20 MMA Fighters on the Hot Seat in the Month of April
Between the UFC's return to Sweden, a UFC vs. Strikeforce title unification fight and the conclusion of an exciting season of The Ultimate Fighter, there is a lot of action to follow in the month of April.
And how could there not be? Every Saturday this month, the UFC brings us world-class entertainment from some of the top fighters on the planet.
Some fighters compete this month in hopes of scoring a title shot. Others are fighting to save their jobs in the midst of a potential roster purge.
Regardless of what each fighter has on the line, there are several stars who simply cannot afford to lose. Here is a look at 20 MMA fighters who are on the hot seat in the month of April.
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Few fighters are as deep in the pressure cooker as Daniel Cormier. After winning his final Strikeforce contest back in January, the Heavyweight Grand Prix winner made a pair of bold callouts in his post-fight interview.
Cormier not only told the world that he wanted a bout with Frank Mir at UFC on FOX 7, but he then challenged light heavyweight champion Jon Jones to a battle later this year.
It's one thing to call out Jon Jones. It's another thing to completely look past former world champion Frank Mir. After all, we are talking about a submission machine who has finished opponents with far more experience than Cormier.
As one of the few fighters who might have a legitimate chance at dethroning Jon Jones, the fate of the light heavyweight division rests on the outcome of this matchup.
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Another place where opportunity is knocking is the flyweight division. With only 13 fighters competing at 125 pounds, it only takes one major win for any fighter to stand out from the pack.
Darren Uyenoyama now sits at 2-0 inside the Octagon and will meet former title contender Joseph Benavidez on the preliminary card of UFC on Fox 7. If "BC" can pull off the upset, he is a front runner for a crack at the flyweight title by year's end.
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The crazy antics of Tom Lawlor might make him one of the more popular fighters in the middleweight division, but if he comes up short in his next fight, there is no saving him from the chopping block.
The Ultimate Fighter alum has lost four of his last six contests, although he does have wins over notables Jason MacDonald and Patrick Cote during that time.
On Saturday night, "Filthy" meets Michael Kuiper on the Facebook portion of UFC on FUEL TV 9.
Sam Sicilia and Maximo Blanco
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In the post-Strikeforce landscape of the UFC, there simply isn't much room for fighters who lose consecutive fights. With both Sicilia and Blanco coming off of setbacks, this is a can't-lose situation for both men.
These featherweights meet on the Facebook portion of the Ultimate Fighter 17 finale on April 13.
Congolese fighter Papy Abedi was once considered to be a top prospect in the UFC welterweight division. Debuting with an unblemished 8-0 record, Abedi has since dropped two straight contests and finds himself in a precarious position.
In those matchups, Abedi found himself on the receiving end of a rear-naked choke in matchups against James Head and Thiago Alves. With an 0-2 record inside the Octagon, it's surprising that he is being given another chance.
On Saturday night, Abedi meets Besaf Yousef on the preliminary card of UFC on FUEL 9.
Yousef is also hunting for his first UFC win after an unsuccessful debut. He too is on the chopping block this weekend.
Tor Troeng and Adam Cella
For the first time in UFC history, contestants from The Ultimate Fighter will be making their promotional debut before the season's finale.
Both Adam Cella and Tor Troeng will probably be remembered for their knockout losses on the popular reality program, however, they will both be given the opportunity to make new memories inside the Octagon on Saturday night.
With the UFC returning to Sweden on Saturday night, Troeng will certainly be the hometown favorite. However, whoever comes up short in this matchup will likely be shown the door.
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Matt Mitrione once held a five-fight win streak in the UFC's heavyweight division. However, with consecutive losses to Roy Nelson and Cheick Kongo, it appears that "Meathead" wasn't ready for the big time.
Had Mitrione stepped up, the event would have been saved. However, that is hardly a burden that should be placed on his shoulders.
On Saturday night, Mitrione meets Phil De Fries in a fight that will likely see the loser handed a pink slip. De Fries has lost two of his last three, and one more would certainly be his undoing.
Leonard Garcia and Cody McKenzie
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When two stars who can't seem to buy a win square off inside the Octagon, it is essentially a loser-leaves-town fight. At UFC 159, Leonard Garcia and Cody McKenzie square off in exactly that scenario.
Garcia has lost his last four fights, while McKenzie has seen his arm raised only once in that many contests.
See how this fight will go down in our Head to Toe Breakdown of this matchup.
Cole Miller and Bart Palaszewski
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The Ultimate Fighter 17 finale may not have announced the entire fight card, but there are certainly plenty of competitors on the hot seat.
Few fighters are in such dire straits as featherweights Cole Miller and Bart Palaszewski. Despite having tremendous skills, both men have lost three of their last four contests.
With Fight of the Night written all over it, there is a chance that both men could make it out of this fight without receiving a pink slip, but with tremendous cuts on the horizon, it's hard to keep anyone on the roster after a 1-4 skid.
Miesha Tate and Cat Zingano
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The chance to be a pioneer in the sport of MMA has pretty much come and gone. There are very few opportunities for any fighter to step into a role where they are an icon in their industry.
Considering that the UFC is still new to the world of women's MMA, Meisha Tate and Cat Zingano have that golden opportunity at their doorstep at the Ultimate Fighter 17 finale.
The winner of this matchup will not only get a title shot against Ronda Rousey, but will also become one of the first two female coaches in Ultimate Fighter history.
With so much on the line, it's easy to see why failure is not an option for either woman.
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With Dan Hardy forced out of a planned matchup with Matt Brown, the main card of UFC on FOX 9 suddenly had an available slot for a welterweight in search of a big opportunity.
Strikeforce import Jordan Mein, fresh off of a win over Dan Miller, decided that stepping up on one month's notice was in his best interest.
There is tremendous upside for Mein if he is successful. He gets to appear on FOX, and a win thrusts him into an enviable position in the division.
However, with Matt Brown standing across the cage, you are always looking forward to a rough brawl against an iron-chinned warrior who can get gritty with the best of them. Mein is one of the brightest prospects coming out of Canada and expectations of him are high.
In one fight, Mein could go from dark horse to unrecognizable.
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With all of the excitement coming up for the UFC, a champion vs. champion fight between Benson Henderson and Gilbert Melendez is somehow flying under the radar.
However, when these two clash in the main event of UFC on FOX 7, there will be no more debate about the greatest lightweight on the planet.
Melendez has been begging for a crack at the UFC title ever since Zuffa purchased Strikeforce in early 2011. Now that "El Nino" has gotten his wish, it's time to put up or shut up.
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$70,000 to show and another $70,000 to win. That's the salary of French striker Cheick Kongo.
When you consider how tremendously terrible his fight against Shawn Jordan was at UFC 149, that must have been the most bitter check that Dana White has ever signed.
If that were the only boring Kongo fight, it might be forgivable. However, at UFC 137, Kongo put on an equally dreadful performance in a lackluster win over Matt Mitrione.
Boring fights and big paychecks. Isn't that exactly why Fitch got released? If Kongo comes up short against Roy Nelson at UFC 159, you'd better believe that his time in the UFC is done.
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In the main event of UFC 159, Jon Jones brings his light heavyweight title to New Jersey in hopes of adding another successful defense to his resume. The man who stands across the Octagon from "Bones" is none other than the loud-mouthed Oregonian, Chael Sonnen.
Sonnen's merits as a light heavyweight certainly don't make him worthy of a crack at gold, however, his popularity and drawing power are astronomical for a non-champion, so with a lot of trash talk, Uncle Chael wormed his way into a title fight in a division in which he hasn't competed in years.
Can the career of "The American Gangster" survive a third title shot failure in less than three years? Does his shtick get old if he doesn't back up the trash talk?
By the time these men meet, Sonnen will be 36 years old, and a loss likely removes him from any title opportunity for the rest of his tenure as a UFC fighter.