UFC Fighters on the Hot Seat in the Month of August
The month of August has arrived, and with it comes a list of fighters on the hot seat this month in the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
Several fighters find themselves in dire-need of success in the cage this month, whether a competitor needs a win to avoid release, or in order to maintain his or her status in a certain division. The fighters making up this list will include mostly big names, as opposed to undercard fighters who remain relatively unknown; those fighters are obviously on the hot seat, but aren't relevant in their respective divisions at the moment.
The UFC kicks off August this Saturday with UFC 163 in Brazil, while UFC Fight Night 26, UFC Fight Night 27 and UFC 164 follow later this month.
There are plenty of implications ready to come out of these fight cards, and several fighters have more on the line this month than most. Let's take a look at which competitors are on the hot seat in August.
UFC 163 Fighters on the Hot Seat
UFC 163 takes place this Saturday, August 3, in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. Here are the fighters on the hot seat heading into the card:
McCall can hang with the best at flyweight, but the winning part of fighting has been an issue for the 125-pound competitor.
"Uncle Creepy" has fought three times in the UFC, losing twice and fighting to a draw once. However, those losses came against champion Demetrious Johnson and top contender Joseph Benavidez.
Even if his defeats came at the hands of the best in the division, three losses in a row (and zero wins in four UFC fights) is not a good run, no matter who McCall is fighting. His opponent, Illiarde Santos, is not at the level of Johnson and Benavidez, so McCall should get a win here. However, a loss would be detrimental, and a release from the UFC, though not guaranteed, would be at the very least plausible.
Machida is a top light heavyweight, and "The Dragon" is on the verge of another shot against champion Jon Jones. So why is he on the hot seat?
Well, when Jones was presented with a potential rematch against Machida, he was less-than-thrilled, stating that Alexander Gustafsson deserved it more.
Being looked over for the next 205-pound title shot, Machida has a lot to prove against Phil Davis at UFC 163. A win almost certainly guarantees him a spot in the next championship bout. However, a loss would simply prove Jones correct.
Machida isn't getting any younger, and he's already been put to sleep by Jones. If he can't get past Davis, all hope for Machida earning another light heavyweight shot will be all but dead.
If and when Leites is brought up in conversation, plenty of fans immediately recall 25 of the most uneventful minutes in a UFC title fight ever.
At UFC 98, Leites unsuccessfully attempted to draw champion Anderson Silva into a grappling battle, leading to a fight that simply wasn't much of one. Following the fight, Leites was heavily criticized for failing to engage with "The Spider," and after a second consecutive loss, he was released.
Leites desperately needs to redeem himself from that loss to Silva, considering the performance still haunts him. If he can't get through Tom Watson, he's not going to gain back any points with the fans. However, a submission win or an exciting fight could at least make the Silva fight fade somewhat from the minds of many.
Gaff was dominated by Sara McMann in her debut at UFC 159, losing via first-round technical knockout. Now, in her second go-around in the UFC, she takes on Amanda Nunes—the bout will be Nunes' first in the promotion.
Now, the women's bantamweight division isn't exactly crazy-deep, and the UFC won't be looking to make it any thinner. That said, Gaff likely needs a win here to save her job, or at least a good showing.
She's 3-4 in her last seven fights, which doesn't exactly make for a strong resume. Should she get finished by Nunes, don't expect a third fight in the UFC, while a close loss may allow her to see the Octagon once more.
UFC Fight Night 26 Hot Seat
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
UFC Fight Night 26 takes place on August 17 in Boston, Massachusetts. Here are the fighters on the hot seat heading into the card:
Sonnen talks a big game, and that talk has earned him several title shots. Unfortunately for the perennial contender, he's failed to live up to his self-made hype.
The brash fighter has lost a pair of contests in a row after being stopped by Anderson Silva and Jon Jones. Of course, neither is close to a bad loss, but the fact that he was finished so brutally in each contest is not a good sign. Now, Sonnen looks to regain some traction (not to mention some fighting credibility) against Mauricio "Shogun" Rua this month.
A loss here would be Sonnen's third in a row and fourth in his last six fights. He's never getting dropped by the UFC, but if he wants to remain relevant beyond the mic, he's going to need to rack up a "W".
Overeem had a clear path to the title: get through Antonio Silva at UFC 156. He couldn't, and now he has a match up against Travis Browne that is going to be a difficult one.
Now, Overeem is another guy who isn't at risk for getting cut, but considering his KO loss to Silva and his failed drug test a year ago, there are plenty of red flags. "The Demolition Man" is probably a top heavyweight in the world, and the loss to Silva could be described as a fluke. But it still happened, and truly elite guys don't normally fall victim to guys like "Bigfoot".
"The Reem" needs a win here if he wants to be considered a top heavyweight. A loss would simply make him a good heavyweight, quite the fall for someone considered great for so long.
Hall was easily the most dominant fighter on the last season of The Ultimate Fighter. Well, until the finale, when he was defeated by Kelvin Gastelum.
His striking prowess still makes Hall a seriously dangerous fighter, but saying his hype-train was derailed against Gastelum is an understatement. If the TUF veteran wants to be considered as a legitimate middleweight, he absolutely must get through John Howard.
A loss here would make the 185-pound top 10 seem very distant.
UFC Fight Night 27 Hot Seat
UFC Fight Night 27 takes place on August 28 in Indianapolis, Indiana. Here are the fighters on the hot seat heading into the card:
Condit isn't on this list because his career is in trouble, nor is he on this list because he's at risk for falling out of the welterweight top 10.
"The Natural Born Killer" is undeniably a top guy at 170-pounds, but he's on the hot seat because a loss to Martin Kampmann would be a major setback on Condit's run for a second title shot.
Condit fought for the title at UFC 154, losing to Georges St-Pierre via unanimous decision. In his return to the cage, he was defeated by Johny Hendricks via unanimous decision at UFC 158 in a Fight of the Year candidate.
Obviously neither loss is a bad one, and Condit remains a top guy in the division. However, three losses in a row would be a mountain to overcome, and Condit would be as far away from a title as he's been in years. In order to stay in contention, he'll need a win this month.
While Condit is fighting to stay at the top of the division, his opponent, Kampmann, is attempting to make a leap into the division's elite.
Kampmann has proven himself as a legitimate top-10 welterweight, earning plenty of big victories, including a win over Jake Ellenberger. However, "The Hitman" is 3-3 in his last six with losses to the aforementioned Hendricks, Diego Sanchez and Jake Shields.
Long struggling to break into contention, Kampmann has an enormous opportunity (again) to make a major step up. But he has always struggled to make that breakthrough. If he fails to beat Condit in the rematch, we'll have a good idea of what Kampmann's ceiling is, and that ceiling is below fighting for a title.
While neither Kampmann, nor Condit are fighting for their jobs, Hatsu Hioki likely is. The featherweight began his UFC career with back-to-back wins, but now finds himself on a two-fight skid.
Hioki takes on Darren Elkins on the preliminary card, seeking his first win in over a year. If he can't top the Indiana native, Hioki could find himself looking for work elsewhere. That said, a victory would provide him with some much-needed job security.
UFC 164 Hot Seat
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UFC 164 takes place on August 31 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Here are the fighters on the hot seat heading into the card:
Couture is 1-1 in the UFC, but his debut with the promotion was a close split-decision win over K.J. Noons, a result many thought to be flawed. The son of Randy Couture is attempting to break out of his father's shadow in order to make a name for himself, but the fact that Randy is working with Viacom and Bellator now is not a good thing for his son.
The UFC appears to be separating father from son, giving Couture a chance to compete, regardless of what his father is up to with the competition. But a second loss in a row would spell trouble for the Strikeforce veteran. If he can't get past Al Iaquinta, his future with the promotion could be on very shaky ground.
Vera is coming off a Fight of the Night performance against Mauricio "Shogun" Rua from last August, and he's making a return to heavyweight in an attempt to reinvent himself in the UFC.
He'll need to, as Vera is 1-3 with 1 NC in his last five fights. A fourth loss in six appearances could be enough to convince the UFC that they no longer require his services. "The Truth" will probably at least get one more crack at heavyweight, regardless of the UFC 164 outcome against Ben Rothwell, but he's still on the hot seat, and has been on the hot seat for some time now.
Mir is never going to be released by the UFC, so a loss to Josh Barnett won't be his last fight, unless Mir chooses otherwise. But he's lost two fights in a row to Junior dos Santos and Daniel Cormier, and if he can't get past Barnett, Mir's years as a contender are undoubtedly complete.
The former heavyweight champion is a dangerous heavyweight who has dominated fighters he was supposed to dominate, while struggling against top guys. A loss at UFC 164 almost certainly would send him out of the top 10 at heavyweight, while a win would keep him floating around top five.
Barnett was a hot-commodity when he hit the free agent market, and the former UFC heavyweight champion did not make it easy for the promotion to bring him back, proving a hard man to negotiate with. Eventually, he and the UFC came to an agreement, and his long-anticipated return is almost upon us.
But Barnett's reputation sends him to the hot seat at UFC 164. He is currently the No. 10 heavyweight in the official UFC rankings, and he needs a win over Mir to prove he belongs with the top guy.
We've seen other UFC signees fail to live up to expectations in the UFC (see: Hector Lombard, Alistair Overeem), and Barnett's history with performance-enhancing drugs doesn't do him any favors. A loss to Mir would be a major step back for Barnett, who must prove he belongs with the heavyweight elite after beating up on sub-par competition over the past few years.