At UFC 173, Renan Barao will attempt to maintain his spot atop the bantamweight division.
The Brazilian champion is set to clash with TJ Dillashaw, who has posted a solid 4-2 UFC record. With one of those losses coming against Raphael Assuncao, he was not at the front of the line for a shot at Barao. However, an Assuncao injury led to Dillashaw getting the call.
Barao last appeared at UFC 169 in February, stopping Urijah Faber in the first round. Against Dillashaw, the Brazilian will be looking to make it two in a row against Team Alpha Male fighters.
Obviously, Barao and Dillashaw have job security at this point in their UFC careers. However, several UFC 173 competitors could be battling for their spots on the roster this Saturday.
Here are the fighters who are sitting on the hot seat heading into the weekend.
At 43 years old, Dan Henderson could now be fighting to keep his career going every time he steps into the Octagon.
Even with a knockout win over Mauricio Rua in his latest outing, many called for Henderson to call it quits. The former Pride FC champion has taken a lot of damage over the years and doesn't appear to have what it takes to make a serious run at dethroning light heavyweight champion Jon Jones.
Beating Daniel Cormier would put Henderson much closer to proving that wrong. However, Henderson is a massive underdog heading into this matchup for a reason.
While a loss to Cormier wouldn't change Henderson's position in the 205-pound division, a lopsided bout could force Hendo to rethink his future in MMA.
Since bursting back into the Octagon with a shocking knockout win over Edson Barboza, Jamie Varner has dropped three of his past four fights. With his lone win during that time coming via split decision, he is slumping.
Having lost two in a row heading into UFC 173, Varner must win Saturday. Failing to pick up a victory against James Krause this weekend would mean three consecutive losses, which is usually grounds for dismissal from the UFC roster.
With a 1-1 UFC record, Krause should be safe no matter the result of this matchup. At the same time, he'll want to pick up a win over Varner to avoid switching positions with his fellow WEC veteran.
Although Sam Sicilia hasn't lost multiple fights in a row, he has been struggling.
Since maintaining a spot on the UFC roster by beating fellow The Ultimate Fighter 15 contestant Cristiano Marcello in his first Octagon appearance, Sicilia has only managed one win in his past four bouts. Only one fight removed from a victory over Godofredo Pepey, Sicilia might not deserve to be in this position, but he could be fighting for his job at UFC 173.
Opposite any veteran UFC featherweight, Sicilia probably wouldn't need to win Saturday. However, he's matched up with UFC newcomer Aaron Phillips. Pairing a 1-4 record over five fights with a loss to an opponent with no experience inside the Octagon could mean Sicilia would have to return to a smaller organization.
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