At UFC Fight Night 37, Alexander Gustafsson will look to earn a second shot at the light heavyweight championship by beating Jimi Manuwa.
In September, Gustafsson fought to a narrow decision against 205-pound champion Jon Jones. Although the titleholder appeared to absorb more damage, he won on the scorecards and is now preparing to defend his belt against Glover Teixeira at UFC 172 in April.
Meanwhile, Manuwa has been surging up the light heavyweight rankings. The dangerous striker has stopped his first three opponents. With an impressive showing against Gustafsson, he could cut in line and become the top contender in the 205-pound class.
While Gustafsson and Manuwa are on long leashes, a couple of UFC Fight Night 37 competitors could be battling for their employment with the world's top MMA promotion. Here are the fighters who are more than likely in need of a win on Saturday to keep their UFC careers going.
Replacing an injured Gustafsson at UFC on Fuel TV 9, Ilir Latifi had a rough introduction to the Octagon against Gegard Mousasi. Although he was beaten soundly by the former Strikeforce champion, Latifi was offered another UFC bout for his efforts.
At UFC Fight Night 37, the Swedish light heavyweight will meet French kickboxer Cyrille Diabate. Following the fight with Mousasi, which saw him jabbed into oblivion, Latifi could be looking at another long night.
Despite losing in his last outing, Diabate should have a little more slack than his adversary. Prior to losing to Manuwa, who is now among the best the light heavyweight class, Diabate had won two fights in a row.
While it is still a tough matchup for Latifi, he'll likely need to win to maintain a spot on the UFC roster. These days, starting a UFC career with two losses is a good way to get booted back down to regional competition, and the relatively unknown 205-pounder isn't a big enough draw to stick around unless he starts winning.
Similarly, David Grant will be looking to avoid sliding to 0-2 inside the Octagon on Saturday.
A Team Rousey member on The Ultimate Fighter 18, he slid into the finals when his semifinal opponent Anthony Gutierrez failed to make 135 pounds at the weigh-in. At the finale, Grant was submitted by Chris Holdsworth and finished as the season's male bantamweight runner-up.
Most TUF finalists get another crack at competing inside the Octagon, so the Englishman is now prepared to meet Roland Delorme this weekend. However, Grant will almost certainly be looking for a new promotion if he loses to Delorme at UFC Fight Night 37.
Delorme’s stock would take hit with a loss to Grant, but he should be off the chopping block heading into this weekend. The TUF 14 veteran is coming off of a loss to a surging Alex Caceres and owned a 3-0 UFC record heading into that matchup.
Considering he was handed a spot in the TUF finals, Grant still has to prove he belongs with the world's top MMA promotion.