The UFC heads to Winnipeg on Saturday night with UFC 161 taking place at the MTS Centre and airing on pay-per-view. Much like the UFC’s first trip to the Canadian city of Calgary, this card has undergone numerous changes due to injury as Renan Barao, Eddie Wineland, Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira have all fallen off the card due to injury situations. A quality light heavyweight bout between Rashad Evans and Dan Henderson fills the main event void, and to some that is a quality main event between two future Hall Of Famers.
There are some fighters on the card who could find themselves fighting for their positions on the UFC roster. As usual, lives could be changed on Saturday night as title shots could come in the grasps of some, some could know where their next paycheck will be coming from while others will have to contemplate what is next for them. Here is a look at four fighters who will be in that search for a win as we bring you The Cut List for UFC 161.
Igor Pokrajac (25-9, 1 NC, 4-4 1 NC UFC)
Who he’s fighting: Ryan Jimmo
Why he’s on the list: Pokrajac will be entering the Octagon for the tenth time on Saturday night, and it will be the first time he has been featured on a pay-per-view main card as he and Jimmo were selected to fill the void on the main card that was left vacated due to various injuries. He is coming off what should technically be two straight losses, as he was submitted by Vinny Magalhaes at UFC 152 and September, and then dropped a decision to Joey Beltran at UFC On FX 6 in December. However, the loss to Beltran was overturned as Beltran failed his post-fight drug test, but Pokrajac will enter the Octagon on Saturday night in desperate need of a win. Pokrajac dropped three of his first four fights in the UFC, and they kept him around despite that record, and he then proceeded to win three straight fights before the recent losses. A win over Jimmo would put his UFC record back over the .500 mark and save his spot on the roster, for now at least.
Chances of being cut with loss: 80%. Pokrajac tends to have solid fights and his matchup with Jimmo has all sorts of potential to be fireworks. Both men swing hard and hit hard, and both have solid and durable chins, and it could turn into a real war inside the Octagon. There is a reason they were chosen to fill the void left by injuries. Jimmo is a near three-to-one favorite, so Pokrajac will be looking to pull the upset and keep himself on the UFC roster.
Edwin Figueroa (9-2, 2-2 UFC)
Who he’s fighting: Roland Delorme
Why he’s on the list: Figueroa started off his fighting career with seven straight wins that was capped off with a win over current UFC bantamweight fighter Johnny Bedford. That earned him a shot with MMA’s biggest organization as he made a short notice debut against Michael McDonald in March 2011. The two had a very exciting fight in which McDonald took home the decision, but both took home bonuses for “Fight Of The Night”. Figueroa got a full training camp for his next fight, and he scored a knockout win over Jason Reinhardt in August 2011. That was followed by a split decision win over Alex Caceres at UFC 143 in February 2012, but that was not without controversy as Caceres was deducted two points due to groin strikes, and it was a questionable call that cost Caceres the win and gave it to Figueroa. Figueroa then missed a year due to injures, and is coming off a knockout loss to Francisco Rivera at UFC 156 in February. While he has a 2-2 mark in the UFC, he could easily be 1-3, and that puts him in a must-win situation against Roland Delorme on Saturday night in a fight that will be featured on the FX preliminary card.
Chances of being cut with loss: 75%. Figueroa has had some good fights and is a solid prospect at 135 pounds, but three losses in five fights would put him on the brink of being cut. He really should already have three UFC losses, but he got lucky in his fight with Caceres. Delorme is the slight favorite in the fight and he is in as much of a need of a win as Figueora is, though Figueroa is in much bigger need as Delorme does not have an official UFC loss.
John Maguire (18-5, 2-2 UFC)
Who he’s fighting: Mitch Clarke
Why he’s on the list: Maguire has fought four times in the UFC, and he fights for the second straight time in Canada. It will be Maguire’s first appearance as a lightweight as his previous four fights have come at 170 pounds, and he will be looking to snap a two-fight losing streak when he takes on Mitch Clarke. Maguire debuted at UFC 138 in November 2011 with a decision win over Justin Edwards. He followed that with a submission victory over DaMarques Johnson at UFC On FUEL TV 2 in April 2012, which capped off a seven-fight win streak. Maguire then took on John Hathaway at UFC On FUEL TV 5. Hathaway used his size and wrestling to take a decision win. Maguire then took on Matt Riddle at UFC 154 in November, and Riddle employed the same strategy of using his size and wrestling to win a decision. Maguire was small for a welterweight, and after being out of action for eight months, he will make the move down to lightweight, a division he may be a better fit for.
Chances of being cut with loss: 95%. Maguire must win if he is going to keep his spot on the UFC roster. He has lost two in a row, and three straight losses generally signals the end of the line for someone in the UFC. It does not help matters that Maguire is dropping to lightweight, one of the toughest and deepest divisions in the UFC. Clarke has also lost two straight, so the loser will likely be gone from the UFC. Maguire is the favorite in the fight.
Dustin Pague (11-7, 1-3 UFC)
Who he’s fighting: Yves Jabouin
Why he’s on the list: Pague was a member of season 14 of “The Ultimate Fighter”, making it to the semi-finals before being eliminated by T.J. Dillashaw. Pague debuted at the TUF 14 Finale, but lost by TKO to John Albert in just over a minute. After six months off, he returned to action in June 2012 at UFC On FX 3 when he scored an impressive submission victory over Jared Papazian. He then took two fights on short notice, including a break of just two weeks following his win over Papazian. He dropped decisions to Ken Stone at UFC On FX 4 in June 2012 and Chico Camus at UFC 150 in August, and three losses in four fights inside the Octagon generally signals the end of a fighter’s time on the UFC roster. However, Pague gets a reprieve due to taking his last two bouts on short notice with not much in the way of a training camp, and he will get at least one more chance in the UFC with a full training camp. He has undergone some changes in training camps, moving to Texas to work alongside the likes of Johnny Bedford, Will Campuzano and Johny Hendricks.
Chances of being cut with loss: 100%. Pague has to win his fight against Yves Jabouin if he is going to stick around in the UFC. Jabouin is coming off a loss and will be fighting in his home country, and he is motivated to get himself back into the title hunt after losing his three-fight win streak. Pague showed good instincts when he fought Papazian with a full camp, and he will need to do whatever it takes to get the win if he is going to keep his roster position.
Tags: Dustin Pague, edwin figueroa, Igor Pokrajac, John Maguire, Mixed Martial Arts, The Cut List, UFC, UFC 161