UFC 188 should provide an electric atmosphere in Mexico City, as Cain Velasquez returns after almost a 2 year absence to face Fabricio Werdum in what is now a heavyweight championship unification bout. We won't be seeing them face a release any time soon, but there is one former middleweight contender that is likely to be gone (again) with a loss. Otherwise, this week's edition of The Cut List is very kind to the overwhelming majority of the lineup.
Likely cut with a loss
Nate Marquardt (33-14-2 MMA, 12-8 UFC). At 1-4 in his last 5 and looking dreadful vs. Brad Tavares in January, "The Great" is decidedly no longer great, and he's surely finished in the UFC if he (as expected) loses to Kelvin Gastelum tonight.
Possibly cut with a loss
Patrick Williams (7-4 MMA, 0-1 UFC). Up against TUF Latin America winner Alejandro Perez, Williams' first UFC fight ended in a flying knee KO loss to Chris Beal. Given the complete lack of depth at bantamweight, he could get a third shot, but don't be surprised if he's cut at 0-2. Mind you, lack of depth didn't really stop the UFC from axing a boat-load of flyweights.
Drew Dober (15-6, 1 NC MMA; 1-2, 1 NC UFC). Looking beyond that absurd stoppage in the Leandro Silva fight that was thankfully flipped to a no contest, Dober's UFC record isn't very good. He dropped his first two before beating Jamie Varner, and 1 win out of 5 puts him on thin ice at the very least.
Likely safe regardless of outcome
Cain Velasquez (13-1 MMA, 11-1 UFC), Fabricio Werdum (19-5-1 MMA, 7-2 UFC). Self-explanatory. Let's move on.
Gilbert Melendez (22-4 MMA, 1-2 UFC), Eddie Alvarez (25-4 MMA, 0-1 UFC). It's not often that a bout between two guys who risk being 2 fights under .500 in the UFC means neither man is at risk of getting cut, but these are established top 15 lightweights. Melendez's losses have been in championship bouts, while Alvarez's debut loss was to the current #1 contender. I'd assume both men are staying on board regardless of this outcome, unless they retire on their own accord.
Kelvin Gastelum (10-1 MMA, 5-1 UFC). We know Gastelum's weight-cutting has been a major problem at 170, but the goal here appears to be to get him a very favorable match-up against Nate Marquardt at middleweight, and then he can try welterweight again. No doubt a loss would be disastrous for his immediate future prospects as a contender, but that's about it.
Yair Rodriguez (4-1 MMA, 1-0 UFC), Charles Rosa (10-1 MMA, 1-1 UFC), Tecia Torres (5-0 MMA, 1-0 UFC), Angela Hill (2-0 MMA, 1-0 UFC). Believe it or not, these are the only main card fighters (aside from the headliners) who are coming off wins. Rodriguez won TUF Latin America, Rosa won FOTN in a losing effort in his debut against Dennis Siver, and then followed that up by choking out Sean Soriano in his next outing. Those two are in good standing, as are TUF 20's Torres and Hill, who are ranked strawweights, and are both unbeaten.
Henry Cejudo (8-0 MMA, 2-0 UFC), Chico Camus (14-5, 1 NC MMA; 3-2, 1 NC UFC), Efrain Escudero (23-9 MMA, 4-5 UFC), Alejandro Perez (15-5 MMA, 1-0 UFC), Frank Trevino (12-0 MMA, 1-0 UFC), Johnny Case (20-4 MMA, 2-0 UFC), Cathal Pendred (16-2-1 MMA, 3-0 UFC), Augusto Montano (15-1 MMA, 1-0 UFC), Gabriel Benitez (17-4 MMA, 1-0 UFC), Clay Collard (14-5 MMA, 1-1 UFC). Here's an unusual thing you don't see too often, all but two fighters (Dober and Williams) are coming off of wins. Cejudo is a big contender at flyweight and he leads the pack here. You also have six fighters unbeaten in their UFC career (albeit four of them are 1-0). Perez is the other TUF Latin America winner so that affords him some cage time. Escudero may not be as assured another fight as I have him listed, but the UFC was angling to get him a spot on this card and it wouldn't be surprising if they tried to keep him around at least one more time barring an extended losing streak.