Though it may be lacking somewhat in name value, Saturday’s UFN – Machida vs. Dollaway does offer some interesting opportunities when it comes to talent development: surging fighters Dollaway and Gagnon take big steps up in competition; Magomedov and Silverio square off to see who suffers their first UFC loss; TUF: Brazil 3 winter Antonio Carlos Jr. takes on Patrick Cummins in a bout where Carlos Jr.’s undefeated record and Cummins’s opportunity to move on to name opponents are both at stake. Plus, you wouldn’t want to be out of the loop when everyone’s raging about the live Brazilian audience, right?
Likely Cut With a Loss
Mike Rhodes (6-3, 0-2 UFC) – I’m tempted to mark him as only possibly cut because he’s stepped up and taken a role in what is obviously meant as a showcase fight for local favorite Erick Silva, but ultimately I’m sticking with conventional wisdom.
Igor Pokrajac (25-11-1NC, 4-6-1NC UFC) – he was looking like a solid gatekeeper for a while there, but now four bouts and two-and-a-half years stand between him and his latest victory.
Tom Niinimaki (21-7, 1-2 UFC) – he started off his career with a bang, taking a split-decision from submission artist Rani Yahya, but has somewhat ironically been submitted in his two outings since. Not sure where else there is for him to go with another loss.
Possibly Cut With a Loss
Daniel Sarafian (8-5, 1-3 UFC) – Sarafian’s been a little more competitive than his record would have you believe. The “split” part of his split-decision loss to C.B. Dollaway is probably a little generous, but he arguably won his fight with Cezar Ferreira. A 1-4 run in the Octagon would look pretty bad, but his go-for-broke style might endear him enough to the UFC to keep him around for another card in Brazil.
Hacran Dias (21-3-1, 1-2 UFC) – You can’t ignore three straight losses (even if they were to come against Ricardo Lamas, Nik Lentz, and Elkins, his opponent this Saturday). However, because Dias has faced high-level opposition throughout his UFC career, I think it’s possible that with defeat on Saturday, the UFC gives him lower-level competition rather than cutting him entirely.
Likely Safe Regardless of Outcome
Jake Collier (8-1-0), Antonio dos Santos, Jr. (6-1-0) Renato Carneiro (8-0-1) – the night’s debuting fighters.
Vitor Miranda (9-4, 0-1 UFC), Marcio Alexandre, Jr. (12-1, 0-1 UFC) – runners-up from TUF: Brazil 3. The UFC still occasionally cuts guys after an 0-2 start, but these two probably stick around for future Brazil cards.
Yuta Sasaki (18-1-2, 1-0 UFC), Marcos Rogerio de Lima (12-2-1, 1-0 UFC), Elias Silverio (11-0, 3-0 UFC) Rashid Magomedov (17-1, 2-0 UFC), Antonio Carlos, Jr. (4-0, 1-0 UFC) – those fighters so far undefeated in the UFC, with Sasaki, Magomedov, and Silverio in particular having generated a bit of buzz for themselves.
Tim Means (21-6-1, 3-3 UFC), Leandro Issa (12-4, 1-1 UFC), Darren Elkins (18-4, 8-3 UFC), Erick Silva (16-5, 4-4 UFC), Patrick Cummins (6-1, 2-1 FC) – so far in his UFC career, Silva has only beaten fighters who were debuting in the UFC or who were destined for lengthy losing streaks. Hard to argue with that “wow” factor, though.
Mitch Gagnon (12-2, 4-1 UFC), Renan Barao (32-2-1NC, 7-1 UFC), C.B. Dollaway (15-5, 9-5 UFC), Lyoto Machida (21-5, 13-5 UFC) – as a middleweight with a lot of momentum behind him who is nevertheless expected to lose, Dollaway is in sort of a great position. Yet, stylistically, you gotta figure he’s the perfect mark for Machida’s sleight of fist.
Most High-Risk Fight: neither is at risk of being cut, but in Silverio vs. Magomedov we have two lightweights who do stand to really distinguish themselves with victory this weekend. One lightweight keeps his UFC record unblemished and moves on to bigger game, while the other likely slips back to the undercard.
Best Nickname: Brodinho, which I assume means “Little Bruh.”
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