Alex Caceres is having trouble keeping up with UFC-level competition.
On a personal note, few things this year have been more interesting than the career of UFC bantamweight Alex "Bruce Leeroy" Caceres.
Some way or another, it seems like The Ultimate Fighter alumni is always on the verge of getting cut from Zuffa's roster.
And yet, Caceres keeps finding his way onto UFC events, this time even taking a main-card spot on the promotion's first China event.
In fact, it's probably fair to say that if Dana White hadn't picked him out as a personal favorite during TUF, the gimmicky 24-year-old would be trying to scrape together a winning streak in Tachi Palace Fights, Titan Fighting Championship or (should he be so lucky) World Series of Fighting.
But is Caceres facing a pink slip if he loses this weekend at UFC on Fuel TV 6?
That's tough to answer.
True, Caceres' mediocre 7-5 record doesn't look good on paper, but when you analyze further, it's clear that he's drowning in the deep end of the pool when he can barely dog paddle. To put it simply, the young lightweight-turned-bantamweight has had trouble adjusting to UFC-level competition.
In most cases, that's a problem fixed by patient matchmaking, but Caceres is in a division where there just aren't that many easy fights.
Even if you rationalize that Caceres should've won his February bout against Edwin Figueroa, the fact remains that he was just unable to finish the fight. Moreover, when you only have a dozen fights on your professional MMA record, 7-5 looks a lot worse than 8-4 (which would've carried a three-fight winning streak for Caceres).
Does "Bruce Leroy" have the glow?
Besides, Caceres' last fight was a pretty blatant case of gift matchmaking from UFC fight card coordinator Joe Silva. "Bruce Leeroy" desperately needed a win after losing to Figueroa on points, and Damacio Page was the perfect fall guy.
Prior to fighting on the UFC on Fuel TV 4 undercard, Page had seven career losses with six of them by submission—Caceres' main specialty.
There wasn't a more perfect opponent for the UFC to feed to Caceres, and he still had to fish for an extremely telegraphed triangle choke for two grueling rounds. If he fares that badly in a hand-fed matchup, what's in store for Caceres when he faces Japanese journeyman Motonobu Tezuka—a last-minute replacement with over 27 fights' worth of experience?
Caceres has had luck on his side until now. Dana White seems to see something in him, and the bantamweight division isn't so crowded that the UFC president will cut one of his favorite young prospects if he doesn't have to do so.
But eventually, "Bruce Leeroy" needs to start living up to his adopted ring name and master his inner "Glow." If he can't manage that much against Tezuka—who comes into this fight on a week's notice—there's really no reason that Caceres should be fighting in the UFC anymore.