Given how many of Saturday’s fighters are coming in off a victory, a relative few seem likely to be facing release from the UFC. For one of the night’s competitors, though, there is the lurking question of retirement…
Likely Cut with a Loss
Andy Ogle (9-5, 1-4 UFC) – I’m surprised Ogle was kept on the roster past a third straight loss. I very much doubt they’d allow for a fourth.
Possibly Cut with a Loss
Akira Corassani (12-5-1NC, 3-2 UFC) – Corassani’s rep as an action fighter would normally stand him another go in the UFC past a third loss no problem (after all, they did it for the aforementioned Ogle). However, that Corassani’s lost twice in a row by (T)KO complicates things a bit. If he gets his lights shut off for a third straight time, the 32-year-old featherweight might see his time with the UFC come to a close.
For a look at just how the fighters on the brink of termination are expected to do, check out the latest MMA Vivisection of UFC on Fox: Gustafsson vs. Johnson with Dallas, Connor, and Zane:
Likely Safe Regardless of Outcome
Viktor Pesta (9-1-0, 0-1 UFC), Stanislav Nedkov (10-1-1NC, 1-1-1NC UFC) – both Pesta and Nedkov need a strong showing badly, lest they find themselves relegated to the undercard of a Fight Pass show hosted in outer Mongolia, but I think both would be kept around despite a loss. Pesta is a young heavyweight who favors the finish, while Nedkov, (who’d be facing a third straight loss if it weren’t for some classic Thiago Silva shenanigans that led to a no-contest) is a hyper-aggressive slugger in a developing light-heavyweight division.
Paul Redmond (10-4-0) , Konstantin Erokhin (9-1-0), Anthony Christodoulou (12-4-0), Makwan Amirkhani (10-2-0), Sultan Aliev (13-1-0) – out of all the debuting fighters Saturday, I’m most interested in Erokhin, if for no other reason other than that I enjoyed watching his march to the UFC throughout last year, and heavyweight talent is always nice. In regards to the latter, though, odds are I’m setting myself up for total demoralization.
Mirsad Bektic (8-0, 1-0 UFC), Chris Beal (10-0, 2-0 UFC) – a 2-0 UFC record, a highlight-reel knockout, and still winding up as the opener on Fight Pass seems like kind of a raw deal for Chris Beal.
Neil Seery (14-10, 1-1 UFC), Mairbek Taisumov (22-5, 2-1 UFC), Nikita Krylov (17-4, 2-2 UFC), Kenny Robertson (14-3, 3-3 UFC), Albert Tumenov (13-2, 2-1 UFC), Nicholas Musoke (13-3-1NC, 3-1 UFC) Sam Sicilia (13-5, 3-4 UFC) – mixed records for these guys, all of whom are coming off wins except for Sicilia, whose style will nevertheless buy him more time in the Octagon.
Ryan Bader (18-4, 11-4 UFC), Phil Davis (13-2-1NC, 9-2-1NC UFC) – a pair of would-be contenders that seem to have slipped to the edges of the title picture, due to either unconvincing performances or embarrassing upset losses. Either of these guys stand to gain a lot from beating the other at this point. Bader finds himself on a three-fight win streak for the first time in over four years, and Davis, who I thought looked surprisingly solid on his feet against Anthony Johnson, is coming off a unanimous decision victory over former contender Glover Teixeira.
Dan Henderson (30-12, 7-6 UFC), Gegard Mousasi (35-5-2, 2-2 UFC), Anthony Johnson (18-4, 9-4 UFC), Alexander Gustafsson (16-2, 8-2 UFC) – “safe” is a tricky term when it comes to Dan Henderson. I doubt that they’d cut the fan-favorite, but after a 2-4 run with the UFC coming after nearly twenty years in MMA, Henderson could be one loss away from retirement. He turned in predictable but fair performances against Lyoto Machida and Rashad Evans to open his third UFC campaign in 2013, but things have gone downhill pretty fast since then. You can’t really hold a loss to Cormier against anybody, but Henderson looked pretty shaky against generational peers Vitor Belfort and Mauricio Rua, even if he did wind up winning that fight with Shogun. Despite all that, and given his comments about title-runs, I think there’s a similarly good chance that Henderson will want to stick around for one more fight beyond a loss to Mousasi.
Most High-Risk Fight: nothing in the way of a loser-leaves-town match, I don’t think. Obviously, Andy Ogle will stand to lose a lot when he steps in the cage with the debuting Amirkhani, though, and the loser coming out of Sicilia vs. Corassani will really be driven down the rankings.
Best Nickname: “Rumble” and “Mauler” manage to be classic and to-the-point while at the same time being unique. Rumble Johnson has a better ring to it than Mauler Gustafsson, so there you go. Maybe next time, “Darth” Bader.
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