UFC on FX 8: Belfort vs. Rockhold - The Cut List

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

A few fighters will need a win to stay in the UFC on Saturday night in Brazil. Who are they?

It's been a few weeks since an event, but we're back this week with UFC on FX 8 in Brazil. The card has suffered through many injuries and replacements, and looks a lot different than the original card when it was announced a couple of months ago. That makes these things a little trickier, since the UFC usually tries to give late-notice debuting fighters a second chance if we'll lose. Nonetheless, let's get to it.

If you don't know how these work by now, it's pretty simple. I'll take every fighter on the card and divide them into three categories - "likely to be cut with a loss", "possibly cut with a loss", and "likely safe regardless of the outcome". If you'd like to see how accurate I've been over the last six events, check out this update. If not, let's get onto this Saturday's event.

Likely to be cut with a loss

Paulo Thiago - Thiago has a great story, being a BOPE officer and all that. And he has faced some stiff competition throughout his UFC career. But the fact is that he has lost four out of his last five, and his last two straight. His only win in the last three years came over David Mitchell. He always comes to fight and would probably be one of the first welterweights the company brought back in if needed, but he's a goner if he loses to late replacement Prazeres.

Fabio Maldonado - The guy always brings it. You know that when you're going to watch a Fabio Maldonado fight, it'll probably be entertaining. But the simple fact is that he has lost three fights in a row and has a single win in the UFC thus far. A fourth straight loss, especially to a lower-level guy like Hollett, would spell doom for him.

Roger Hollett - I was never really sure why they brought him in originally, especially having to deal with his Bellator contract. He lost to Matt Hamill in his debut and didn't look good in the fight. A second straight loss would probably show the UFC that he's not worth keeping around.

Jeremy Larsen - I had assumed he got cut after his TUF 15 Finale loss, but apparently not. He's been dealing with injuries and has been given another shot. Well here it is, and if he loses he's probably looking at another run in the regionals.

Lucas Martins - Mineiro was given a huge challenge in his first UFC fight when he met Edson Barboza on just 17 days notice. He came up short, but was given a much more winnable fight against Larsen this time out. Frankly, I don't think he'll lose. But if he does, they'll probably send him back out to get a couple of wins before he gets a third shot in the octagon.

Possibly cut with a loss

John Cholish - Normally I wouldn't think a guy with a 1-1 record should be at risk, but Cholish might in some trouble if he loses to Tibau. That'd be his second loss in a row, and he's a lightweight. Those two things might work against him if he doesn't put in a good performance.

Gleison Tibau - I know this is kind of odd, but hear me out. Tibau has been in the UFC since late 2006 and this is his twentieth UFC fight (he's 12-7 overall). But he has lost two out of his last three, and a loss here would mean three out of four. Not that big of a deal for a vet facing good competition. But the biggest problem is his salary. He makes 33k/33k, which is really high for a lightweight out of title contention. And let's face it, he's not going to make his way back into the title picture anytime soon. A loss to Cholish would be very damaging and might see him end up on the outside looking in.

Jussier Formiga - A loss to Cariaso would drop him to 0-2 in the organization. Being that he's a flyweight and still a tough out though, so I think they'd give him at least one more fight. But you never know.

Azamat Gashimov - Gashimov lost his first bout at 135, and is now down at flyweight. He doesn't have the luxury of being a top guy like Formiga, and he could very well be ushered out of the organization with a loss to Lineker. The small 125-pound roster might be his only saving grace.

Likely safe regardless of the outcome

Vitor Belfort and Luke Rockhold - Normally Strikeforce fighters are higher on this list, But Rockhold's one of their champs and he's going to get a few UFC fights no matter what. And Belfort is a mainstay. This is a top contender's bout - I'm not exactly being Nostradamus by predicting that these two live to see another day.

Ronaldo Souza - Jacare already took out a legit UFC fighter (Ed Herman) on the final Strikeforce card, so this is less of a "debut" that most guys are having. A loss to Camozzi would be a shock, and a lot of his salary is guaranteed (he got 72.5k to show and 28k to win against Herman), but Souza will almost definitely stick around for a while.

Chris Camozzi - He stepped in late to take on Cezar Ferreira, and a flurry of changes now how him meeting Jacare. 6-2 in the UFC, taking any fight offered to him....yeah, that doesn't sound like a guy on the chopping block to me at all.

Rafael dos Anjos and Evan Dunham - Two top-20 guys engaging in what is the early favorite for fight of the night. Both always bring it and combine for a 14-7 record in the UFC. The loser will be staying, and the winner might get a top 10 opponent next.

Hacran Dias - Right now, Dias looks to be the organization's top prospect at featherweight. Consider this - he was booked against Chad Mendes and Manny Gamburyan before this (he pulled out of the Mendes fight due to late injury, this time Gamburyan backed out). He now faces Lentz, who used his grinding style to take out Diego Nunes last time. A loss will definitely hurt his stock, but it won't cost him his position in the company.

Nik Lentz - I was tempted to put Lentz in the possibly category due to his mini-Fitch style. But let's face it - he's 2-0 as a featherweight and totally dominated Nunes in his last fight. He's 7-3-1 (1 NC) in 12 UFC fights, and is taking this on short notice against a very tough customer. Could he be cut someday for his style? Sure. But it won't be after this fight.

Interesting note on Lentz - his last five fights have all come in places where salaries aren't reported, and that will continue here. His last reported salary was way back at UFC Fight Night 24 in March 2011, where he made 15k/15k.

Rafael Natal - Sapo's a strange case. He's 3-2-1 in the UFC, and would be 4-1-1 if he had better fight IQ. He's not exactly championship material, but he's a good challenge for anyone coming in. After all the changes he's still on the main card and he should be able to get a W against a guy who suits his style well. Even if he doesn't, he'll probably stick around since he won his last fight.

Francisco Trinaldo and Mike Rio - Both TUF guys, both won their last bouts. It's still hard to believe Trinaldo competed at middleweight on TUF Brazil. Anyway, the loser of this will get a chance to redeem himself.

Michel Prazeres, Joao Zeferino, Iliarde Santos - All three of these guys are in the same boat - late replacement debuts. They're all on long win streaks and enter the UFC with impressive records. In other words, all three will get a second fight on a future Brazilian card for helping out if they lose.

Yuri Alcantara - It'd be a shock to see him lose, but he has the potential to challenge for the BW title one day in my eyes. A loss would be a huge setback, but it wouldn't lead to his release.

Chris Cariaso - The guy he lost to last time is now challenging for the flyweight title. In such a shallow division, you're not far from the top or the bottom. Two losses in a row would be bad for Cariaso but unlike Formiga, he has a UFC flyweight win under his belt and was 3-1 at 135 before the drop. He'll be given another chance regardless of the outcome.

John Lineker - He won his last bout, he's a flyweight, and his loss to Gaudinot came after some weird stuff happened to him before the fight. I think they will give him one more shot if he drops his bout with Gashimov.

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