UFC on FOX 4: Who's on the Hot Seat?

Craig Amos@@CAABRMMAFeatured ColumnistAugust 3, 2012

UFC on FOX 4: Who's on the Hot Seat?

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    UFC on FOX 4 is primed and ready for Saturday, August 4. The card will feature a pair of light heavyweight showdowns between Mauricio "Shogun" Rua and Brandon Vera, and Ryan Bader and Lyoto Machida.

    Here, we will take a look at which fighters on the card enter the event on the hot seat.

    Which guys can propel themselves upwards with a big win? Who is in danger of falling from contender to gatekeeper? Who is on the verge of receiving his walking papers?

    There is certainly no shortage of fighters who will enter Saturday night's showcase with a lot to gain, and even more with a lot to lose.

    The following 10 fighters enter UFC on FOX 4 on the proverbial hot seat.

Josh Grispi

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    Once heralded as the top 145 prospect on the planet, Josh Grispi found out the hard way that hype does not automatically mean results.

    After the WEC was absorbed by the UFC, Grispi was poised to become a poster boy for the featherweight division but then he lost two straight contests, which officially took the shine off of his name.

    Still just 23, Grispi has plenty of time to get it back on track, but whether he does so under the UFC banner may very well be decided Saturday night.

    A pivotal moment in this man's young career, to say the least. 

Rani Yahya

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    Yahya is 1-1 in the UFC, but lost his final two WEC matches before making the jump.

    While the Brazilian remains one of the top jiu-jitsu practitioners at 145, his skill set has not translated into success the way it did a few years back. 

    How much longer will Zuffa give him to get back on track?

    That was a rhetorical question—the answer is not longer. If Yahya loses to fellow hot-seater, Josh Grispi at UFC on FOX 4, he will probably be dumped by the promotion.

Michihiro Omigawa

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    Omigawa has proved he can be a successful mixed martial artist on the Japanese circuit, but his tenure as a UFC fighter has not gone so smoothly. In fact, the 36-year-old has just one win in six tries on the big stage.

    His fight with Manny Gamburyan will likely be the tipping point for Omigawa, as he will almost certainly receive his walking papers should success elude him once again.

    The hot seat doesn't get much hotter than that.

Manny Gamburyan

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    From Ultimate Fighter star to WEC featherweight title contender to hot seat—a brief overview of Gamburyan's career.

    When he burst on to the UFC scene it looked like the 5'5" powerhouse was destined for great things. Unfortunately, Gamburyan's progress began to sputter and he dropped down to featherweight. He then reeled off three straight wins, earning a title shot against the WEC champ, Jose Aldo. After losing that fight, Gamburyan returned to the UFC at 145 pounds and lost back-to-back fights to Tyson Griffin and Diego Nunes.

    Though all of his losses since 2010 are forgivable, they collectively form something few UFC fighters survive—a three-fight losing streak. 

    If that streak moves to four, don't expect to see Gamburyan's name on any more UFC cards.

Oli Thompson

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    Thompson was knocked out in the second round of his UFC debut by Shawn Jordan. He will be looking for redemption at UFC on FOX 4 when he takes on Philip De Fries.

    A loss for Thompson almost certainly means discharge from the UFC. A win means he'll live to fight another day.

    This is one of those cases where the terms "chopping block" and "hot seat" are interchangeable.

Nam Phan

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    Phan began his UFC career by getting screwed in a decision loss to Leonard Garcia—at least the support group for that is pretty large—and has gone 1-2 since, with the win coming over Garcia in a rematch.

    At 1-3 in the UFC, Phan is most definitely on the hot seat heading into Saturday's fights. He will take on Cole Miller, who needs a win every bit as badly as Phan.

    A loss probably means it's time for Phan to hit the bricks. 

Cole Miller

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    After a stint on The Ultimate Fighter, Miller found some success in the UFC, going 7-3 in the lightweight division.

    Despite the moderate success, Miller sought a tactical advantage and dropped down to 145 pounds. The move did not go well.

    His first and only kick at the featherweight can was a one-sided decision loss to unheralded Steven Siler, in a match where Miller looked flat and slow. The performance may be attributable to issues with an untested weight cut, but excuses rarely cover up for results in MMA.

    If Miller continues to get poor results at 145, he may just find himself on the outside looking in. He needs a win over Nam Phan at UFC on FOX 4 if he wants to climb the featherweight ladder and enjoy even the slightest bit of job security.

Lyoto Machida

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    Since the Machida era ended, the Dragon has amassed one win in four fights. A loss to Ryan Bader at UFC on FOX 4 would make it one of five.

    That's enough for most fighters to get a pink slip in the mail.

    Now, Machida probably won't get cut even if he loses, but another failure would signify a downgrade from contender to gatekeeper. 

    To make the seat even hotter, the pressure is coming from both sides. If Machida wins he may find himself fighting for the UFC light heavyweight title in his very next bout. 

    That is two different outcomes with extremely diverse results. Certainly, this match is a pivotal moment in Machida's career.

Brandon Vera

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    Vera is another guy who can supposedly earn a title shot with the right kind of performance at UFC on FOX 4. On the other side of the coin, he may get his walking papers if he loses.

    In fact, he almost definitely will be cut if he fails to upset Mauricio Rua Saturday night.

    Vera was cut by the UFC after his last fight, which was a decision loss to Thiago Silva, but he was resigned after Silva failed his post-fight drug test and the bout was ruled a "no contest".

    It isn't often that such a result can vault a fighter into a nationally televised main event, but hey, good for Vera.

    A loss is very, very bad for Vera, and a win is very, very good.

    His seat is very, very hot.

Mauricio Rua

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    Shogun won't be cut if he loses, but a loss puts him out of title contention for awhile. And considering the rate at which the Brazilian's body is breaking down, a setback like that could be the beginning of the end of his career.

    Shogun has flip-floped wins and losses over his past six contests, but could earn a title shot with an impressive win over Brandon Vera.

    Another make-or-break situation here.

    Perhaps Rua's seat isn't as toasty as some of the other fighters' seats on this card, but it sure isn't cool.