and I think more young fighters will open their eyes and see Bellator as a home too." Kakai doesn't know what the future holds for him. Another UFC run wouldn't surprise him, but he believes Bellator will be his home for quite awhile. Right now he's focused on a successful run in Bellator and getting the championship. "I'm focused on taking the belt in Bellator," he said. "I'm not going there just to fight, I want to be a champion. If it's Bellator or the UFC, it doesn't matter, but right now I'm in Bellator, so I want the Bellator belt. I feel like, that's how it's going to be now for a couple years. In a couple years I may be in the UFC, but right now I'm just focusing on doing a great debut and in dominant fashion." Taking fights on short notice is something Kakai is good at -- we saw that in both UFC fights. However, Kakai doesn't plan on taking a short notice fight in his Bellator debut because he feels fans did not see the best Kakai during his UFC tenure. "I can fight in two weeks, one week, but I don't want to make a mistake like I did in my first two fights by taking a short notice fight. I want a full camp; I talked to Bellator and they told me early March or even April. Early March is perfect for me because then I can settle down for Christmas and get back at it in January."

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