Discounting a few high profile exceptions, within the UFC it is well known that a three straight losses can spell the end of a tenure for fighters. In the end, the organization is above all else a business, and a struggling product without the aid of a big name is of little monetary value to the cause. Such is the case for John Howard and Andre Winner. Following intense speculation, the pair of once-promising prospects were officially cut from the UFC on Monday morning.
Once considered the next big thing in the welterweight division, Howard stormed out of the gate to start his stay in the organization. "Doomsday" won his first four fights from early 2009 to 2010, improving dramatically as the months went on. After capping the streak with a highlight reel first round knockout of Daniel Roberts at UFC Live 1, Howard had proven worthy of a step up in competition.
UFC matchmaker Joe Silva obliged, giving the 28-year old two consecutive matches against top-10 opponents, Jake Ellenberger and Thiago Alves. However, the step proved to be too much too soon for Howard, as he dropped both bouts within a span of four months.
Suddenly staring the dreaded three-in-a-row streak straight in the eyes, the Boston native signed on to fight Matt Brown, a veteran of "The Ultimate Fighter 7" who had fallen on his own hard times and was also teetering on the verge of dismissal. Despite being favored by odds-makers, Howard quickly found himself shrinking from Brown's standup assault, eventually losing a close decision battle at UFC Live 4 that would ensure his newfound future.
It is a cruel twist on irony that Andre Winner's release would come on the same day as Howard's, given the enormously comparable career arc the two share.
Winner was first introduced to UFC fans as the runner-up on "The Ultimate Fighter 9". Fighting out Team Rough House in Nottingham, England, the Brit impressed the UFC brass with three first round finishes on his way to the show's finale.
He maintained that momentum to begin his official UFC career, running roughshod over Roli Delgado and Rafaello Oliveira in his first two post-finale fights. However, things soon screeched to a halt, as Winner would lose a smothering three round decision to Nik Lentz at UFC 118 and become a victim of the surging Dennis Siver at UFC 122.
With a battle against Anthony Njokuani at UFC 132 serving as his last stand, Winner came up short again. Njokuani almost finished the 29-year old several times in the first round via a blistering blitzkrieg of haymakers on route to earning a decisive unanimous decision victory.
Following his release from the UFC, Winner (11-6-1, 2-4 UFC) and his agent, Wad Alameddine, reported that the Brit would be focusing on rebuilding on his name through a myriad of U.K. based events. The British Association of Mixed Martial Arts (BAMMA) was specifically mentioned as a possible outlet for the TUF-veteran.