UFC On FUEL TV 8 represents the next stop for the UFC in Japan as former PRIDE superstar Wanderlei Silva returns to the Saitama Super Arena for possibly the final time to take on Brian Stann in the night’s main event. There is not a lot riding on the line in the main event as no title shots are up for grabs nor is the loser in danger of being cut.
That can’t be said for the remainder of the card as there are fighters who are in danger of being released from the promotion with a loss. Here is a look at five fighters who need a win in the worst way as we bring you The Cut List for UFC On FUEL TV 8.
Takanori Gomi (34-8 1 NC, 3-3 UFC)
Who he’s fighting: Diego Sanchez
Why he’s on the list: Gomi has won his last two fights, so his outlook may not be as grim as many other fighters. However, Gomi is in a very crowded lightweight division and he commands a high salary when he fights. He has won just half of his appearances in the UFC, and two of his three wins have come against fighters who are no longer in the promotion. His last fight, against Mac Danzig, was a razor-thin split decision win for Gomi, though the fight did take home ‘Fight Of The Night’ honors at UFC On FUEL TV 6 in November. His losses have come to guys at the top of the division at the time, but all three losses (to Nate Diaz, Clay Guida and Kenny Florian) came by submission. Gomi is a big name, but a losing record in the UFC does not help you no matter how big your name is.
Chances of being cut: 55%. Gomi is the underdog against Sanchez as Sanchez moves back down to the lightweight division. Sanchez has been out of action for over a year so ring rust could play a big factor. Gomi fought well in the UFC’s last visit to Japan, but the Gomi of the PRIDE days is long gone. What may save him in a loss is the Japan factor, but a 3-4 mark is not good these days.
Mizuto Hirota (14-5-1, 0-0 UFC)
Who he’s fighting: Rani Yahya
Why he’s on the list: Hirota is making his UFC debut, which makes his inclusion on the cut list to be a mild surprise. He did lose his last fight in Strikeforce to Pat Healy, and he makes the drop to the featherweight division for this fight. Two straight losses under the Zuffa banner in a crowded featherweight division would not be a good start for Hirota. Hirota has just two wins since 2009, but that does include an extended period of time of being out of action after Shinya Aoki broke his arm during their fight on New Year’s Eve 2009. Hirota is going to need to display good takedown defense against Yahya as Yahya is very skilled on the ground.
Chances of being cut: 30%. It is not often that a fighter gets cut following just one fight in the UFC, but the roster size and need for cuts to be made don’t help Hirota one bit. It is a slightly even match-up with Yahya, but even in defeat, we may see Hirota back again. The big factor in this fight is the possibility of a boring ground fight, which would not help the loser’s chances.
Riki Fukuda (19-6, 2-2 UFC)
Who he’s fighting: Brad Tavares
Why he’s on the list: Fukuda is just 2-2 in the UFC, though, by all means, he should be 3-1 as he was absolutely robbed of a decision against Nick Ring at UFC 127 in February 2011. Still, that is counted as a mark in the loss column and will not help him should he lose to Tavares on Saturday. Fukuda’s two wins have come over fighters cut following their respective fights- Steve Cantwell and Tom DeBlass. Fukuda has not been involved in what most would deem as crowd-pleasing fights, so the excitement factor with him is not there. He also has a tough fight with Tavares, who is criminally underrated. Fukuda can lose but save his job with an exciting showing, but having gone the distance in 16 of his 25 fights, including all four fights inside the octagon, do not put the odds in his favor.
Chances of being cut: 80%. Tavares is on a roll having won four of his five fights in the UFC and should be the slight favorite in this fight. Fukuda has the wrestling ability to plant this fight on the mat and turn it into a grind, but a boring fight would do him no favors. A 2-3 mark in a tough middleweight division with no wins over fighters still on the roster would not help Fukuda as well.
Cristiano Marcello (13-4, 1-1 UFC)
Who he’s fighting: Kazuki Tokudome
Why he’s on the list: The former TUF competitor finds himself in much need of a win despite coming off a win in his last fight. Marcello was knocked out by Sam Sicilia in his UFC debut then was gifted a decision over Reza Madadi at UFC 153 in October. A win in a fight that many thought you did not win does not leave you in the best position to remain on the roster after another loss, and getting matched up against a debuting fighter who is an unknown entity shows that Marcello is on the chopping block. As great as his background in jiu-jitsu is, it has not translated into fighting at the highest level for Marcello. At the age of 35, a cut could signal the end of Marcello’s fighting career, so he still has a ton to fight for if he wants to continue on in the sport.
Chances of being cut: 65%. Marcello needs to use his ground skills and his experience in the octagon against Tokudome. Marcello may be the favorite going into the fight, but he will need to fight for the finish as the judging benefits he may have had in Brazil will not be present here. Marcello needs to make the most of his weekend, whether that means scoring a win or scoring some nice parting gifts from the UFC.
Hyun Gyu Lim (10-3-1, 0-0 UFC)
Who he’s fighting: Marcelo Guimaraes
Why he’s on the list: It is rare to find a fighter making his debut for an organization on a potential cut list, but this is a different situation for Lim, who in all likelihood has one strike already against him in the UFC. Lim was scheduled to make his debut at UFC On FUEL TV 6 in November, but he was pulled from the fight right before weigh-ins after being deemed medically unfit to compete by UFC doctors. He was reported to have a tough weight cut which led to the doctors pulling him from the fight, and having a fight cancelled the day before does not bode well for a fighter. Lim has a lot of talent and is one of the bright prospects coming out of Asia, and he gets a chance to fight Guimaraes, who was his original opponent for his originally planned debut.
Chances of being cut: 20%. Guimaraes is undefeated in his career while Lim has suffered setbacks, but Lim is the more naturally talented fighter. In a division with 70-plus fighters, one single loss can send any fighter packing, but Lim has a lot of upside, which will help him in this case. He’s not neccessarily safe if he loses, but he has a better chance of staying around than most.