BREAKING: The UFC has released heavyweight Justin Willishttps://t.co/0HPPUlOD28— Aaron Bronsteter (@aaronbronsteter) May 24, 2019
Editor's Note: The story has been updated at 3:45 p.m. ET on 5/24/2019 to reflect additional information.
Ultimate Fighting Championship heavyweight Justin Willis has been abruptly released from his contract.
First reported by TSN on Friday, Willis (8-2, 4-1 UFC) is no longer under contract with the UFC. Recently, he was removed from the official UFC rankings list without explanation, and reportedly the promotion let him go because he turned down a fight.
According to his potential opponent, Willis was offered a fight against Walt Harris at UFC on ESPN 4 in San Antonio, Texas, and declined because he might not be able to make weight in time. On the MMA Roasted Podcast on Thursday, Harris said, "He had a chance to fight me on July 20, they offered him the contract and he told them he couldn’t make weight in two months…and so they cut him."
Willis has had trouble making weight in the past, as he was slated to face Marcin Tybura at UFC 208 in 2017 but was not medically cleared. In his statement on his Facebook page that day, he said, "Hey everyone, I want you to hear from me first, I did everything I could to make weight for the fight this weekend but due to the short notice my body shut down during the weight cut and the UFC doctors wouldn't clear me to fight."
Willis suffered his first loss inside the Octagon last March, losing the first decision of his career to Curtis Blaydes at UFC Fight Night 148. His four previous UFC outings had all gone his way, with "Big Pretty" emerging victorious against James Mulheron, Allen Crowder, Chase Sherman and Mark Hunt.
Following the announcement of his release, Willis spoke with MMA Junkie to dispute that he was released by the promotion. In his interview, he said, "It was a big miscommunication and a technical difficulty between me and the UFC. I'll put it like that. But everything has been worked out, and you will have a fight in the near future."