UFC Fight Night 29: Who's on the Hot Seat?
While Brazil has become one of the UFC's biggest markets, fight cards in the South American country have still largely been comprised of competitors headed in the wrong direction.
Wednesday's UFC Fight Night 29 is one of those fight cards. While there are some intriguing matchups, many of the fights that will be contested in Barueri, Brazil, feature combatants who will be competing for their UFC jobs.
Who are all the fighters in danger of receiving their walking papers heading into UFC Fight Night 29? Here are seven men who are on the hot seat heading into this Fox Sports 1 fight card in Brazil.
Iliarde Santos has not had an easy path inside the Octagon.
The Brazilian's first two UFC bouts came against talented bantamweight Iuri Alcantara and flyweight contender Ian McCall. Now, Santos' UFC roster spot could be on the line against a tough veteran in Chris Cariaso.
Losing to Cariaso would be no reason to be ashamed. However, an 0-3 record inside the Octagon would probably force the UFC to cut ties with Santos unless the Brazilian really impresses in defeat on Wednesday.
Chris Cariaso was riding a three-fight winning streak at this time last year, but he now finds himself in danger of being cut from the UFC roster.
Like opponent Iliarde Santos, Cariaso has been handed tough matchups in the flyweight division. Though his losses came against former title challenger John Moraga and Jussier Formiga, Cariaso will probably need to beat Santos on Wednesday to remain a UFC fighter.
While his past two losses weren't really surprising, Cariaso can't afford to lose to a winless UFC fighter like Santos right now.
Though he's an undefeated UFC newcomer, Yan Cabral will have a short leash to work with.
Cabral's bout with David Mitchell at UFC Fight Night 29 serves as a second chance for The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil 2 participant to prove he deserves a UFC roster spot. He was injured on the reality show and will now have to prove to the UFC brass that he was worth a second look.
Had he been matched up with a more highly ranked opponent, Cabral would probably have some more room for error. However, in facing Mitchell, who has lost three of his past four fights, Cabral will need to perform right away.
After losses to TJ Waldburger and Paulo Thiago, David Mitchell appeared to find his way inside the Octagon with a win over Simeon Thoresen.
However, Mitchell was matched up with Mike Pierce in July and suffered a second-round knockout loss. With three losses in four UFC appearances, he has hardly made himself an indispensable commodity.
By beating Yan Cabral at UFC Fight Night 29, Mitchell would creep closer to a winning record. However, losing to a newcomer would force the UFC to make a tough decision regarding whether or not to keep him around.
Rousimar Palhares has hardly been losing to bad fighters, but the fact remains that he is on the verge of losing three in a row.
After losing to Alan Belcher and Hector Lombard, Palhares made a move to the welterweight division in hopes of making a turnaround. However, considering he failed a drug test following his most recent outing, he will probably need to bounce back now or never.
The UFC has forgiven those busted for using performance enhancers in the past, but Palhares will need to give the UFC brass a reason to do so. Losing a third in a row on Wednesday might make a tough call easier.
Scrappy Brazilian Fabio Maldonado has become a fan favorite for his hard-nosed boxing, but he's still looking to put together consecutive wins three years into his UFC career.
Although he's coming off a win over Roger Hollett, Maldonado could be fighting for his job at UFC Fight Night 29. While it wouldn't give him multiple losses in a row, a defeat at the hands of Joey Beltran would leave him on the wrong end of four out of his past five fights.
Another Fight of the Night performance would go a long way toward earning him another shot, but a poor outing against Beltran on Wednesday could send the 33-year-old packing.
Like Fabio Maldonado, Joey Beltran has become beloved by MMA fans despite his lack of results inside the Octagon.
Even with his entertaining style, he does not have an official win since June 2011, with his recent victory over Igor Pokrajac being overturned due to a failed drug test. While he's won multiple Fight of the Night bonuses, Beltran will need to come back strong on Wednesday or risk being cut for his recent shortcomings.
A loss to Maldonado at UFC Fight Night 29 would leave him with losses in six of seven official fights. In that event, only a Fight of the Night showing would save Beltran from being released.