UFC

TUF China Finale: Who's on the Hot Seat?

Hatsu Hioki, right, of Japan, fights Clay Guida during UFC Featherweight Championship on FOX 6 at the United Center in Chicago, Saturday, Jan. 26, 2013. Guida won the bout. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
Nam Y. Huh/Associated Press
Sean SmithAnalyst IFebruary 26, 2014

At UFC Fight Night 37, Dong Hyun Kim and John Hathaway will both be looking to score a fourth consecutive victory. The welterweights are both on the fringe of title contention and could break through with an impressive win in the fight card's main attraction.

The event will also feature the finals of The Ultimate Fighter: China welterweight competition. Unfortunately, the reality show's featherweight final has been delayed due to injury.

While the 170-pounders in the main and co-main events all likely have job security, many UFC Fight Night 37 competitors could be battling to maintain their UFC roster spots on Saturday.

Here are the fighters who will be sitting on the hot seat heading into the weekend.

 

Matt Mitrione

Dec 15, 2012; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Roy Nelson (left) is punched by Matt Mitrione (right) during their heavyweight bout in the Ultimate Fighter Finale at The Joint at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino. Nelson won by KO. Mandatory Credit: Josh Holmberg-USA TODA
Josh Holmberg-USA TODAY Sports

After opening his UFC career with five straight wins, Matt Mitrione has quickly been headed in the wrong direction.

Following a recent submission loss to Brendan Schaub, Mitrione has now lost three of his past four bouts. At 35 years old, it is looking more and more unlikely that he will reach title contention in the heavyweight division.

Should Mitrione lose to Shawn Jordan on Saturday, he'll only have lost two in a row, but being defeated in four of five fights could force the UFC brass to consider cutting ties with Mitrione to make room for some new heavyweight prospects. 

  

Hatsu Hioki and Ivan Menjivar

Brought in as a potential title threat to featherweight champion Jose Aldo, Hatsu Hioki has been disappointing inside the Octagon.

After picking up decision wins over George Roop and Bart Palaszewski, Hioki has been shut down by top-10 145-pounders. Ricardo Lamas, Clay Guida and Darren Elkins all found holes in the Japanese fighter's defensive wrestling en route to decision victories.

Hioki's UFC Fight Night 37 adversary, Ivan Menjivar, has also been struggling lately. The former bantamweight is looking to turn things around by moving to 145 pounds following back-to-back losses.

With Hioki looking to avoid a fourth straight defeat and Menjivar hoping to stave off a third, this matchup could bounce a well-known fighter from the UFC roster. 

 

Nam Phan 

August 4, 2012; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Nam Phan avoids Cole Miller during the featherweight match at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

With two Fight of the Night awards already under his belt, Nam Phan isn't going to be cut too quickly, but he will need to perform well this weekend.

The scrappy 30-year-old has been on the wrong end of decision in three of his past four fights and has currently lost two in a row. Vaughan Lee will be a notable step down in competition from Dennis Siver and Takeya Mizugaki, so more will be expected from Phan in this outing.

Because he's so entertaining, Phan could be kept around despite a third straight loss, but it would likely have to mean he picked up another Fight of the Night bonus. 

 

Albert Cheng and Wang Anying

These TUF: China welterweight semifinalists are getting another shot to prove themselves inside the Octagon.

Albert Cheng and Wang Anying were both submitted in the second round of their respective bouts with 170-pound finalists Zhang Lipeng and Wang Sai. Still, the UFC decided to include both fighters on the finale for the first Chinese season of their reality show.

With a combined 3-2 record, Cheng and Anying would not likely have been considered valuable prospects had they not competed on TUF: China. Considering the loser would not have a winning record, it'd be a good bet that they would be released.

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