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Kazuhiro Nakamura released by the UFC

nakamura.jpgAccording to a new published report, light heavyweight competitor Kazuhiro Nakamura has been released by the UFC.

The move had been anticipated but was confirmed in the July 1 print edition of The Wrestling Observer.

The decision to release Nakamura was made shortly after his UFC 84 loss to Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou. In that fight, Nakamura was declared the loser via TKO following the first round due to a leg injury. Irrespective of the injury, Nakamura had been dominated by Sokoudjou during the fight’s opening round.

Nakamura had made his UFC debut at UFC 76 last September, where he lost a unanimous decision to Lyoto Machida. After the fight, the California State Athletic Commission announced it was fining and suspending Nakamura for testing positive for marijuana during his post-fight drug screening. Nakamura appealed but was unable to get the fine and suspension overturned.

Prior to entering the UFC, the 29-year old Tokyo native was considered one of the better light heavyweights competing for the PRIDE Fighting Championships in Japan. Known for his colorful entrances, Nakamura recorded notable victories in PRIDE over the likes of Kevin Randleman, Daniel Gracie, pro wrestler Dos Caras Jr., former UFC middleweight champion Murilo Bustamante, K-1 standout Stefan Leko, Yuki Kondo, Evangelista “Cyborg” Santos, and Igor Vovchanchyn.

He also has lost notable fights to the likes of Dan Henderson, Josh Barnett, Wanderlei Silva, Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira.

It’s uncertain as to where Nakamura will fight next. Looking at things in a purely speculative fashion, a return to Japan is possible with DREAM and World Victory Road’sSengoku” potential options. If Nakamura continues to fight in the United States, he could be a good fit for either EliteXC or Strikeforce, cost permitting.

Strikeforce light heavyweight champion Bobby Southworth is tentatively scheduled to appear on the promotion’s Playboy Mansion show in the Fall but is without an opponent. EliteXC also is in the market for a strong 205 pound fighter that could potentially challenge prospect Rafael Feijao.

The Observer goes on to add that after making wholesale cuts to its roster in recent months, the UFC is currently happy with the number of fighters it has under contract and mass releases appear to be over for the time being.