UFC 1 on FOX: Cain Velasquez vs. Junior Dos Santos, Who's on the Hot Seat?
November 12 is just four days away. All of the hard work that Dana White and Company has put in, all the long hours they have worked is about to show them some of the reward they so richly deserve. History is upon us folks: The UFC makes its debut on network television as they present UFC 1 on FOX: Cain Velasquez vs. Junior Dos Santos.
The UFC Heavyweight Championship will be contested during prime-time hours on network television—how awesome is that? Kudos to White, the Fertittas and the FOX executives who put this historic event together. For all of the people who are complaining that only one fight is going to be shown on Saturday night, they need to be thankful for what they do have rather than focusing on what they don't.
There will be nine other fights taking place on the undercard. So while I am trying to accentuate the positive, the reality is there are fighters who are competing for their UFC lives. Let's take a look at who those fighters are.
Johnson has been out since March due to an injury. He was last seen being punished by Amir Sadollah at UFC Fight Night: Nogueira vs. Davis. Sadollah controlled Johnson before tapping out to elbow strikes in the second round.
To be fair to Johnson, he did take the fight on just two weeks' notice. That isn't why I am putting him on this list; it's the inconsistency he has shown since losing to James Wilks in the welterweight finale of Season 9 of The Ultimate Fighter.
He is currently 12-9 overall with a UFC record of 3-3. While he tends to be exciting at times he can't seem to string any serious victories together. A loss here would push him below the .500 mark in the UFC and his third loss in his last four fights.
If he puts on an exciting, go-for-broke fight with Clay Harvison he may be able to get by with another loss and earn one last shot inside the Octagon, but there is no room in the UFC's welterweight division for a fighter who can't seem to take that next step and become a fighter who is too valuable to lose.
Harvison will be fighting in the UFC for the third time come Saturday night. In his first bout he defeated Justin Edwards via split decision at The Ultimate Fighter 13 season finale. He followed that up with a submission loss to Seth Baczynski early in the second round at UFC Fight Night: Shields vs. Ellenberger.
It's hard for a new fighter to survive two losses in a row this early in their UFC career. He will need to put on a performance of a lifetime against Johnson if he wants to be able to survive another loss. At 31 years old, Harvison is in a do-or-die mode.
It was only a few years ago that fans were clamoring, begging for the UFC to sign Yamamoto to challenge then-WEC featherweight champion Urijah Faber. Times have certainly changed for both fighters, as well as the WEC. Faber lost the title and his subsequent two attempts at recapturing the championship, which caused him to drop down to the bantamweight division.
The WEC was merged into the UFC and Yamamoto has gone just 1-3 since 2009. Before that he was out of action for almost a year-and-a-half. His debut in the Octagon was an unsuccessful one as he lost to Demetrius Johnson at UFC 126.
He is now 34 years old and seems to have lost the fire that made him one of the more exciting fighters in all of MMA while running roughshod over his competition from 2001-2007. Before getting injured he was on a 14-fight win streak.
Does he have one more run left in him? It would certainly be nice to see, especially considering many of his Japanese brethren haven't fared all that well since arriving in the UFC. Maybe the drop to 135 lbs will breathe some new life into his career, but if his fight with Johnson showed us anything, he has lost the speed and skill that made him so feared.
Two losses in two fights in the UFC will be hard for him to survive. The fan in me wants to believe he won't be getting a phone call from Joe Silva next week saying "Thanks, but no thanks, your services are no longer needed."
"Bruce Leeroy" burst onto the scene in The Ultimate Fighter 12. He had personality and was a character the producers focused on in the beginning stages of the show. He won two fights on the show before losing to eventual finalist Michael Johnson in the quarterfinals.
Things haven't gone much better since the end of the show, as Caceres has lost his first two fights inside the Octagon. He lost both times via rear-naked choke. Mackens Semerzier defeated him in the first round of their bout at UFC Fight Night; Nogueira vs. Davis. In August he lost in the second round to Jim Hettes.
He is 5-4 overall and will not survive a third consecutive loss in the UFC. For all of his flair and personality, he hasn't shown anything inside the cage to prove he is a UFC-caliber fighter. It's lose and go home for Caceres.
Times have certainly been tough on Escovedo. His triumph over a serious staph infection that cost him almost three years of his career is nothing short of remarkable. A former WEC featherweight champion, Escovedo is just 1-4 in his last five bouts.
He was last seen being knocked out by Takeya Mizugaki at UFC 135. Before that he lost a unanimous decision to Renan Barao at UFC 130. As with any other fighter in the organization, it's very difficult to survive two straight losses in the UFC, let alone three.
That goes for Escovedo—if he loses again on Saturday night, he will not be employed much longer. He needs to make the most of this situation. He may have been competitive in his two losses, but at the end of the day, a loss is still a loss.