Okami, 32, is 29-8 in his mixed martial arts career and 13-5 in the UFC. But he was routed by Anderson Silva in a title match at UFC 134 in 2011 and has also lost to Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza, Chael Sonnen, Tim Boetsch and Rich Franklin in the UFC. The loss to Franklin was a title eliminator match.
UFC president Dana White had referred to Okami as "the best fighter ever to come out of Japan" several times, but said it was Okami's lack of a signature win that doomed him with the UFC.
"He's been with us forever," White said of Okami, who first fought in the UFC in 2006. "He was always a tough guy and was right up there, but it's almost like he'd become a gatekeeper. I like Okami, and you've heard me say this many times, that a win over Yushin Okami meant something.
"But he was never able to get over the hump and win one of those [significant] fights. We have a lot of guys coming in and I've been saying this all year: We have a full roster and there are guys who deserve opportunities. When you bring guys in, someone has to go. That's why these fights are so meaningful."
The UFC also dropped Ricci, a lightweight who lost to Myles Jury last week at UFC 165 in Toronto, White said. Ricci was the runner-up to Colton Smith at "The Ultimate Fighter 16," but had scored the season's Knockout of the Year in the semifinals when he knocked out Neil Magny.
Ricci, who was 1-2 in the UFC, defeated Colin Fletcher at UFC 158 for his only official win in the organization.
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- Martial Arts
- Yushin Okami
- Mike Ricci