Another week, another event. After doing these for a few months now, it's becoming easier for me to see how the UFC balances their cards. It should be a shock to approximately no one that PPV's and Fox shows feature the most talent, but I'm surprised at how much it translates to recent records. For instance, I had no one in the "likely to be cut" category for UFC on Fox 7, because almost everyone on the card had won their last fight. UFC 159 wasn't quite at that level, but this event is close - only five fighters on this card lost their last bout, and only two are on multiple-fight losing streaks.
With that in mind, here we go.
Likely to be cut with a loss
K.J. Noons - We all know that Noons was robbed in his last Strikeforce bout against Ryan Couture. But the facts about Noons are clear - he has lost four out of his last five fights, and his salary is high for a lightweight. He was paid 35k to show and 30k more to win when he beat Billy Evangelista (his last victory), and made 38k and 41k to show respectively in losses to Josh Thomson and Couture. His exciting style won't be enough to keep him around if he loses to Cerrone.
Jeremy Stephens - It's a miracle he's still on the roster to be honest. Three straight losses and pending assault charges (which go to trial on July 8th) that caused a huge amount of drama for the UFC when he was arrested the day of one his fights. He also makes at least 24k/24k. A drop to featherweight might be the only reason he was given another chance, and a loss to a UFC newcomer would spell the end of Lil Heathen's UFC career.
Estevan Payan - He only fought twice in Strikeforce, so he wasn't a major part of the crossover. He did win both bouts, but he has now dropped to featherweight (which is getting increasingly crowded), and isn't likely to be a contender there. He's probably a one-and-done unless he puts on an incredible fight with Stephens.
Possibly cut with a loss
Brian Bowles - Bowles is in a really weird position - he hasn't fought since Reagan was president and no one knows where he stands anymore. He's a former WEC champion, but he's now approaching 33 and has had problems with injuries. If he's still on the same contract, money could maybe be a major factor in the decision (he made 19k to lose to Faber back in 1867), but he is 2-1 in the UFC. Frankly, he's only on this list because of the unknown factor. If he got knocked out by Roop, I wouldn't be shocked if he got cut. I'm not exactly betting on it though.
George Roop - He saved himself from extinction by beating Reuben Duran at UFC 158, but he's not off the hot seat yet. Roop is still only 2-3 in the UFC, though he's 1-0 at 135. If they base their decisions on overall UFC records, he might go if he gets finished. If they're willing to look at his work strictly at 135, he'll get another fight even if Bowles dusts him.
Stephen Thompson - Thompson came in with some hype and delivered against sitting duck Stittgen, but Matt Brown (BE 2012 Fighter of the Year!) brought him back to earth in a big way. He has taken a year away from fighting to improve, and now faces late replacement Burrell instead of Sadollah. Would two losses in a row be enough for the UFC to drop him? I'd lean towards yes.
Likely safe regardless of the outcome
Cain Velasquez, Antonio Silva, Junior dos Santos, and Mark Hunt - These are four of the top 10 heavyweights in the world, which just happens to be the shallowest division in MMA. There would have to be some crazy shenanigans taking place for the organization to even consider it.
Glover Teixeira and James Te Huna - Glover and Te Huna are a step below untouchable, but let's face it - Teixeira might be a title challenger with a couple more wins and Te Huna is 5-1 in the UFC. They're not going anywhere.
Gray Maynard and T.J. Grant - This is a number one contender's bout for a shot at the lightweight title. They're a combined 13-1-1 (1 NC) at lightweight. The loser is still a contender, so he's going to stick around.
Donald Cerrone - Despite falling off mountains and owning a bull named "Don't Tell Dana", Cerrone's in no danger of being released. Besides stating that his "wild man days are over" after the fall, he's still a top-flight lightweight with a 6-2 record in the UFC. He's one of the few guys on the roster that has nothing to worry about even if he loses a couple in a row.
Mike Pyle and Rick Story - I actually considered Story as a possible cut again because a loss would drop him to 2-4 in his last 6, but he did the UFC a favor by taking this as a late replacement, and Pyle's no joke (7-3 in the UFC, won 3 in a row). He'll get another chance if he loses.
Colton Smith vs. Robert Whittaker - TUF winners. Enough said.
Dennis Bermudez and Max Holloway - Both men rebounded from losses in their UFC debut to win three in a row heading into this fight. Both men are coming off of debatable decisions, but they were both entertaining fights as well. This is really good matchmaking, and the loser stays.
Khabib Nurmagomedov and Abel Trujillo - Unlike the last fight this type of matchmaking confuses me. Nurmy is 3-0 in the UFC and has looked tremendous, while Trujillo has a lone win over Marcus LeVesseur. Even if Trujillo loses, he'll be given another shot though. And Nurmagomedov isn't going anywhere.
Nah-Shon Burrell - I was on the fence with Burrell as well. While he won his last fight, he badly missed weight. He was smart enough to step up on late notice to take a fight with Thompson though and as long as he makes weight and doesn't get destroyed, he should be good for at least one more UFC bout.