UFC 158 is on tap this weekend as the octagon returns to the Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, headlined by the long anticipated UFC Welterweight Championship bout between Georges St. Pierre and Nick Diaz. Fans have been clamoring for the fight for many years and they will finally get what they have waited for.
There are a handful of fighters that have important fights on Saturday night as some fight to maintain their spot on the UFC roster. Here is a look at five fighters who are in much need of a win on Saturday night as we bring you The Cut List for UFC 158.
Patrick Cote (18-8, 5-8 UFC)
Who he’s fighting: Bobby Voelker
Why he’s on the list: Cote is in his third stint with the world’s top fighting organization, and he has won just five of his thirteen bouts inside the octagon. He has an excellent record outside of the UFC having a perfect 13-0 record in non-UFC bouts, but aside from a four-fight win streak put together to earn a middleweight title shot against Anderson Silva, Cote has struggled to find consistency in the UFC. It took Cote a while to recover from a knee injury suffered in the fight with Silva, and he was cut following three losses, but a win streak got him back against Cung Le last July. Cote lost that bout, but he scored a disqualification win against Alessio Sakara in November to get another shot. Cote moves to a new division as he makes the drop to 170 pounds, which is a very crowded division, and he needs a solid win in his welterweight debut to keep his spot on the roster.
Chances of being cut with loss: 70%. A 5-9 record in the UFC would not be ideal, and several fighters have been released with much better records. Cote is popular in Canada, but that doesn’t mean as much today as maybe in the past. Cote has a tough match-up with Bobby Voelker on Saturday, but Voelker has missed a lot of time due to injuries. Cote definitely needs to win, or put on an impressive showing in a loss, to keep a guaranteed spot on the roster. A loss puts him in serious danger either way.
Rick Story (14-6, 7-4 UFC)
Who he’s fighting: Quinn Mulhern
Why he’s on the list: Rick Story was on the cusp of title contention with a six-fight win streak that was capped off with wins over Thiago Alves and Johny Hendricks, which is Hendricks’ only career loss. Story then took a short-notice fight against Nate Marquardt that was set to take place one month after his win over Alves. Story, though, ended up fighting Charlie Brenneman on one day’s notice instead of Marquardt, and he put on a flat performance in suffering a unanimous decision loss. Story has since dropped two of three fights to Martin Kampmann and Demian Maia, and as close as he was to a title shot just two years ago, he is that close to finding himself fighting outside of the UFC with a loss in this fight.
Chances of being cut with loss: 85%. A 1-4 record over five fights usually signals the end of someone’s run in the UFC, but Story does have the tendency to have good fights. Story needs to win this fight, and he is favored to beat Quinn Mulhern, who takes the fight as an injury replacement for Sean Pierson. Story has the tools to win this fight, but don’t count out Mulhern. Story losing to a fighter making his UFC debut on short notice would be extremely harmful with his future inside the octagon.
Issei Tamura (7-3, 1-1 UFC)
Who he’s fighting: T.J. Dillashaw
Why he’s on the list: Tamura has scored a win and a loss in his two prior appearances in the octagon, and he gets a tough fight with rising star T.J. Dillashaw at UFC 158. Tamura debuted with a knockout win over Tiequan Zhang at UFC 144 in February 2012 before being thrashed by Raphael Assuncao at UFC On FUEL TV 4 in July. Tamura had dropped to the bantamweight division, his natural division, for the Assuncao fight. He was scheduled to take on Mitch Gagnon originally, but Gagnon was pulled due to injury, and one of the top prospects at 135 pounds steps in in Dillashaw. At just 2-3 over his last five fights after starting his career 5-0, Tamura finds himself in need of a win to remain on the UFC roster.
Chances of being cut with loss: 85%. Dillashaw is a huge favorite in this fight and many expect him to score the win over Tamura. Dillashaw is taking the fight on short notice, so Tamura could have the advantage there, but Dillashaw has a different style than Gagnon had. Two straight losses would be detrimental for Tamura, but the bantamweight division is one of the thinnest divisions in the UFC, so he could remain with a loss. However, the odds are slim, and he needs to find a way to score the upset.
George Roop (12-9-1, 2-5 UFC) and Reuben Duran (8-4-1, 1-2 UFC)
Who they’re fighting: Each other
Why they’re on the list: Roop has scored wins in just two of his prior seven octagon appearances, and he enters the fight with Duran on a two-fight losing skid and losses in three of his last four since moving back to the UFC. He has been out with injury for over a year as well. Duran recently came back from an 18-month layoff due to injury, suffering a knockout loss to Hugo Viana in December. He is just 1-2 in his three UFC appearances. Both men know they need to score a win in the most desperate of ways, and both will pull out all the stops in order to do so.
Chances of being cut with loss: Roop- 100%, Duran- 80%. Roop must score the win to keep his spot on the UFC roster. He moves back down to 135 pounds, where he will have size, but 1-4 over five fights is not good, and a loss puts him there. Duran has a little safer road, but it is still leary. Duran needs a win as well to avoid being 1-3 in the UFC. Odds are the loser is gone following this bout, especially in Roop’s case, so this could turn into a war with both fighting with so much to lose.