The UFC brings a stacked card for their debut on the brand new FOX Sports 1 channel when the station debuts on Saturday night. With a day full of sports programming on the new station, it is highlighted by a fight card from the UFC which sees ten fights airing on the network headlined by a main event featuring Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua taking on Chael Sonnen. Also on the card are fighters including Alistair Overeem, Travis Browne, Urijah Faber, Matt Brown, Joe Lauzon, Brad Pickett, Michael McDonald and Conor McGregor, so the UFC is bringing out some big names for their debut card on the network.
In the midst of all of those names are some who are looking to score a win and maintain their spots on the UFC roster. In this edition of The Cut List, we are going to highlight five fighters searching for a win on Saturday night. Some of the fighters on the list are not as in much of a need of a win as others, but all five would love to score a win and secure their immediate futures of their MMA career. Here is The Cut List for UFC Fight Night: Shogun vs. Sonnen.
Uriah Hall (7-3, 0-1 UFC)
Who he’s fighting: John Howard
Why he’s on the list: Hall was perhaps the most hyped fighter to ever come out of “The Ultimate Fighter” when he came off of season 17 of the reality program. It was with good reason as he had three of the most spectacular knockouts in the history of the show. His spinning wheel kick knockout of Adam Cella was scary, devastating, or any other adjective you could come up with to describe it in that fashion. He followed that with a one-punch knockout of Bubba McDaniel, and followed that with a knockout of Dylan Andrews, one which saw him rock Andrews from the bottom which forced a reverse in positions that saw Hall finish the fight. On the strength of those wins, many expected him to win the six-figure contract in the finals. However, when he took on teammate Kelvin Gastelum in the finals in April, he did not show the same killer instinct he did on the show, and Gastelum took advantage of a different Hall and scored the huge upset. Hall admitted he froze against his friend and will need to show the same fire he had that guided him to the finals when he takes on John Howard on Saturday night.
Chances of being cut with loss: 25%. I have zero doubt that even if Hall loses that he will get another fight in the UFC. He has all the tools to be a title challenger if he can put it all together, and changing training camps to work alongside his coach Chael Sonnen, Mark Munoz and Jake Ellenberger will help. Hall has had to wade through three different opponents for this bout, and he gets Howard on short notice. Hall needs to hold nothing back and go for the win, and while he’ll stick around with a loss, he doesn’t wanna be looking at the possibility of three straight losses when he next fights.
Michael Johnson (12-8, 4-4 UFC)
Who he’s fighting: Joe Lauzon
Why he’s on the list: Johnson finds himself in desperate need of a win after dropping his last two fights. Johnson dropped a unanimous decision to Myles Jury at UFC 155 in December, and he was then submitted by Reza Madadi at UFC On FUEL TV 9 in April. That ended a three-fight win streak that Johnson had put together. Consecutive wins over Shane Roller, Tony Ferguson and Danny Castillo put Johnson on the rise in the lightweight rankings after he started his UFC career with losses in two of his first three fights. Johnson made it to the finals of season 12 of “The Ultimate Fighter”, but lost to Jonathan Brookins. He also has a UFC win over Edward Faaloloto, and a submission loss to Paul Sass as well. Despite putting together just a .500 record in the UFC over eight fights, Johnson gets one more shot, and he will get a tough matchup when he takes on Joe Lauzon in the opening bout of the main card.
Chances of being cut with loss: 95%. I have to assume that another loss would signal the end of this UFC stint for Johnson. He takes tough fights, and he also takes fights on short notice, but three straight losses in a stacked lightweight division makes it hard to keep your roster spot. It’s another tough matchup in Lauzon, plus he is taking on Lauzon in his hometown, so Lauzon will be looking to put on a stellar performance. Anything less than stellar from Johnson likely means a loss, and he can’t afford one. He needs the win over Lauzon.
Daniel Pineda (18-9, 3-2 UFC)
Who he’s fighting: Diego Brandao
Why he’s on the list: Pineda will be fighting for the sixth time as a member of the UFC roster as he searches for his fourth win in the promotion, and 19th overall. Pineda is also looking to start a new winning streak after scoring a “Submission Of The Night” win over Justin Lawrence at The Ultimate Fighter 17 Finale in April. That ended a two-fight losing streak that had Pineda on the brink of being cut. He lost to former WEC champion Mike Brown at UFC 146 in May 2012, and followed that with the first knockout loss of his career to Antonio Carvalho at UFC 149 in July 2012. Pineda had a seven-fight win streak prior to those losses, with his last two coming in his first two UFC bouts- first-round submission wins over Pat Schilling and Mackens Semerzier in early 2012. Pineda had a knack for taking fights on short notice as his fights with Schilling, Semerzier and Carvalho came on short notice. His win over Lawrence followed a long layoff, and as he prepares to take on arguably the toughest test of his career, the 28-year-old has put in a full training camp as he looks to remain above .500 inside the Octagon.
Chances of being cut with loss: 55%. Pineda is a real talent and is a solid enough fighter to keep around in the featherweight division. He may never be a title contender, but he is able to put together fun fights and will be a tough test for anyone at 145 pounds. His willingness to take fights on short notice only strengthens his standing in the UFC, but a loss to Diego Brandao would put him at 3-3 in the UFC, and just 1-3 over his last four fights. He likely hangs around with a loss, but even that’s not a guarantee, and he would really need a win next time out should he lose.
Manny Gamburyan (12-7, 3-5 UFC)
Who he’s fighting: Cole Miller
Why he’s on the list: Gamburyan has been around the Zuffa organization for a long time, going back all the way to season five of “The Ultimate Fighter” where he made it to the finals. He lost to Nate Diaz, and since then, has gone just 6-5 in eleven fights in both the UFC and WEC. He had a four-fight UFC losing streak snapped in his last bout when he scored a decision win over Michihiro Omigawa at UFC On FOX 4 in August 2012. It hasn’t been easy for Gamburyan as he has transitioned back to the UFC following his WEC career, as injuries have kept him from competing in four scheduled fights, including two this year. With his track record of injuries, as well as his recent UFC record and recent record overall of being just 1-3 over his last four fights, Gamburyan finds himself in what could be a must-win situation when he enters the Octagon on Saturday night. He’ll meet a fellow castmember of season five of “TUF” when he takes on Cole Miller. Surprisingly, these two have never crossed paths in six years of fighting for Zuffa, and while Miller shaved off unemployment for the time being in his last fight, he certainly could use another win as well.
Chances of being cut with loss: 75%. Gamburyan losing would put him 1-4 in the span of five fights, and that generally equals being released from a contract with the UFC. His injury issues and the fact he has pulled out of just two fights this year doesn’t help his case for keeping his spot with a loss, so he needs a win. Miller needs another win as well, and he responded big when he was in a must-win situation when he fought Bart Palaszewski in April. The winner of this fight firms their roster spot with two straight wins while the loser will find themselves one step closer to the regional circuit.
James Vick (4-0, 0-0 UFC)
Who he’s fighting: Ramsey Nijem
Why he’s on the list: Vick was a castmember of season 15 of “The Ultimate Fighter” coached by Urijah Faber and Dominick Cruz. He made it all the way to the semi-finals before being eliminated by eventual winner Michael Chiesa. With the nature of that season being live, Vick being knocked out by Chiesa prevented him from making his UFC debut at The Ultimate Fighter 15 Finale in June 2012. Injuries kept Vick from competing at all since his stint on “TUF” and he will get the opportunity to make his long-awaited UFC debut in the opening bout of the debut event on FOX Sports 1 when he takes on Ramsey Nijem. Vick is one of the most inexperienced fighters in the UFC as he has only four professional fights under his belt, all of which came during a span of less than three months in 2011. Out of those four fights, three of those came by stoppage with all three ending in the first round.
Chances of being cut with loss: 50%. I say it’s 50-50 whether Vick gets another shot in the UFC with a loss. He’s young and has a bunch of potential, but he likely isn’t UFC-ready. He has the chance to prove people wrong on Saturday night, but he is also facing a fighter in Nijem who is looking to bounce back from a tough loss. There have been fighters recently cut following just one loss, and a loss could send Vick out of the UFC, though I see him getting another fight regardless. A win would secure him more than just one more fight.