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Opening Round: Odds Are… (UFC 143 Edition)

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 Saturday night’s UFC 143: Condit vs. Diaz lineup, as they do every event, and without question 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 143 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:

Daniel Stittgen (1%) – A 7-1 newcomer who is taking a fight on short notice has nothing to worry about as far as getting cut after his first fight.
Stephen Thompson (1%) – Similarly, Thompson is making his debut and with a 5-0 record, a ridiculous amount of success in kickboxing, and the support of some of the sport’s top names there’s no doubt in my mind Thompson will be back even if he loses.
Rafael Natal (5%) – He’s 1-1-1 under the UFC banner but is coming off a win so Natal should be safe unless he completely stinks the joint up on Saturday night.
Michael Kuiper (1%) – Another undefeated guy making his UFC debut, Kuiper is a lock for a return trip to the Octagon regardless of how he fares against Natal.
Chris Cope (85%) – Cope is essentially in a “loser leaves” town fight and, as a fairly vanilla competitor, a second consecutive defeat should spell the end of his run in the UFC.
Matt Brown (90%) – Brown has the kind of attitude the UFC loves but his performance inside the cage hasn’t cut it, losing four of his last five fights as is.
Alex Caceres (55%) – Caceres is only 1-2 since his stint on TUF but scored a win in his last fight so I think his personality will keep him around for one more go even if he comes up short this weekend.
Edwin Figueroa (5%) – Figueroa has looked good in both of his UFC fights and is 8-1 overall so he has a little wiggle room where performance is concerned.
Matt Riddle (25%) – Normally I’d add another 50% onto this based simply on the fact Riddle is on a two-fight losing streak but he’s an entertaining fighter and will be facing a new opponent on short notice so I think he’ll get a free pass from the chopping block unless he looks absolutely terrible.
Henry Martinez (1%) – The UFC doesn’t make it a practice to release newly signed guys, let alone ones taking fights on a week’s notice.
Dustin Poirier (0%) – Poirier is considered to be the future of featherweight as a heavy-handed, athletic grappler so there’s absolutely no way the UFC will get rid of him even in defeat.
Max Holloway (1%) – One of the many fighters making his debut on the card, Holloway took the bout with only a few weeks to get ready and can afford to come up short in his debut.
Ed Herman (0%) – Herman’s comeback from a series of knee injuries makes for a great story and he has the kind of style fans love, plus he won his last two fights, so “Short Fuse” is in no way on a “short leash”.
Clifford Starks (1%) – At 8-0 Starks would have to essentially punch the referee or a ring girl to get cut as opposed to simply losing.
Scott Jorgensen (0%) – Jorgensen is a “Top 10” bantamweight who has won back-to-back bouts so it would be foolish to think he’s at risk of losing his job, let alone when facing a guy on a 27-fight winning streak like Barao.
Renan Barao (0%) – He’s 27-1, dynamic in the ring, and a highly ranked (not to mention young) competitor. In other words…DUH!
Mike Pierce (5%) – Pierce’s overall record isn’t great but he’s done well for himself in the UFC and should be good to go even if Josh Koscheck takes him out with a KO.
Roy Nelson (5%) – This would be higher if Nelson hadn’t already shown he’s making a sincere effort to slim down as had been requested by his bosses. However, since he showed up in “good” shape for his last fight he should be under less pressure to win when it comes to maintaining his sport on the roster.

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

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