The UFC is a business, and like any other business, from time to time, employees no longer do enough to offset their salary and need to be replaced. It’s in every fighter’s mind as they train and prepare for their fights, but after a loss, or two consecutive losses it has to be a constant worry. There are fighters on this card who with a loss could find themselves out of work, or severely buried on the undercard. Here’s a look at them.
Yes, the Huntington Beach Bad Boy was once the biggest star in the sport and the UFC Poster Boy. He was an outlaw inside and out of the sport and backed up his petulance by winning and defending his World Championship again and again. Now, years later, the blonde hair is all that ties modern day Tito Ortiz to his previous self in the UFC. Gone is his ability to dominate a fight with takedowns and ground and pound. Gone are the post-fight antics and T Shirts. Gone is Tito Ortiz completely if he fails to defeat a younger, stronger version of himself in Ryan Bader Saturday night in Las Vegas. Tito Ortiz hasn’t had his hand raised inside the fabled Octagon since 2006, and when he faces Ryan Bader, he’ll be an underdog to do it again. This is absolutely the end of the road for Tito with a loss, and sadly, possibly the end of an era.
Takeya is a talented fighter, but is 3-3 in his last six outings. A loss on Saturday to Brian Bowles would tip the scales under .500 for him and that could be enough to see him let go by Zuffa. He is coming off of a win, be it a razor thin split decision to UFC newcomer Rueben Duran, but if he looks unimpressive Saturday and loses, it wouldn’t be beyond the realm of possibility to see him let go. The UFC represents the best of the best, and 3-4 doesn’t. His fight of the night wars with Miguel Torres and Scott Jorgensen could buy him another shot, but a loss here and he’s effective lost any shot at climbing above undercard status in the UFC.
Aaron is a wrestler with a ton of promise, but if he were to lose Saturday night against Brad Tavares it would be his third loss in four fights, and that’s usually enough to get you a Monday morning phone call from Joe Silva. He also won a split decision over Tom Lawlor and had he lost that fight, we might not even be talking about him in the UFC at this point. Whether he’d be cut or not, this is a must win fight for Simpson if he had any aspirations beyond the undercard in the foreseeable future. Simpson has great wrestling, and he’ll need it against Tavares who will look to bang with Aaron standing.
Andre Winner/Anthony Njokuani
This is one of those classic old pro wrestling loser leaves town match. Whoever drops this contest will almost certainly be fired from the UFC. Andre Winner is 2-4-1 in his last seven, including dropping his previous two fights. Anthony Njokuani is 1-3 in his last four, and a loss here will send him packing. With both fighters seemingly needing a win, you can expect fireworks from this fight. Whoever loses will be turning their cell phones off Monday morning, while the winner will have another chance to prove they belong in the rarified air of the UFC.
As you sit back and watch UFC 132 this weekend, keep these names in mind, because you should expect wars when they fight to protect their livelihoods in the cage. It’s never fun to know your job is at risk, but it should provide an extra spark to go out and leave it all on the line. For these five fighters at UFC 132, it’s win or lose what you’ve spent a life to attain. It’ll make for high drama in the high desert.
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