With most events, it is easy to pick out which fighter has the most to lose. Such is not the case with UFC on Fuel 9.
Sure, you may scream at me that it is Gegard Mousasi. And in a world where he actually loses this fight you may be right, but he is a heavy favorite for a reason. I cannot even envision a way in which he loses this bout. So, I immediately disqualified him from contention.
The undercard is filled with fun fights, but nothing of real importance. This increases the difficulty to choosing just who has their back against the wall the most.
After much deliberating, it came down to four individuals: Brad Pickett, Mike Easton, Matt Mitrione and Ross Pearson.
The bantamweights, I decided, wouldn't lose everything with a loss. Surely, a loss would send them further down the rankings, but losing to another top bantamweight in a rather shallow division isn't the worst thing that could happen to them. Not only that, but they are both exciting fighters who shouldn't be in danger of being cut.
Pearson is in one of the deepest divisions, but he is an exciting fighter coming off of a win. Losing to Ryan Couture would not do much to alter his current standing as a serviceable lightweight who can be plugged in to create an entertaining bout at 155 pounds.
That leaves us with the heavyweight. Honestly, he is the only logical choice on this card.
Mitrione was once thought to be a legitimate prospect in the division. He was a big, athletic guy with KO power. He started his career with five straight wins in the UFC. Impressive. In the heavyweight division, that is good enough to start having your name tossed around for some bigger bouts.
He proved he wasn't ready for that against Cheick Kongo. Then, Roy Nelson put him away in under three minutes.
Now, with two consecutive losses, he goes against Phil de Fries.
De Fries is outmatched in this fight, but he is a tough competitor. That could keep him in the fight for a little while. And if Mitrione were to drop a fight to De Fries, it would almost certainly spell doom for his UFC career.
Mitrione is not just fighting to get back on the winning track. He is fighting for his job. He is fighting to not be embarrassed.
The former prospect can use this fight to springboard himself back in to better fights in the division. He can regain some confidence and continue his development as a well-rounded mixed martial artist. A loss, on the other hand, would hand him his pink slip.
Mitrione is the favorite, but with four-ounce gloves anything can happen. He just better make sure it doesn't happen in this fight.