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Fighters Who Must Win to Save Their Jobs at UFC 133

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UFC 133 takes place tomorrow night live from Philadelphia, PA and for many, it’s a chance to get into title contention or move further up the ladder to bigger fights, bigger paydays and more opportunity.  However for a few fighters, this is a do or die situation.  A win will allow them a fresh breath in the UFC while a loss will find them likely unemployed and looking for work on the smaller shows.

Rafael Natal:  He’s by no means a certainty to be released with a loss, but it would push his UFC record to 0-2-1 and that could certainly signal the end of his UFC tenure.  Natal is a talented fighter, and sports an overall record of 12-3 and has won seven of those by submission.  Saturday night he’ll be facing Paul Bradley and likely will hope to take the fight to the mat to avoid Bradley’s heavy hands.  Natal is an underdog in the casinos and if he can’t pull off the upset, he could be seeking employment elsewhere.

Mike Brown:  The one time WEC Featherweight champion looked unbeatable a few years ago, but from when he met and lost to Aldo, he’s been on a slide losing four of six.  He will undoubtedly need a win here or he will be shown the door, if he doesn’t choose to retire.  He’s a very durable and tough fighter and will have a strength advantage when he faces Nam Pham tomorrow night.  The sports books have Mike Brown a solid favorite and he’ll have to execute to stay inside the UFC.

Rani Yahya:  Rani is has dropped two of three going back to his WEC tenure.  If he were to lose tomorrow night to Chad “Money” Mendes, who is a heavy favorite, he could be cut from the UFC.  Rani is only 6-5 in his last 11 and those all but one of those losses occurred under the UFC’s nose while competing in the WEC.  He will surely need to do something very special to beat Mendes and save his UFC spot.  Anything can happen in a fight, and that’s good news for Yahya.

Constantinos Philippou:  Philippou has had one fight in the UFC and he dropped a decision to Nick Catone.  He was brought back in this one to replace Alessio Sakara and with a loss here; he’d drop to 0-2 and would be in danger of a Joe Silva phone call.  For Constantinos he’ll have to beat the odds to save his career as he’s listed as +125 in sports books.  In his seven wins, he’s got four knockouts and he’s facing someone more than willing to stand in Jorge Rivera.  Should be a fun fight and a must win for Phillippou.

Yoshihio Akiyama:  Dana White has stated this is a “must win” for “Sexyama” but in all honesty, if there was a fighter who should buck the whole three losses and you’re out rule, it’s Akiyama.  He’s been in three fights in the UFC, going 1-2 but has won fight of the night honors in each fight.  There shouldn’t be risk in losing your job if you show up, have a fight of the night and drop a decision or get submitted. It’s what Dana says he wants fighters to do.  Lay it on the line.  Akiyama is probably laying his UFC gig on the line tomorrow night, but he shouldn’t be.  Akiyama is a pretty big underdog, listed as +225.

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