UFC 129 Fight Card: Who's on the Hot Seat?

Bryan Levick@@BryanLevickMMAContributor IApril 23, 2011

UFC 129 Fight Card: Who's on the Hot Seat?

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    When I first started writing "Who's on the Hot Seat," I was able to write it for every major UFC card/PPV. Lately, for many different reasons, I haven't been able to write it on a consistent basis. Hopefully this will be a new start for the column as I think it's very original and can be very interesting depending on the participants of each particular card.

    UFC 129 presents a pretty wide range of fighters who may be on the verge of seeking employment elsewhere. From the fringe fighters all the way up to a top caliber fighter, this pay-per-view makes for some interesting scenarios.

    As usual, if any of you have any thoughts you would like to share I more than welcome them. Whether you agree or disagree with some of my arguments, it's always nice to hear why you think the way you do and can lead to some fun conversations with a diverse group of mixed martial arts fans.

    If any of you are interested, I wrote an article containing my main card picks which you can find here. Let me know what your thoughts are.

UFC Light Heavyweight: Jason Brilz

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    Let's face facts—Brilz is 35-years-old and he's not going to be making any noise in the UFC light heavyweight division anytime soon. He's been out for 11 months due to an injury which caused him to skip fighting his UFC 129 opponent, Vladimir Matyushenko, back in November at UFC 122.

    His last time out, he lost a gut-wrenching and heart-breaking split decision to Antonio Rogerio Nogueira last May at UFC 114. Not only did the fans feel Brilz came out on top that night, so did UFC President Dana White.

    Here we are almost a year later and Brilz unfortunately has a "L" next to his name. Another loss here runs his UFC record to 3-3 and riding a two-fight losing streak. He is very replaceable and doesn't stand out in any manner that could possibly lead to too many more opportunities.

    In fact, I think it's safe to assume that if he loses next Saturday he will no longer be under contract with the UFC.

UFC Light Heavyweight: Randy Couture

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    LAS VEGAS, NV - DECEMBER 01:  Mixed martial artist and actor Randy Couture arrives at the third annual Fighters Only World Mixed Martial Arts Awards 2010 at the Palms Casino Resort December 1, 2010 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Image
    Ethan Miller/Getty Images

    I know, I know, most of you must think I am crazy, but give me a chance to explain and you will see exactly why I included the former UFC light heavyweight and heavyweight champion on this list. I think you will find it interesting when it's all said and done.

    When I say Couture is on the hot seat, I don't mean that he is in any jeopardy of being released by the UFC should he lose to Lyoto Machida. If he winds up suffering a brutal beating and finally starts to show his age, then maybe I could see White recommending that "The Natural" hang up the gloves once and for all, but it will be Couture's decision.

    The question here is, what really happens if Couture wins? I know he has made headlines this past week by saying he was leaning towards retirement, but does his mind change if he comes out and controls Machida and walks away the convincing winner?

    What does he do if White, now totally on the other end of the spectrum, offers Couture the winner of the Jon Jones-Rashed Evans bout scheduled for the summer? Would Couture be able to turn down an opportunity for one last crack at a championship as well as a multi-million dollar payday?

    So when I say Couture is on the hot seat, I mean he's kind of on his own hot seat. Being the one in total control could make the decision, that for most of us seems obvious, much more difficult.

UFC Bantamweight: Ivan Menjivar

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    I really don't know much about Menjivar other than he trains alongside St. Pierre and once fought Matt Serra at UFC 48 in June of 2004. He took Serra the distance, but wound up losing via unanimous decision. This Saturday he will face Charlie Valencia on the under-card of UFC 129.

    Menjivar holds a career record of 21-8 and, including the loss to Serra, he is 0-2 fighting under the Zuffa banner. Last December he lost to Brad Pickett via unanimous decision at WEC 48. He is only 1-3 in his last four bouts and it's hard to imagine Menjivar sticking around should he lose his second UFC/WEC bout in a row.

    Menjivar has proven in the past that he comes up short whenever he fights a big name fighter. He has lost to Caol Uno, GSP, Urijah Faber, Serra and Bart Palaszewski. He has however beaten Jeff Curran in 2002 and Joe Lauzon in 2005.

    With all of that being said, should Menjivar lose at UFC 129 he should expect a phone call from the UFC offices sometime during the following week.

UFC Middleweight: Jason MacDonald

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    MacDonald is a tough, crafty Canadian with some solid grappling skills. He has been in and around the UFC as much as anyone I have ever seen. White knows he can count on MacDonald to show up in shape and be ready to fight no matter who his opponent is.

    That is one reason he is back fighting in front of his countrymen for what will be a fourth time. Another reason, is he caught a bit of a bad break last time out, literally and figuratively, when he suffered a broken leg against John Salter at UFC 113 last May.

    MacDonald was fighting a take-down attempt by Salter early on in the first round when he landed awkwardly and lost by a very painful TKO. Now he's back and will face fellow veteran Ryan Jensen who may be in trouble himself should he lose. Two desperate fighters could lead to an exciting bout.

    During his first tour of duty with the UFC, "The Athlete," was 5-5. He will look to even his UFC record with a win and extend his stay for at least one more fight. There is no question that he will be released should he lose next weekend.

UFC Middleweight: Ryan Jensen

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    If you go by his last six UFC bouts and the fact he has been alternating wins and losses, then you would be led to believe Jensen is due for a win when he faces off against MacDonald at UFC 129. It is also that inconsistency that, if coupled with a loss to MacDonald, could lead to Jensen receiving a pink slip.

    Last time we saw Jensen, he was tapping out to The Ultimate Fighter season 11 middleweight winner, Court McGee, in the third round of their UFC 121 bout. That loss ran his overall record to 15-7 and his UFC record to a paltry 2-5. It's surprising to many that he has held off the Grim Reaper for this long.

    So it wouldn't be hard to understand if Jensen loses to MacDonald and finds himself looking at the classifieds a few days later. Six of his career seven losses have come by submission which is ironically MacDonald's strength. The Nova Scotia native has won 24 bouts with 18 coming by the way of tap-out.

UFC Light Heavyweight: Lyoto Machida

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    As I stated in my predictions, we are not even two years removed from hearing Joe Rogan declare it "The Machida Era," after "The Dragon" knocked Rashad Evans out during the second round of their title bout at UFC 98. Many wondered who, if anyone, could solve The Machida Puzzle.

    Since that time, Machida defended his title in very controversial fashion against Mauricio "Shogun" Rua at UFC 104. Although he walked away with his title, there weren't too many people who believed he actually defeated Rua. "Shogun" landed kicks to Machida's legs and mid-section at will. The two would rematch seven months later at UFC 113 in Montreal.

    It didn't take Rua long to show who the better man was that night. He fought off a couple of Machida take-downs and caught the Shotokan Karate Blackbelt with an overhand right, sending Machida crashing to the canvas. A few punches later and Machida suffered his first loss while Rua claimed the title many felt was already his.

    He would then face former champion Quinton "Rampage" Jackson in the main event of UFC 123 in Detroit this past November. This time around, it was Machida on the wrong end of a decision. Jackson was awarded a split-decision victory, but it was Machida who many felt won the match.

    So if you look at his record, you will see he lost his last two bouts. If you want to get technical and say he defeated Rampage, then you have to do what's good for the gander and say he lost the first bout to Rua. Either way, he is 1-2 in his last three fights. Can he suffer his third career loss in a row and still keep his spot in the UFC?

    At this point I can't see White telling Machida to pack his bags should he lose to Couture, but stranger things have happened!!