UFC Fight Night 32: Who's on the Hot Seat?
There's no time to slow down now. Four events in November? No problem. This Saturday, MMA fans will be paddled past the halfway pole that is UFC Fight Night 32, going down from Goiania, Brazil.
We're here to help you get your bearings. You know about the storylines surrounding the main and the co-main and all that stuff. But what if you turn over a few more rocks? You know, delve a little deeper? There's drama to be had all over the place, including some people who may be fighting for their UFC lives.
Here are five fighters currently astride what we like to call the hot seat. They are presented in the order in which they appear on the card.
Thanks to his pedigree on The Ultimate Fighter and his I'll-just-brawl-this-one-out combat style, Sam Sicilia may have banked some extra goodwill with fans and brass.
But he has a few demerits on his record as well coming into this weekend. First, he's lost two straight, leaving him one defeat short of the dreaded three-loss Mendoza Line. Second, he was especially non-dominant in an April loss to the non-dominant Maximo Blanco, a loser of two straight at the time as well. Third, he's facing Godofredo Castro, a man on his own brink after racking up a 1-2 UFC record.
In short: Another bad loss would probably spell curtains for Sicilia.
True, Jeremy Stephens is 1-0 since dropping to featherweight, where he'll compete on Saturday against fast-rising Brazilian Rony Jason. Stephens is also an electrifying knockout artist when he's on his game.
So he's probably not teetering on too steep of a precipice here. But a humiliating loss at the hands of Jason—which is by no means outside the realm of possibility—would be Stephens' fourth loss in five fights. The UFC and its self-described bloated roster may want to cut bait with him after that.
The 32-year-old welterweight always fights hard and is popular thanks in part to his second life as a member of an elite police force in Brazil.
But a loss to young gun Brandon Thatch would be his fifth loss in seven contests. Surely a lower but still respectable promotion like World Series of Fighting would be more than happy to snap him up.
Rafael Cavalcante is an exciting fighter who just came over from Strikeforce. But in his Strikeforce swan song, his win was overturned after a failed drug test, and his UFC debut ended in a first-round knockout to Thiago Silva.
He needs to plant a flag on Saturday. If he can't, the UFC may no longer have a use for a light heavyweight who is winless in his last three and has lost four of his last five, no matter how exciting he is—especially given the solid depth that division has always enjoyed.
Saved by the drug test.
Igor Pokrajac may already have been toast if Joey Beltran, who decisioned Pokrajac in December, hadn't set the laboratory ablaze with his urine sample after their bout.
If he drops this one to Cavalcante, it will mark four straight winless fights, and none of them was especially interesting or impressive (that grindfest defeat to Ryan Jimmo and that second-round sparring-buddy armbar loss to Vinny Magalhaes come to mind). I'd say he's a surefire casualty if he comes up short.
Stranger things have happened.
A loss to Vitor Belfort would be Dan Henderson's third straight defeat. And don't forget how plodding and, well, old the 43-year-old looked in his losses to Rashad Evans and Lyoto Machida. Also don't forget that the ever-popular Henderson and UFC leaders haven't always been supremely copacetic.
Lastly, don't forget that "Hendo" makes a truckload of money—$250,000 just to show in the Evans fight. That's good money that could be allocated away from a 43-year-old wrestler should he no longer be able to deliver the goods in a main or co-main event.
I'm not saying it will definitely happen. I'm not saying I want it to happen. But if Henderson lost and he was released not long after, would you be all that surprised?