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 140 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 nearly every fighter scheduled to take to the cage at UFC 140 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). Obviously stars like Jon Jones, Frank Mir, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Lyoto Machida, and Tito Ortiz are not at risk of getting cut so there’s no need to waste anyone’s time with analysis of why:

  • John Cholish (5%) – Cholish, a Renzo Gracie product who happens to also have a degree from Cornell and work as a high-level stockbroker, has gone 7-0 since losing his professional debut and is considered to be a solid prospect so his job is safe even with a loss
  • Mitch Clarke (5%) – Clarke is unbeaten and will get a second chance inside the Octagon unless he decides to drop a deuce in the center of the infamous eight-sided cage
  • Rich Attonito (10%) – Attonito is almost certainly assured of another fight in the UFC no matter what happens on Saturday night but based on his veteran status and age (34) it’s always possible the company may decide to move on if he looks sluggish/sloppy
  • Jake Hecht (7%) – As a newcomer on a three-fight winning streak he should be golden but there’s no real buzz around him so he’s not as safe as a guy like Cholish/Clarke, just damn close to it
  • Mark Bocek (25%) – Bocek is a fan-favorite in Canada which could keep him employed but a loss would drop his record to 9-5 including losses in three of his last four fights
  • Nik Lentz (5%) – Lentz, who should be fine regardless of how he fares, is one of the UFC’s more underrated competitors despite having a 21-3-2 record and wins over some decent talent like Drew Fickett, Rafaello Oliveira, Rob Emerson, and Andre Winner
  • Igor Pokrajac (25%) – Pokrajac has struggled to find his footing in the UFC and would be 2-4 with a stumble in Toronto which, at age 32, could be the kiss of death for his career in the organization
  • Krzysztof Soszynski (7%) – Soszynski is beloved by fans, has a great attitude, and brings an entertaining style with him into the Octagon (plus wins more than he loses) so he has nothing to worry about employment-wise this weekend
  • Yves Jabouin (25%) – A draw in Canada like Bocek, would be 32 with a 2-4 record under the Zuffa banner like Pokrajac
  • Walel Watson (5%) – Watson looked great in his UFC debut and can sustain a loss to a veteran like Jabouin without losing his spot on the roster based on potential
  • John Makdessi (1%) – Makdessi deserves to be in the company of the card’s headliners where this list is concerned, as he’ll be 9-0 entering the evening and has looked sharp in both of his previous Octagon appearances
  • Dennis Hallman (85%) – I have no doubt the has no qualms about cutting the 36-year old Hallman after his Speedo situation from UFC 133 and back-to-back losses, as he’d have, are certainly grounds for termination
  • Jared Hamman (10%) – Hamman should be good based on how exciting his middleweight debut was after a decent run at 205 but doesn’t have a return date on lockdown given his overall record in the UFC (2-3 if he loses)
  • Constantinos Philippou (10%) – Similarly to Hamman, Philippou has looked good but would have a losing record inside the Octagon if he can’t pick up the victory this weekend
  • Mark Hominick (1%) – Hominick is one of MMA’s top featherweights, represents Canada well, is a class act, and has an exciting fight style…nuff said?
  • Chan Sung Jung (1%) – Jung is like Hominick if you replace Canada with South Korea even though he lacks his UFC 140 foe’s overall success in the sport
  • Brian Ebersole (1%) – The well-manscaped Ebersole is an entertainer with a lot of skills to back up his humorous antics who also happens to have won his last nine fights so there’s no way the UFC is letting him go anytime soon
  • Claude Patrick (1%) – He’s 14-1 with thirteen straight victories including three in the UFC and the only flaw involving a decision to Drew McFedries, i.e. the UFC would be off their rocker to release him for a single loss
  • Antonio Rogerio Noguiera (35%) – Though Nogueira may have some big wins on his record it doesn’t discount from the fact he’d be 0-3 in his last three fights and Ortiz is far from the world-beater he once was so I definitely think “Little Nog” has a decent chance of getting axed if he doesn’t pick up a dubya

Overall, almost all of the fighters on this card are safe with Hallman at the most risk of receiving a pink-slip. Without the pressure of a “must win” situation I see a lot of the fighters letting lose on Saturday night and it should result in a very entertaining event from top to bottom.

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

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