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UFC Fight Night 59: Who's on the Hot Seat in Boston This Sunday?

Sean SmithAnalyst IJanuary 14, 2015

Sep 27, 2014; Las Vegas, NV, USA; John Howard gets ready to fight Brian Ebersole during a welterweight fight during UFC 178 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports
USA TODAY Sports

The UFC Fight Night 59 promos might lead one to believe otherwise, but Conor McGregor actually is not the only fighter stepping into the Octagon on Sunday.

His main event bout with Dennis Siver has gotten almost all the attention. However, there are some other matchups worth watching at the UFC Fight Night 59 card in Boston.

Namely, Donald Cerrone returns to the cage on short notice for a third bout against Benson Henderson. Riding six straight wins, Cowboy will look to avenge multiple losses this weekend and move closer to a lightweight title shot in the process.

Outside the two headlining fights, the UFC Fight Night 59 is somewhat lackluster, but there will likely be a number of competitors battling for their UFC lives, which could lead to some entertaining undercard contests. Here are the individuals sitting on the hot seat heading into UFC Fight Night 59. 

John Howard and Lorenz Larkin

August 30, 2014; Sacramento, CA, USA; Lorenz Larkin (red gloves) fights against Derek Brunson (blue gloves) during the middleweight bout of UFC 177 at Sleep Train Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
USA TODAY Sports

While John Howard and Lorenz Larkin have both had some solid outings against tough competition, it looks like the noteworthy welterweights could be battling for their roster spots this weekend.

In 2013, Howard returned to the UFC roster and picked up wins over Uriah Hall and Siyar Bahadurzada. However, 2014 did not go nearly as well for Doomsday, as he ran into better grapplers, namely Ryan LaFlare and Brian Ebersole. A bout with a kickboxer like Larkin gives Howard a chance to rebound, but a third loss could lead to another release from the world's top MMA organization.

Larkin defeated eventual welterweight champion Robbie Lawler in his final Strikeforce showing, but The Monsoon hasn't had nearly as much success inside the Octagon. With three straight losses and a 1-4 UFC record, it's hard to envision Larkin getting another shot should he fall Sunday.

Shane Howell

Facing Irishman Paddy Holohan, who is likely to be a crowd favorite in Boston, Shane Howell has the cards stacked against him in what could be the most important bout of his MMA career.

In June, Howell had a rough debut against Ray Borg. The Oklahoma native was taken down quickly and suffered a submission loss in the opening round before he was even able to land one significant strike on his opponent.

Considering his introduction, Howell isn't likely to get an exception from the 0-2 rule that the UFC usually uses when cutting relative newcomers. Given a loss this weekend, Howell will probably need Fight of the Night honors to stick around, and that won't come easily in a prelim bout.

Charles Rosa and Sean Soriano

SINGAPORE - JANUARY 04:  Tatsuya Kawajiri (R) and Sean Soriano share a hug at the end of  their UFC Fight Night Singapore featherweight bout at Marina Bay Sands on January 4, 2014 in Singapore.  (Photo by Suhaimi Abdullah/Getty Images)
Suhaimi Abdullah/Getty Images

At 28 and 25 years old respectively, Charles Rosa and Sean Soriano both have potential, but neither has gotten out to a strong UFC start.

In October, Rosa was handed a rough matchup opposite Dennis Siver and lost as expected. However, he did go the distance with the veteran, which could be a good sign heading into this matchup with the less experienced Soriano.

Despite an 0-2 start to his UFC career, Soriano has been given another opportunity. It's rare enough for a fighter to be given another shot after losing his first two UFC bouts, so Soriano has to be heading into UFC Fight Night 59 knowing that he's in a must-win situation.

Matt Van Buren and Sean O'Connell

They have taken two very different paths to get here, but Matt Van Buren and Sean O'Connell both find themselves in need of a win.

Van Buren reached the finals of The Ultimate Fighter 19, where he lost to Corey Anderson. As the show's runner-up, Van Buren earned another shot at competing inside the Octagon, but he'll be out of chances should he lose to O'Connell on Sunday.

O'Connell made his UFC debut in April, losing via knockout against Ryan Jimmo. Despite the violent loss, O'Connell made a quick turnaround and came up short against Gian Villante two months later in a split decision.

Now with a good amount of time in between appearances and opposite a beatable opponent, O'Connell needs to deliver his first UFC win at UFC Fight Night 59 in order to remain with the promotion.

Tateki Matsuda and Joby Sanchez

Aug 23, 2014; Tulsa, OK, USA; Wilson Reis (red gloves) fights Joby Sanchez (blue gloves) in the flyweight division fight  at BOK Center. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports
USA TODAY Sports

Following losses in their UFC debuts, Tateki Matsuda and Joby Sanchez are in similar situations.

In his September debut against Chris Beal, Matsuda came up short on the scorecards. At 28 years old, Matsuda still has some time to grow as a fighter, but a loss to Sanchez would likely mean he'd have to continue his development with smaller shows.

Sanchez made his debut against a tough Wilson Reis in August and was predictably beaten. With a clear step down in competition, Sanchez wouldn't have any excuses for a loss this time around. An 0-2 record would almost certainly punch his ticket back to regional competition.

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