The first event on Fox Sports 1 is this weekend in Boston, and it's one of the best free cards the UFC has ever put out there. Whether you call it UFC Fight Night 26, UFC Fight Night: Shogun vs. Sonnen, or something else, I'm just going to stick to calling it awesome. Because it is. Only eight of the 26 fighters on the card are coming off a loss, four of which are on the main card. Just two fighters are on multi-fight losing streaks, and one of them is virtually untouchable either way.
Honestly, there's not a lot of fat that can be trimmed from this card, so the first two categories are going to be a bit bare. But that's probably a good thing. Without further ado, let's get to it.
Likely to be cut with a loss
Michael Johnson - His UFC run has been a roller coaster. It peaked with wins over Tony Ferguson and Danny Castillo, but two consecutive losses have him on the ropes. He seems to have regressed a bit lately, and he's going to have his hands full with Lauzon. A third straight loss will probably mean the door.
John Howard - He's in on late notice at middleweight against Hall. He says he feels better at 185, but he's 5'7. His last UFC run saw him lose three straight at welterweight in 2010-2011. He's gone 6-1 since then, but the UFC hasn't been as charitable about giving late replacements another fight lately. I think Howard might be one of those one-and-done guys if he loses.
Possibly cut with a loss
Daniel Pineda - He's 3-2 in the UFC right now and only one fight has gone to decision. He won his last fight too. It's somewhat unlikely that they bounce him here with a loss, but I wouldn't be surprised at all.
Manny Gamburyan - Yes, he won his last fight. But that was a year ago, and it improved his UFC record to 1-2 on this run (and he lost his last WEC bout too). Since that win, he has pulled out of two straight fights citing injury, which brings his number of UFC withdrawals to four - the same as his number of fights if he makes it to the octagon Saturday night. He's a decent talent, but is he really worth keeping if he isn't winning enough and you can't rely on him to keep a fight booking?
Cole Miller - Miller saved his UFC career by finishing Bart Palaszewski in his last bout, and he's well-liked by UFC brass. But a loss would drop him to 1-3 at featherweight, which makes it tough to justify keeping him around. I think he's a lot more likely to stay off a loss than Gamburyan would be, but I'd still be worried if I was him.
Ramsey Nijem - He's 3-2 in the UFC, but lost his last bout to Myles Jury. He has a presence from TUF, but being a lightweight in the UFC with two straight losses doesn't offer you a lot of job security. Just ask Tim Means (though he missed weight in his last bout).
James Vick - A ridiculously tall lightweight that hasn't fought since he made the semis on TUF 15. Could he be a one-and-done? I think there's a definite possibilty.
Likely safe regardless of the outcome
Mauricio Rua - While his UFC career has been up and down, he's still a former champion and in the main event for a reason. He's a top-10 LHW and until someone can prove he's truly over the hill (at 31?), he's going nowhere.
Chael Sonnen - He has lost two fights in a row. But he's still one of the most popular fighters in the company and has stated he's going back to 185 after the fight. Let's face it, Chael will have a job in the UFC for as long as he wants. That might not please everyone, but it's the truth.
Alistair Overeem - Bigfoot knocked him silly, and a loss to Browne would mean he's 1-2 in the UFC. And he has a huge salary to boot. But he's not getting cut after two fights, especially with all the image rehabbing he did with NSAC and the UFC. They know they can still get more out of him even if he comes up short here.
Travis Browne - A loss to Overeem would be a serious dent in his title hopes, but it's certainly not going to cost him his job.
Urijah Faber and Yuri Alcantara - There was brief talk before the Menjivar fight about the UFC possibly cutting Faber with a loss, but it just seemed to be promoter motivation more than anything. Faber's a cornerstone of the lighter weights and has stepped up continually when the UFC has needed him. Plus, he's the best bantamweight in the world without a belt. Alcantara is being pushed quickly at BW and while a loss to Faber would end his ascent, he'll still be in a decent spot if it happened.
Uriah Hall - He's sort of like a mini-Overeem in a way - so much hype. Even if there aren't any results and he drops to 0-2, he'll still get another shot because of what he did on TUF and how popular he seems to be.
Joe Lauzon - Bonus machine. Super popular. Relatively cheap. I don't need to defend Joe - go watch a highlight video. You'll see why he's UFC for life.
Brad Pickett and Michael McDonald - Both are top five bantamweights in a thin division. Pickett is one of Dana's favorite fighters. McDonald was the youngest title challenger in UFC history. They're both going to be employed for a long time.
Conor McGregor and Max Holloway - There is ridiculous hype behind McGregor, and Holloway has carved out a solid spot on the roster. This is his sixth UFC fight and he's 21! They're the new breed of featherweight, and they're not going to be released.
Mike Brown and Steven Siler - Brown considered retirement last time out, then re-signed. He's probably not making a title run, but he has won two in a row and the UFC will keep him around as long as he wants to fight. Siler has proven to be a durable guy off of TUF who is now 4-1 in the promotion. A loss isn't going to be a major setback for him.
Diego Brandao - TUF winner, 3-1 in the UFC thus far. Learning to pace himself better early. A loss to Pineda wouldn't look good, but he'd get another shot.
Cody Donovan and Ovince St. Preux - Both are 1-0 in the UFC in a relatively thin division. I don't think the UFC would consider dumping light heavyweights after one loss like they would at the lighter weights.