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Dana White cut Yushin Okami because ‘he became the gatekeeper’

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Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

RIO DE JANEIRO -- Yushin Okami went 13-5 inside the Octagon, but the UFC decided to cut the former middleweight title challenger following a devastating first-round knockout loss to Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza at UFC Fight Night 28.

UFC president Dana White explained to the media during the UFC 168 media day that he decided to release the Japanese fighter because he "became the gatekeeper."

"Yushin Okami has been there forever and I’ve said many times I have nothing but respect for Yushin Okami," White told the media on Sunday. "He's one of the best Japanese fighters ever. But a guy gets to a point where he becomes the gatekeeper."

Prior to his loss to "Jacare", Okami was riding a three-fight win streak over the likes of Hector Lombard and Alan Belcher, but that wasn’t enough to keep his contract with the UFC.

"It's time for Yushin Okami to go out and test himself outside of the UFC, get some wins and maybe come back," he said. "Yushin Okami had every opportunity in the world, taking on all the best. He even got a title shot and didn't win. It is what it is. It's no different than the NFL, soccer or any other sport."

Asked if the decision to cut Okami was related to his fight purse, White denied the move was a financial one.

"I don't know what we paid Yushin," White said, "but it had nothing to do with his numbers, what he was being paid."