UFC on May 31: Who's on the Hot Seat?

Sean SmithAnalyst IMay 29, 2014

USA Today

This coming weekend, the UFC will hold two different fight cards on the same day.

From two different continents, the world's top MMA organization will provide fans with fights throughout the day on May 31. Many have argued that the UFC is putting on too many events and thinning out its fight cards, but this move shows the promotion isn't planning on dialing back anytime soon. 

With so many fights being contested in one day, many competitors could be battling for their UFC jobs. Here are the fighters who are sitting on the hot seat heading into Saturday.

Demian Maia

After starting his welterweight career with three straight wins, Demian Maia has hit some speedbumps.

The Brazilian has suffered decision losses to Jake Shields and Rory MacDonald in his past two outings. While those performances severely damaged Maia's chances of getting a title shot in the near future, they didn't bounce him from the UFC's official Top 10 rankings.

While he's still among the best in the 170-pound class, Maia is set to see a huge step down in competition. Originally scheduled to meet Mike Pierce, he will now welcome Alexander Yakovlev to the Octagon.

It is a matchup that promises to get Maia back into the win column. However, should he find a way to mess this up, he will have lost three in a row and could be released from the UFC roster. 

Paulo Thiago and Gasan Umalatov

When he began his UFC career with three wins in four fights, Paulo Thiago looked to be a legitimate contender in the welterweight division. Since then, the Brazilian has struggled to maintain his spot on the UFC roster.

He has gone 2-5 over his past seven fights. On Saturday, he will meet an opponent, Gasan Umalatov, who has not won inside the Octagon. Should Thiago drop to 2-6 in eight fights after a loss to an unproven fighter like Umalatov, the Brazilian might be seen as disposable by the UFC brass.

Although Umalatov isn't expected to win against Thiago, he'll also have to perform well to remain on the roster. Coming off a loss to Neil Magny, the Russian can't afford to fall to 0-2 without showing some potential in an unfavorable matchup. 

Drew Dober

With a loss to Sean Spencer in his first Octagon showing, Drew Dober finds himself in a must-win position.

These days, fighters who start their UFC careers with a 0-2 record are quickly returned to smaller promotions. Since Dober is meeting a UFC newcomer, Nick Hein, on Saturday, that will likely be especially true for him.

At 25 years old, Dober has the time to turn things around, but he might have to do so on a smaller stage should he fail this weekend.

Andy Ogle and Maximo Blanco

Having fought Cole Miller and Charles Oliveira in his past two fights, Andy Ogle hasn't exactly had it easy. That doesn't change the fact that he'll be looking to avoid a third straight loss at UFC Fight Night: Munoz vs. Mousasi, though.

If Ogle loses Saturday to Maximo Blanco, he'll have a 1-4 UFC record. While the 25-year-old has potential, it will be tough for the UFC to keep him around with that in mind.

Similarly, Blanco has lost two in a row and has gone 1-3 inside the Octagon. Like Ogle, he'll probably need to win this weekend to keep his UFC career going.

Ricardo Abreu and Wagner Silva

This one shouldn't require too much explanation. It's your standard UFC contract eliminator between The Ultimate Fighter contestants. 

Ricardo Abreu and Wagner Silva were both participants on TUF: Brazil 3, and both fell short of the finals. The Wanderlei Silva-coached fighters both had their TUF hopes come to an end in the semifinals, where Abreu lost in a narrow decision and Silva fell via submission.

With only nine combined official MMA bouts, Abreu and Silva are inexperienced. This will be a big opportunity for one of them to take a big step forward and continue his growth inside the Octagon.

Marcos Rogerio de Lima and Richardson Moreira

Marcos Rogerio de Lima and Richardson Moreira were also participants on TUF: Brazil 3.

Like Abreu and Silva, De Lima and Moreira were also eliminated in the semifinals. Team Sonnen's De Lima was submitted in the first round, while Team Silva's Moreira suffered a knockout loss in the second stanza.

Both fighters have aspirations to remain on the UFC roster, but the loser of this matchup will likely have to return to regional competition.

Pedro Munhoz

Feb 21, 2014; Las Vegas, NV, USA; UFC bantamweight Pedro Munhoz participates in the UFC 170 weigh-in at Mandalay Bay Events Center. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

In February Pedro Munhoz had a rough welcome to the Octagon opposite bantamweight contender Raphael Assuncao.

Munhoz went the distance but was soundly defeated on the scorecards. No fighter wants to start his UFC career with a loss, but Munhoz likely gained some valuable experience from that loss to an elite 135-pounder.

At the same time, the loss puts him in a bad spot. Meeting UFC newcomer Matt Hobar on Saturday, Munhoz will need to rebound to remain with the world's top MMA organization.


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