The UFC's first live show in Manila promises to be a good one, showcasing a few of the sport's top fighters along with several of Asia's most notable talents. They even brought Philipp Nover back! This week's edition of The Cut List seems fairly clear-cut, with several fighters on the prelims at risk of losing their roster spots while the bulk of the main card is surely safe to fight on. We even know the fate of "The Filipino Wrecking Machine" as he approaches his swan song on Saturday.
Future already known
Mark Munoz (13-6 MMA, 8-6 UFC). He says he's retiring after his fight with Luke Barnatt and while some fighters will always have the itch to come back, I'm pretty comfortable in saying that he's going to stick to his word and hang up the gloves.
Likely cut with a loss
Nolan Ticman (4-2 MMA, 0-1 UFC), Yao Zhikui (1-2 MMA, 0-1 UFC). These two flyweights are opening the preliminary card and there's very little reason to believe the loser gets another appearance in the UFC on an 0-2 run. This is especially the case for the sub-.500 record holding Zhikui.
Jon Delos Reyes (7-4 MMA, 0-2 UFC), Roldan Sangcha-an (4-1 MMA, 0-1 UFC). Once again, two more flyweights without a UFC win. Reyes has been stopped in both of his fights, although one of them was to the dangerous Kyoji Horiguchi, while the Philippines' Sangcha-an dropped a decision to Richie Vaculik. The story here shouldn't be any different from Ticman vs. Zhikui.
Kajan Johnson (19-11-1 MMA, 0-1 UFC). It's been a rough time for Kajan, having been viciously KO'd on TUF Nations last year and then KO'd again by Tae Hyun Bang last June. He's up against Zhang Lipeng, who fortunately isn't known for his KO abilities, but another defeat for the Canadian likely sends him packing.
Possibly cut with a loss
Luke Barnatt (8-2 MMA, 3-2 UFC). Chances are pretty good he'll stay on board considering he's just 27 years old and his losses have been by split decision, but three defeats in a row normally puts you on a wobbly path unless you're an established contender. At worst, he may get cut on the assumption he'll be brought back after a couple of wins, otherwise even with a loss to the retiring Munoz he's likely going to get another UFC fight.
Jon Tuck (8-2 MMA, 2-2 UFC). "Super Saiyan" hasn't been consistent inside the Octagon, with wins coming against men who are no longer in the UFC (Zhang Tiequan and Jake Lindsey) while losing pretty easily to more talented lightweights (Norman Parke and Kevin Lee). Given the UFC's market push in Asia he'll probably get another crack regardless of his performance vs. Tae Hyun Bang, but he's probably not valuable enough to be completely guaranteed safety.
Dhiego Lima (10-3 MMA, 1-2 UFC). The TUF 19 runner-up has been disappointing. He's been finished in the 1st round in both of his defeats and his only win is a decision over the entirely one-dimensional Jorge de Oliveira. TUF 19 has been an unmitigated disaster but Lima may get a lifeline by taking this fight with Li Jingliang on short notice. Otherwise, 1-3 is hard to gloss over given how he's performed.
Likely safe regardless of outcome
Gegard Mousasi (36-5-2 MMA, 3-2 UFC), Costas Philippou (13-4, 1 NC MMA; 6-3 UFC), Hyun Gyu Lim (13-4-1 MMA, 3-1 UFC), Neil Magny (14-3 MMA, 7-2 UFC), Philippe Nover (10-5-1, 0-3 UFC), Yui Chul Nam (18-4-1 MMA, 1-0 UFC). Everyone here is on the main card and coming off a win, including Mr. Nover, who has strung together a 3 fight winning streak to get an Octagon return and a spot on the main card in front of his home fans. Mousasi, Philippou, and Magny are all ranked fighters, at the moment.
Levan Makashvili (6-1 MMA, 0-0 UFC). On the 2nd attempt after his 1st one was cancelled at the 11th hour, Levan Makashvili is making his UFC debut and he's the only one on this card who can make that claim.
Royston Wee (4-0 MMA, 2-0 UFC), Ning Guangyou (4-2-1 MMA, 1-0 UFC), Tae Hyun Bang (17-8 MMA, 1-1 UFC). These are the only preliminary carders coming off wins. Wee is undefeated (however controversial the Zhikui win may be), Guangyou is a TUF China winner, and Bang is pretty entertaining and coming off a vicious KO of Kajan Johnson.
Mark Eddiva (6-1 MMA, 1-1 UFC), Zhang Lipeng (9-8-1 MMA, 2-2 UFC), Li Jingliang (9-3 MMA, 1-1 UFC). Three UFC combatants on the prelims who lost their last respective bouts but did initially make successful debuts. China's Lipeng actually won his first two before losing to Chris Wade. They'll all stay around on the Asian circuit for at least one more fight beyond Saturday.