UFC 165: Who's on the Hot Seat?
While four fighters will be competing for UFC gold at UFC 165, others will be battling to remain employed.
This Saturday's UFC fight card is headlined by a light heavyweight championship bout between Jon Jones and Alexander Gustafsson. In the co-main event, Renan Barao will try to remain interim bantamweight champ by beating Eddie Wineland.
However, a handful of fighters on the preliminary card will be competing for much more modest accolades. For these unfortunate few, their UFC jobs could be on the line.
Some of the following fighters are in much greater jeopardy than others, but here are the five fighters sitting on the hot seat heading into UFC 165.
In one way, it's surprising to see Nandor Guelmino even preparing to step into the Octagon on Saturday.
Fellow Strikeforce finale sacrificial lamb Dion Staring wasn't so lucky. Both were handed impossible odds in matchups with Daniel Cormier and Josh Barnett, respectively. While Staring tumbled back down to regional shows, Guelmino finds himself competing on MMA's biggest stage.
The UFC matchmakers were kind to Guelmino, offering the Austrian a fight with a UFC newcomer in what will likely be his lone chance to prove himself inside the Octagon. Should Guelmino lose to Daniel Omielanczuk on Saturday, though, it'll likely be retirement or a return to European promotions for the 37-year-old.
Alex Caceres hasn't lost since February 2012, but his UFC career could hinge on the result of his UFC 165 drug screening.
Following what was a split-decision victory over Kyung Ho Kang, Caceres had his win overturned to a no-contest due to testing positive for marijuana metabolites.
Although the UFC has outwardly pushed for more leniency in marijuana testing, the organization suspended Caceres six months for his failed drug test on foreign soil. The promotion who released Matthew Riddle for multiple marijuana infractions.
Even if he beats Roland Delorme at UFC 165, Caceres will probably need to test clean to remain on the UFC bantamweight roster.
Michel Prazeres came up short against Paulo Thiago on late notice in his UFC debut, so the Brazilian hopes a move to 155 pounds will help him earn his first UFC win.
Undefeated before his first Octagon appearance against Thiago, Prazeres is still a promising prospect. However, a loss to UFC newcomer Jesse Ronson at UFC 165 could derail his hopes of rising in the UFC lightweight division.
A three-fight losing streak is one of the more common reasons for fighters to be released from the UFC. However, an 0-2 start in the world's top MMA promotion has also become grounds for a fighter to be cut in most cases.
Technically speaking, Chris Clements is undefeated inside the Octagon. However, the Canadian could just as easily be sporting an 0-2 record with MMA's top promotion.
After squeaking by Keith Wisniewski with a split-decision win in his UFC debut, Clements was submitted by Matthew Riddle at UFC 149. Only Riddle's marijuana usage kept Clements from suffering the first loss of his short UFC career.
With such an underwhelming UFC run thus far, Clements has not yet earned job security. If the UFC brass still view his fight with Riddle as a losing performance, the 37-year-old may be in need of a win—or at least a strong showing—against Stephen Thompson on Saturday.
In all likelihood, Ivan Menjivar's UFC roster spot is safe heading into UFC 165.
The Top 10 bantamweight has not lost consecutive fights and is set to meet UFC newcomer Wilson Reis. Lines are not set, but Menjivar is likely to be a heavy favorite and should find a way to bounce back from his recent loss to Urijah Faber.
What happens if Reis upsets Menjivar, though?
In the case, the "Pride of El Salvador" would have lost three of four fights, culminating in a defeat to a fighter unproven inside the Octagon. Even with that, he would probably be given another opportunity, but crazier cuts have happened.