UFC Fight Night 39: Who's on the Hot Seat?

Sean SmithAnalyst IApril 8, 2014

Roy Nelson celebrates his win over Cheick Kongo after their UFC 159 Mixed Martial Arts heavyweight bout in Newark, NJ, Saturday, April 27,2013.  Nelson won via first round KO. (AP Photo/Gregory Payan)
Gregory Payan

The UFC is headlining a second consecutive fight card with two fighters who could be rapidly closing in on the end of their careers.

At UFC Fight Night 38, Dan Henderson kept his career afloat with a come-from-behind knockout win over a diminishing Mauricio "Shogun" Rua. On Friday, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira will attempt to pick up his first win since October 2012 against Roy Nelson, who has lost two in a row.

While UFC Fight Night 39 isn't packed with stars, there are some big names in need of wins. They might not all be on the chopping block with a loss, but here are the fighters who will need to get their hand raised in order to maintain some sense of UFC job security.


Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and Roy Nelson

Unable to string wins together, Nogueira is no longer viewed as a serious title threat in the heavyweight division. The former Pride FC and interim UFC champion has not won back-to-back fights since submitting Tim Sylvia to claim UFC gold in February 2008.  

At 37 years old, Nogueira isn't the oldest fighter competing inside the Octagon. However, he's getting up there and has more mileage on him than most, with 43 official fights on his resume. 

Should Nogueira's Friday night end in a devastating knockout or another injury, it may be time for "Minotauro" to hang up his gloves.

While he hasn't been competing under the UFC banner as long as Nogueira, Nelson is also 37 years old. He's also endured much wear and tear, as his bout with Nogueira will be his 30th in MMA.

Not far removed from a three-bout winning streak, Nelson owns a spot in the heavyweight Top 10 rankings. However, he's in just as much trouble as Nogueira, having lost two in a row heading into UFC Fight Night 39.

If Nelson performs poorly against Nogueira, UFC brass might decide "Big Country" isn't worth the money they are paying him on the contract he signed prior to his most recent outing. 


Clay Guida

Jan 26, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Clay Guida reacts after defeating Hatsu Hioki (not pictured) during UFC on FOX 6 at the United Center.  Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports
David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

He's only four fights removed from a win over current lightweight champion Anthony Pettis, but Clay Guida's stock has dropped rapidly over the nearly three years that have passed since then.

"The Carpenter" has lost three of his past four fights, with his only win during that span being a controversial split decision against Hatsu Hioki. Moreover, Guida has not lived up to his reputation as an exciting fighter recently.

A win over Tatsuya Kawajiri on Friday could suddenly make Guida a legitimate contender in the 145-pound division. Conversely, a lackluster loss may have him looking for a win or two in a smaller promotion to get back into the big show. 


Chris Camozzi and Andrew Craig

He had won four fights in a row 12 months ago, but Chris Camozzi is now looking to avoid a third consecutive loss on Friday. While he was beaten by stiff competition in Ronaldo Souza and Lorenz Larkin, he's still in a situation where he'll need to perform well at UFC Fight Night 39.

Given that Souza, Larkin and Andrew Craig are all tough matchups, Camozzi might not be cut with a competitive loss on Friday. That said, he needs to give the UFC a reason to keep him around.

Craig's situation also doesn't appear to be a must-win. However, he does need to put forth a solid outing against Camozzi.

The Texan has lost two of his past three fights, with his only win during that time coming via split decision against a fading Chris Leben. Should he lose again on Friday, he would have arguably been the worse fighter in four straight matchups, which is obviously not a good look.