UFC Fight Night 27: Who's on the Hot Seat
The second UFC event on the Fox Sports 1 network, UFC Fight Night 27, will go down Wednesday, and several fighters will once again put their livelihoods on the line.
Some will enter the Octagon desperate for a win because of recent misfortunes. Others will make the march in an extra-nervous state because of an extraordinary opportunity.
Of the 24 fighters set to roll at UFC Fight Night 27, here are the six who will be under the most pressure.
His two straight losses under the Zuffa LLC banner have created a stressful scenario for lightweight knockout artist Roger Bowling.
Bowling first saw his two-fight Strikeforce winning streak come to a halt when he dropped a decision to Tarec Saffiedine last August. Eight months later, Bowling lost his promotional debut via KO to Anthony Njokuani at UFC on Fox 7.
If Bowling cannot get past Abel Trujillo—a Blackzillians product who got outclassed in his second fight with the company by Khabib Nurmagomedov—then the former welterweight slugger may receive his walking papers.
Zak Cummings didn't get an immediate shot in the big show after his time on The Ultimate Fighter, and if he loses his promotional debut against Ben Alloway, he may not get any more chances with the company.
Cummings, a former JUCO wrestler who dropped his first-round bout to Dylan Andrews on TUF 17, has won his last two scraps via first-round submission.
But regardless of his recent success, the 29-year-old Cummings will undoubtedly partake in his most momentous bout when he faces Alloway.
A win over Alloway, who earned "Knockout of the Night" honors in his promotional debut, means a bright future in the welterweight division for Cummings. A loss, however, could result in Cummings becoming a one-and-done UFC fighter.
Once unanimously considered a top-five featherweight, Hatsu Hioki has recently allowed close decision losses to radically depreciate his value in the division.
Hioki had reeled off six consecutive wins, including two in the UFC, before dropping narrow back-to-back decisions in his last two bouts to world-ranked foes Ricardo Lamas and Clay Guida.
The UFC's brass made matters a little easier for Hioki at UFC Fight Night 27 by giving him a slightly less polished opponent in Darren Elkins. But even though Elkins isn't a world-ranked featherweight, he's awfully similar stylistically to Guida, and he's won five of six fights in the UFC.
A high school state champion wrestler in Indiana, Elkins has made a living grounding opponents and grinding out decision wins.
If Hioki, a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, cannot use his slick ground game to control Elkins, he could lose another close decision.
Three losses in a row typically results in a pink slip, even for a well-rounded and proven vet like Hioki.
Rafael dos Anjos
Rafael dos Anjos has won four straight bouts in the UFC's lightweight divsion and has many pundits chattering about his potential.
However, before the 28-year-old Brazilian can start lobbying for a title shot, he must first knock off a world-ranked opponent.
The 10th-ranked dos Anjos will get the opportunity to tangle with a top-10 lightweight for the first time in his career when he locks horns with Donald Cerrone (No. 6).
If dos Anjos can prevent Cerrone from starting another winning streak, then the heavy-handed Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt can certainly start to expect more high-profile opponents in the near future.
Carlos Condit still rightfully has stability in the UFC's welterweight division, even after back-to-back losses to the division's top two fighters in Georges St-Pierre and Johny Hendricks.
A second loss to Martin Kampmann in their rematch, however, would have pundits whispering of Condit's descent into mediocrity.
Only one other instance in his career, in 2006, had Condit dropped two straight fights. That year, The Natural Born Killer suffered successive losses to Jake Shields and Pat Healy.
Condit bounced back from that skid nicely, winning 13 of his next 14 bouts, including five of six in the UFC. The only man to best Condit in that span was Kampmann, who handed him a controversial split decision loss in his promotional debut in 2009.
The 29-year-old Condit simply cannot afford another decision loss, even if it's a contentious one to another one of the division's stalwarts.
In the same vein, a convincing win over the ever-game Kampmann instantly catapults Condit back into the 170-pound title scope.
He won't carry quite the hype that Conor McGregor did into his debut in the UFC, but welterweight prospect Brandon Thatch should aim to duplicate the Irishman's intensity in his promotional debut.
At 6'2" and sporting a 72-inch reach, Thatch has astoundingly amassed eight straight first-round finishes since losing the second fight of his career in 2008. In that time frame, Thatch has won five bouts via KO and three by submission.
Thatch will get his chance to make a solid first impression on the UFC's brass when he squares off with promotional vet and The Ultimate Fighter Season 13 alum Justin Edwards.
In his last bout, Edwards notched the most significant win of his career with a 45-second submission win over Josh Neer.
Thatch can make a McGregor-like entrance to the UFC with an enthralling win over the battle tested Edwards. A loss to Edwards, on the contrary, would put Thatch's name straight into the shuffle in the deep 170-pound division.