UFC 174: Who's on the Hot Seat?

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UFC 174: Who's on the Hot Seat?
Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

At UFC 174, Demetrious Johnson will look to defend his flyweight championship again.

With three straight title defenses heading into his matchup with Ali Bagautinov, Mighty Mouse is carving his name deeper into the UFC history books every time he steps into the Octagon. So, while the pressure is always on him, Johnson has as much job security as almost anybody on the UFC roster.

Likewise, Bagautinov should have a long UFC career ahead of him. The Russian is undefeated inside the Octagon and could still be improving at 28 years old.

Other UFC 174 competitors are in much deeper trouble than Johnson and Bagautinov. Some could be battling for their UFC careers this weekend. The following fighters are sitting on the hot seat heading into Saturday's fight card in Vancouver, Canada.

 

Andrei Arlovski

He last stepped into the Octagon in March 2008, when he picked up a knockout win over Jake O'Brien, but Andrei Arlovski is set to make a surprising return this weekend.

The former heavyweight champion has posted an 8-5 record since leaving the world's top MMA promotion. More recently, though, The Pit Bull has won six of his past seven bouts. Only Anthony Johnson has beaten Arlovski since the Belarusian finished his short Strikeforce career.

At 35 years old, Arlovski probably doesn't have many fights left in him, but he was brought in as a big-name addition to a shallow UFC heavyweight division.

Nobody is expecting Arlovski to make a run at the heavyweight championship, but he could be a top-10 UFC heavyweight, and the UFC brass is likely expecting that from him in order for his contract to be worthwhile to them.

Arlovski's value will be tested right away, as he takes on No. 13-ranked Brendan Schaub on Saturday. If Arlovski loses badly, his comeback won't be long-lived. 

 

Mike Easton

USA TODAY Sports

The UFC matchmakers have not been easy on Mike Easton recently.

In his past three fights, The Hulk has been beaten by now-bantamweight champion T.J. Dillashaw as well as ranked contenders Raphael Assuncao and Brad Pickett. Despite the high-level competition, the slump has put Easton's UFC career in jeopardy.

A loss to unranked Yves Jabouin on Saturday would be Easton's fourth in a row. Winless since July 2012, Easton might have to rebound with a smaller show and earn his way back to the UFC.

All that said, Easton is looking at a favorable matchup. If he can work inside on Jabouin and get this fight to the ground, he may even be able to finish.

 

Tae Hyun Bang and Kajan Johnson

Unproven lightweights Tae Hyun Bang and Kajan Johnson will need to make an impression this weekend.

In his UFC debut, Bang was beaten by Mairbek Taisumov. At 31 years old, the South Korean can't really be considered a prospect any longer, so he'll need to produce now. An 0-2 start inside the Octagon with both bouts coming against UFC newcomers would pretty much ensure Bang's release.

While Johnson will be competing in his first official UFC bout on Saturday, he's had his chance to make it onto the UFC roster. The Canadian was a contestant on The Ultimate Fighter: Nations, where he was beaten by Chad Laprise in the semifinals.

Bang and Johnson are both skilled enough to compete at this level, but one of them will likely be released unless they earn Fight of the Night honors.

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