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Opening Round: Odds Are…

When it comes to continued employment in the UFC there is no question winning is paramount. Zuffa structures contracts in a way allowing them to terminate a deal following any loss meaning victory is the only sure way a fighter can guarantee he still has a job the morning after having competed the previous evening.

The same set of circumstances hover over this weekend’s UFC 139 lineup as they do every event with more than one Mixed Martial Artist likely making a final appearance inside the Octagon at the show for the foreseeable future if not forever.

Below you will find every fighter scheduled to take to the cage at UFC 139 with realistic percentages relating to the chances of being released based on an in-ring stumble on Saturday night (as well as a brief explanation behind the reasoning):

  • Matt Brown (20%) – He has a mediocre overall record and is 1-3 in his last four but Brown brings it in every fight and his style alone should earn him one more shot after beating John Howard in his last outing
  • Seth Baczynski (5%) – Baczynski has won his last three fights and looked sharp against Clay Harvison in September so he’ll almost certainly be brought back for another go-round even if he goes down
  • Danny Castillo (5%) – Castillo is coming off a loss but had picked up a trio of wins beforehand including victories over Joe Stevenson and Dustin Poirier so he’ll be fine even with a loss
  • Shamar Bailey (90%) – Our first potential casualty of the card, a stumble would drop bailey to 1-4 in his last five and his “wrestle first, entertain later” style hasn’t done him any favors where job security is concerned
  • Gleison Tibau (3%) – Entering the evening with back-to-back wins and a good deal of success against respectable opponents Tibau has a “Get Out of Release” card at the moment
  • Rafael dos Anjos (5%) – Not quite the name Tibau is but Dos Anjos has beaten some solid opposition as of late including a sub-minute knockout of George Sotiropoulos so he’ll be around in 2012
  • Nick Pace (85%) – Another “at risk” fighter, Pace has lost two of his last three fights and has nothing really going for him in terms of making him a guy the UFC should keep around
  • Miguel Torres (0%) – Based on what Torres has done under the Zuffa roster, how entertaining he is outside of the Octagon, and his all-out, well-rounded style Torres would have to punch Arianny Celeste in the face to get sacked after UFC 139
  • Chris Weidman (0%) – It would be his first career loss and he’s got incredible amateur credentials so, like a game of baseball in an alternate reality, even if Weidman strikes out he’ll be safe
  • Tom Lawlor (65%) – I don’t know if the UFC brass is as entertained by Lawlor’s comical weigh-ins/entrances as the internet community is but regardless he’s lost two of his last three and would probably be at 85% if he hadn’t beaten Patrick Cote a year ago
  • Michael McDonald (0%) – He’s won his last six and is only 20 years old so there’s no way the UFC will be ready to let this 13-1 blue-chipper go after a single loss
  • Alex Soto (5%) – Soto is a late replacement so the UFC may not be invested in him but he’s 6-0-1 and has a tremendous backstory as a military veteran who now trains dolphins for the Navy – seriously – so he should live to fight another day, especially after doing the UFC a solid by stepping in on ten days’ notice
  • Ryan Bader (3%) – Even if he somehow falls Bader is still an Ultimate Fighter winner and one of his consecutive losses involves a certain guy by the name of Jon Jones
  • Jason Brilz (85%) – Another defeat would make him 1-4 in the UFC after winning his first two fights inside the Octagon and at age 36 what else does he really have to offer?
  • Stephan Bonnar (0%) – As safe as safe can be based on what he means to the UFC as one of the two men who altered the course of history on the Ultimate Fighter 1 Finale, as well as based on the work he does outside of the cage as far as commentary goes
  • Kyle Kingsbury (3%) – Dropping a fight to Bonnar after having your hand raised in four straight entering the fight does not a release make
  • Rick Story (0%) – Kampmann is one of the best welterweights out there and Story has a tremendous amount of upside
  • Martin Kampmann (0%) – Though being beaten by Story would mark a three-fight slide for Kampmann the dynamic Dane was robbed against Diego Sanchez in one and lost to Jake Shields via Split Decision in the other
  • Cung Le (0%) – Le isn’t looking to fight full time and will always boost sales in Southern California so he’s the kind of guy the UFC will keep around until he retires or loses 2-3 in a row, whichever happens first
  • Wanderlei Silva (0%) – You might think it should be 100% after his recent struggles but he won’t get cut if he loses, even by knockout…he’ll be forcibly retired
  • Urijah Faber (0%) – He’s one of the UFC’s most popular fighters so, in the words of the NFL Countdown crew…“C’mon, man!”
  • Brian Bowles (0%) – A former champion considered by most to be a “Top 5” guy whose only loss beforehand was related to an injury
  • Dan Henderson (0%) – If you need an explanation for why Henderson’s job is secure you need to reexamine if MMA is a sport you want to continue following

Overall, most of the fighters on this card are safe but a few men will definitely be competing for continued employment with Bailey, Pace, and Brilz being the prime examples.

What do you think about the subject on today’s “Opening Round”? Tell us on our Twitter account (@mmatraining)!


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