The Cut List: UFC Fight Night 31 Edition

The UFC brings an event to the troops once again on Wednesday night as the Octagon heads into Fort Campbell in Kentucky for UFC Fight For The Troops 3. The event will be headlined by a five-round middleweight bout as Army Ranger Tim Kennedy takes on Rafael Natal. Several other UFC fighters who have military experience will compete including Liz Carmouche, Neil Magny and Colton Smith. The event airs on FOX Sports 1.

Most of the fighters competing on the card have had recent success as 18 of the 26 fighters stepping inside the Octagon won their last bout, and several fighters are on winning streaks. That’s not to say there aren’t fighters who need to have turnarounds on Wednesday night. Today we will be highlighting five particular fighters who need a successful showing as we bring you The Cut List for UFC Fight For The Troops: Kennedy vs. Natal.

Colton Smith (3-2, 1-1 UFC)
His opponent: Michael Chiesa
Background: Smith was the season 16 winner of “The Ultimate Fighter” as he defeated Mike Ricci to win the six-figure contract in December 2012. It was a huge win for Smith as he was very inexperienced compared to Ricci as he had only fought three times in his professional career. He had won his first two fights by submission, but he suffered a second-round knockout loss in his third career fight and was entering the reality competition coming off of that loss, so he didn’t have a ton of momentum. Smith persevered through the competition, and he became better known due to his background as an active member of the military. Smith had his next fight at UFC 160 against another experienced “TUF” winner as he took on Robert Whittaker. Whittaker dominated the fight as he finished Smith with punches in the third round. Smith has now lost two of his five professional fights as he works his way through the UFC roster against a bunch of guys with more experience. He will be dropping down to lightweight to meet Michael Chiesa in front of a big military crowd that will throw their full support behind him.
Outlook: Okay for now. If Smith were to lose to Chiesa, I don’t see him getting cut as he’s a TUF winner, and they give those guys opportunities that most wouldn’t receive. However, it would put him on very shaky ground if he were to lose as he still doesn’t have a lot of experience, and while he did win TUF, it was likely the weakest season of the competition thus far. He could really use a win, but he does have a tough match-up against Chiesa.

Lorenz Larkin (13-1 (1), 0-1 UFC)
His opponent: Chris Camozzi
Background: It is rare to see a fighter with just one career loss on this list, let alone when that one loss was an extremely close fight that could have been a win, but Larkin finds himself in this position as he makes his second appearance inside the Octagon. Larkin came over from Strikeforce to the UFC with an undefeated record (though he had a loss to Mo Lawal overturned to a no contest as Lawal failed a drug test) and he was coming off a huge win over Robbie Lawler, a man who has suddenly turned into a title contender in the UFC. Larkin fought Francis Carmont in his UFC debut in April, and a win would have made Larkin an instant threat in the division. However, Carmont scored a unanimous decision win, but the scorecards were met with some controversy. A lot of viewers at home and media members scored the fight for Larkin, but unfortunately for him, none of the three judges saw the fight for him. Larkin is looking to get back into the win column as he meets Chris Camozzi during the online portion of the preliminary card.
Outlook: Cloudy. I don’t believe that Larkin will get cut if he suffers a loss to Camozzi, though I think it will put him in the position of one more loss would signal a release. A stoppage loss would change things, though, and it could signal a cut if Camozzi stops him. Larkin is a dangerous middleweight and could be a title contender in the future, and how he responds from his first official loss will go a long way to seeing what he becomes down the road.

Yves Edwards (42-20-1, 10-8 UFC)
His opponent: Yancy Medeiros
Background: Edwards is a long-time veteran of the sport as he will be competing for the 64th time in his career as he takes on Yancy Medeiros during the online portion of the preliminary card. Edwards has bounced around promotions during his career, and he first fought inside the Octagon over twelve years ago when he fought Matt Serra in September 2001. He had a lot of success and was in line to fight for the UFC Lightweight Championship before the UFC dissolved the division in the pre-TUF era. The division was brought back, but he left the UFC in 2006 following back-to-back losses to Mark Hominick and Joe Stevenson. Edwards returned to the UFC in a short notice capacity in September 2010 and went 3-1 over his first four fights in his return to reestablish himself in the division. However, Edwards has had a tough stretch lately as he has gone 1-3 over his last four fights, though his three losses have come by decision, and the last two were close split decision losses. Moving back down the card might help Edwards as he looks to snap his two-fight losing skid against Medeiros.
Outlook: Probably cut with a loss. A loss would put Edwards at three straight defeats and move his record to 1-4 over his last five fights. That is enough to signify a cut from the UFC roster, but Edwards is still a solid fighter and a good name to keep on the roster, and he generally has fun fights. That may be enough to keep him around with a loss, but the actual scenario calls for him likely being cut with a loss. He needs a win.

Neil Magny (8-2, 1-1 UFC)
His opponent: Seth Baczynski
Background: Magny will step foot inside the Octagon for the third time looking for his second win as he takes on Seth Baczynski during the online portion of the preliminary card. Magny was a participant on season 16 of “The Ultimate Fighter”, making it all the way to the semifinals before losing to Mike Ricci. It was one of the weakest seasons of TUF as only six of the 32 fighters competing on the show fought in the UFC, and only three remain on the roster just a year after the season aired. Magny could be the next one to get the axe from the UFC as he needs to bounce back from a first-round submission loss suffered to Sergio Moraes at UFC 163 in August. That ended Magny’s two-fight win streak which culminated with a decision win over fellow TUF 16 alum Jon Manley at UFC 157 in February in his UFC debut. Magny is a tall welterweight with a big reach and he will be looking for the fifth stoppage win of his career against Baczynski.
Outlook: Likely cut with a loss. There is a good chance that this fight against Baczynski could be a loser gets cut bout as Baczynski has lost two straight fights after winning his previous six straight, four of which came in the UFC. Magny will need to use his six-inch reach advantage against Baczynski as they’re even in height, and both men will be fighting to win, and that could possibly lead to an uneventful fight. Both need an impressive win.

Brian Houston (4-0, 0-0 UFC)
His opponent: Derek Brunson
Background: It is rare to see a fighter making his UFC debut on this list, but with the ever-growing UFC roster, there may be several cases in the future where a fighter could be one-and-done with a loss. Houston falls into that category despite being an injury replacement. He has had just four professional fights, so he comes into the UFC with not a lot of experience. He was supposed to make his debut at UFC 164 on short notice, coincidentially replacing Derek Brunson, but he wasn’t cleared for the bout and it was cancelled. Houston replaced Antonio Brago Neto in this fight, and he looks to remain undefeated in his young career, but he has a tough match-up against Brunson. Houston has won his last three fights by stoppage, and he has had a good deal of time to prepare for this fight with the cancellation of the August bout.
Outlook: Needs a good showing. Brunson will be a tough fight as Brunson has just two losses in his career and is looking to go to 2-0 in the UFC. Brunson has stated he has a goal of fighting 20 times inside the Octagon, and he will be doing anything to win and ensure that goal is accomplished. He has more experience than Houston, and Houston will find some trouble. A good showing will help Houston get another fight in the UFC, and a win would guarantee it.

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