Saturday's UFC 184 out of Los Angeles seems much diminished following the loss of Chris Weidman's title defense against Vitor Belfort and a potential title eliminator between Jacare Souza and Yoel Romero. However, the card still has some significant historical value for MMA sophisticates such as you and me:--it's the first UFC event that features a women's division in both main and co-main event spots, and it may well serve as the last stand for a pair of long-time fan-favorites...
Most Likely Cut With a Loss
Alexander Torres (2-1-0), Masio Fullen (9-4-0) - both were finished in TUF: Latin America's opening round of fights, which probably makes this a loser-leaves-town situation.
Ruan Potts (8-3, 0-2 UFC) - Potts is, I think, the third South African fighter to compete in the UFC, preceded by Trevor Prangley and Mark David Robinson, who was knocked out by Bobby Hoffman at UFC 30.
Norifumi Yamamoto (18-6, 0-3 UFC) - "Kid" hasn't won a fight since a 2010 knockout of Team Quest rep Federico Lopez (who was 4-2 at the time, and is 10-5 now), and he hasn't beaten a name opponent since a 2007 TKO of Rani Yahya. If Yamamoto were to continue his career past a loss, it would most likely be as a showcase fighter on the Japanese circuit.
Jake Ellenberger (22-9, 8-5 UFC) - fun fact: some time ago I was working on a since-scrapped post that listed possible contenders for GSP's title, which highlighted Ellenberger, Rick Story, Dong Hyun Kim, and, as a sort of wildcard, Matt Riddle. Between 2010 and 2012 Ellenberger made a big fan of me as he cut a fabulous swath of destruction through the welterweight division, but he's looked tentative and vulnerable lately. A fourth consecutive loss would likely have him retooling his career outside the Octagon.
Josh Koscheck (17-8, 15-8 UFC) - like opponent Ellenberger, Koscheck has lost three in a row. Also like Ellenerger, it's the only losing streak of his career and it will likely prove fatal to his fighting life. It's unlikely that he'd will be cut, technically speaking, but now nearly 40 and having suffered two first-round (T)KOs in a row, I think he'd be pushed into retirement with a fourth consecutive loss (this despite his insistence last May that he wants to fight through the two bouts remaining on his contract).
Possibly Cut With a Loss
Valmir Lazaro (12-3, 0-1), Roman Salazar (9-3, 0-1 UFC) - both have been given stiff opposition despite losing performances, which means either, one, that they'll get another shot in repayment for their gameness or, two, that the UFC is already disinterested and is looking to use them as fodder for someone else.
Mark Munoz (13-5, 8-5) - to be honest, I'm not sure why Munoz has become the posterboy for the forced-retirement contingent. He lost badly to Mousasi, Machida, and Weidman, but there are plenty of middleweights who would have to own up to the same, and anyone who fought those three within the same four-fight stretch would likely come away looking ineffective. Taking a step back to fight someone like Roan Carneiro is a sensible move.
Likely Safe Regardless of Outcome
Roan Carneiro (19-9, 2-3 UFC) - six and a half years after his release, Carneiro returns for a second UFC campaign. He's 7-1 since he was last in the UFC and enters the cage Saturday on the strength of a five-fight win streak, which includes a one-night, eight-man tournament victory.
Richard Walsh (8-2, 1-1), James Krause (21-6, 2-2 UFC), Derrick Lewis (11-3, 2-1 UFC), Alan Jouban (10-3, 1-1) - each of these guys is risking a second consecutive loss but reliably entertaining styles are likely to keep them fighting in the Octagon.
Dhiego Lima (10-2, 1-1 UFC), Tim Means (22-6-1, 4-3 UFC), Gleison Tibau (33-10, 16-8 UFC), Tony Ferguson (17-3, 7-1 UFC) - fringe contender Ferguson puts a four-fight win streak on the line against each other in a late-notice opponent Tibau, who's enjoying the third three-fight win streak of his UFC career. For either, this weekend offers a chance for a break-out performance.
Raquel Pennington (5-4, 2-1 UFC), Holly Holm (7-0-0), Cat Zingano (9-0, 2-0 UFC), Ronda Rousey (10-0, 4-0 UFC) - it's possible that they fast-track Holm to a title shot if she wins, especially given some decent exposure in the co-main spot. I'm a big fan of tournaments (implicit or otherwise) as a means of lending oomph to otherwise unconvincing challengers, and I wouldn't mind seeing one between the winner of Pennington/Holm, Bethe Correira, Marion Reneau, and Miesha Tate.
Best Nickname: lot of good ones this weekend...The Juggernaut, Dirty Bird, "The" James Krause, Kos (well, maybe not that last one), but "Rowdy" has a nice, classic feel to it and suits Rousey's fighting style well, wouldn't you agree?
Most High-Risk Bout: Koscheck vs. Ellenberger.