Most of us know by now that the UFC is in the midst of a big fighter purge. Dana White has stated that the organization will need to cut up to 100 fighters in the next few months, which makes every fight that much more important for the contestants. With that in mind, similar to the past few events, I'm going to go through the list of fighters scheduled for The Ultimate Fighter 17 Finale and assess whether they should fear for their jobs with a loss on Saturday night in Vegas.
Likely to be cut with a loss
The entire midcard - Every TUF 17 contestant outside of the finals is probably getting the axe with a loss. It was a curious decision to put Bubba McDaniel vs. Gilbert Smith on the main card, but even the loser of that isn't safe without putting on an amazing effort. So McDaniel, Smith, Josh Samman, Kevin Casey, Jimmy Quinlan, Dylan Andrews, Luke Barnatt, Collin Hart, and Clint Hester - you better win.
Bristol Marunde - He's actually from TUF 16, but never got an official fight in the UFC. He's replacing TUF 17 contestant Zak Cummings, who is injured. Marunde was only a quarter-finalist on TUF 16 and didn't exactly stand out. Frankly, he's lucky to be getting this chance and he has to win to stay.
Bart Palaszewski - Bartimus comes into his bout with Miller on a two-fight losing streak just like his opponent. But he doesn't have seven UFC wins to fall back on like Miller does - he has but one. And he was only 4-3 in the WEC before that. A third straight loss would mean he's probably drawing dead in terms of getting another fight.
Daniel Pineda - He looked excellent in his first two UFC fights, but a decision loss to Mike Brown and a 71-second knockout loss to Antonio Carvalho have really slowed down his momentum. A loss to Lawrence would be his third straight and would likely mean the door. He's the type of guy that I definitely could see getting a second run with some wins outside the organization though.
Maximo Blanco - Oh, Blanco. You came over to North America with such promise, and now you're just fighting for your job. A loss to Pat Healy in Strikeforce and a dreadful fight with Marcus Brimage have relieved Blanco of any hype whatsoever. He will have gone over a year without a fight, and a loss to a TUF guy would pretty much seal his fate.
Possibly cut with a loss
Cole Miller - It's strange how everyone and their dog said that Cole Miller would be a big benefactor from the UFC/WEC merger because he could finally go down to 145. And once he did...he couldn't win a fight there. Losses to Steven Siler and Nam Phan have completely buried him, and a third straight loss might mean that he's on his way out. Though, like I said above, he has the resume (7 wins, five performance bonuses) to probably earn him one more shot if he does lose.
Justin Lawrence - Lawrence has an exciting style, visibility from TUF (with the small contract to go with it), and he's 1-1 in the organization. Unless he gets completely blown out by Pineda, I imagine they'd give him another shot against an exciting striker.
Sam Sicilia - He's in almost exactly the same boat as Lawrence. In fact, if they both lose, they should match them up in a loser leaves town fight. This isn't even the fights to make post and I'm making fights. I've got to get my priorities straight here.
Likely safe regardless of the outcome
Urijah Faber and Scott Jorgensen - They're both top-10 bantamweights. There was a little bit of talk about Faber maybe getting released with a loss before the Menjivar fight, but he won that handily. There's almost no chance of either man getting cut now, especially since they took this fight on semi-short notice.
Kelvin Gastelum and Uriah Hall - TUF finalists almost always get at least one more fight even if they lose. In fact, I can't think of a single TUF finalist to only get one fight in the UFC (except Jesse Taylor). Anyone? I think Colin Fletcher only getting two was even unusual. The only other guy I can remember that only got two fights as a finalist was Tommy Speer. Anyway, tangent over. Expect them both to stick around.
Travis Browne and Gabriel Gonzaga - Browne is still one of the brightest prospects at HW despite his loss to Antonio Silva. And Gonzaga's won two in a row since his return to the UFC. They're both upper-echelon guys in a super-weak division, so their services will still be required regardless of the outcome.