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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 tomorrow night’s UFC on FX: Guillard vs. Miller lineup, as they do every event, and more than one Mixed Martial Artist is likely making his final appearance inside the Octagon for the foreseeable future if not forever.

Below you will find every fighter scheduled to take to the cage at UFC on FX with realistic percentages relating to the chances of being released based on an in-ring stumble on Friday night (as well as a brief explanation behind the reasoning). Any fighter not listed is one that should be obviously safe so there’s no need to waste anyone’s time with analysis of why:

Nick Denis (1%) – Denis is making his UFC debut and, as a bantamweight, he’ll be given more leeway than might be the case in other, deeper divisions.
Joesph Sandoval (15%) – Sandoval is coming off a loss and being 0-2 in the UFC certainly puts him at risk of being released. However, they would also be the only defeats on his record so I can see him getting a third chance to shine before the axe falls.
Daniel Pineda (1%) – Pineda is making his debut and has won all fifteen of his fights via some form of stoppage so he should be safe no matter what.
Pat Schilling (1%) – Like a number of other fighters on this card Schilling is making his debut and with a 5-0 record including five finishes there’s no doubt in my mind the 23-year old will be back in the eight-sided cage again even if he loses.
Fabricio Camoes (1%) – Camoes is returning to the UFC after mixed results in his first two fights but has won back-to-back bouts including a decision over TUF winner Efrain Escudero.
Tom Hayden (0%) – He’s not well-known but Hayden is 8-0 and isn’t going to get cut just because he loses once.
Charlie Brenneman (1%) – After stepping up to face Rick Story on short notice and beating him I think Brenneman has a fairly long leash and should be fine regardless of outcome.
Daniel Roberts (50%) – Our first fighter of the night who is truly in a “must win” situation to cement his spot, as Roberts is on the cusp of losing three in a row and that’s almost certain doom where his continued employment is concerned.
Kamal Shalorus (10%) – Shalorus is 0-1 in the UFC with his biggest win to date being a Split Decision over Bart Palaszewski in WEC but he has an entertaining style and is likely to get one more shot to prove himself even in defeat.
Habib Nurmagomedov (1%) – At 16-0 with a high rate of finishes and the tag of being a debuting European fighter he’ll be fine, especially when considering the challenge Shalorus represents for any adversary.
Jorge Rivera (60%) – The 39-year old Rivera probably deserves a higher percentage since he’s at risk of the dreaded three-fight losing streak but he’s a longtime veteran and a classy company-man who comes to fight rather than look for a decision so I think there’s hope in terms of him keeping his spot on the roster.
Eric Schafer (80%) – I like Schafer but his win over Houston Alexander was more than three years ago and the only reason he got another shot in the UFC was because he won his middleweight debut outside of the Octagon after taking 18 months off from the sport. However, he lost in his return to the organization and 0-2 should be all she wrote on his third stint.
Christian Morecraft (60%) – Morecraft would be 1-3 in the UFC if he loses and hasn’t established himself as a fighter to watch while his job might be saved by the public’s desire to see him compete. Truly, most fans probably couldn’t pick him out of a police lineup.
Pat Barry (80%) – If holding down a UFC job was only about performance this would be 100% because defeat would lower Barry’s record to 2-5 in the UFC and, given his substandard grappling offense/defense, there should be no room for him in the world’s foremost MMA promotion. However, he’s a helluva entertaining, likeable guy so I could see him sticking around based purely on personality. Sad, but true.
Jared Papazian (7%) – His overall record isn’t great but Papazian has won his last three fights and is making his UFC debut tomorrow night, both ingredients for a return trip to the Octagon.
Mike Easton (0%) – Easton holds an overall record of 11-1 and has come out ahead in his last six scraps. He’s also relatively young at 27 and has a huge regional following in Maryland.

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

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