It appears Augusto Sakai’s next fight will be outside the UFC.
Sakai (16-5-1 MMA, 5-4 UFC) completed his contract in February with a unanimous decision win over Don’Tale Mayes at UFC Fight Night 220 in Las Vegas. He swept Mayes on the scorecards in the co-main event to snap a four-fight skid.
Now the 31-year-old Brazilian heavyweight will test free agency, a person with knowledge of the decision told MMA Junkie. News of Sakai’s removal from the UFC roster first was reported by the UFC Roster Watch account on Twitter.
Sakai started his pro career in 2011 and went 9-0 out of the gate, including four wins and three knockouts under the Bellator banner. After a split decision loss to Cheick Kongo, Sakai picked up a win in Brazil ahead of an invitation to the first Dana White’s Contender Series event in Brazil.
After a second-round TKO of Marcos Conrado, Sakai found himself in the UFC a little more than two months later. He started his tenure with the promotion with four straight wins over Chase Sherman, former heavyweight champ Andrei Arlovski, Marcin Tybura and Blagoy Ivanov to creep into title contention.
But in September 2020, after he dominated Alistair Overeem for the majority of the fight, he got caught and put away 26 seconds into the last round of their UFC Fight Night 176 main event. It was the first time Sakai had been finished.
He got another main event his next time out in June 2021 and suffered a similar fate, but much quicker. Jairzinho Rozenstruik put him away with a TKO with one second left in the first round. Sakai had a knockout loss to Tai Tuivasa in December 2021 and a TKO setback to Serghei Spivac in August 2022 for a four-fight skid – all by knockout.
Then he rebounded against Mayes in February for his first win since May 2020. It remains to be seen where Sakai will wind up, but Bellator president Scott Coker has said multiple times in recent months he will talk to any notable free agents, and Sakai has history with the promotion.