For a fighter, making it to the UFC is the culmination of years of hard work and dedication; countless hours of blood, sweat and tears being poured on to training mats. But once they make it to the UFC the hard work doesn’t stop; in fact things get more difficult for the fighters.

The UFC by nature breeds a competitive atmosphere, but that atmosphere is amplified by the fact that fighters are given only a handful of opportunities to prove they belong. Lose your UFC debut and you are lucky to get a second chance. Lose back to back bouts and your back is against the wall. And fighters who lose three straight are almost always guaranteed their release from the organization.

When the UFC heads to the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas for UFC 189: Mendes vs. McGregor, five fighters will be fighting for their jobs.

Loser of Yosdenis Cedeno vs. Cody Pfister

In the opening preliminary bout of the evening, lightweight youngsters Cedeno and Pfister will battle it out to say in the UFC. Cedeno is just 1-2 inside the Octagon while Pfister was choked out in his UFC debut. The lightweight division is extremely deep and up and coming fighters simply cannot afford to lose back-to-back bouts.

John Howard

A long time veteran of the sport, Howard is no stranger to having his back against the wall in the UFC. After dropping three in a row between August of 2010 and June of 2011, Howard was released from the UFC. He now finds himself in a similar situation heading into UFC 189. Howard has lost three in a row; a fourth would all but guarantee his release.

Mike Swick

A member of the inaugural season of The Ultimate Fighter, Swick has long been a name in the UFC. But constant injury and years of inactivity have all but halted his career. Heading into UFC 189, Swick is just 1-3 in his last four and he hasn’t competed in well over two years. It’s now or never for the TUF season one cast member.

Brad Pickett

A pioneer for the lighter weight classes, Pickett has also been an exciting competitor. In fact, he is one of only two men to ever defeat UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson. But years of battling it out with the best in the world has taken its toll on Pickett. Heading into UFC 189, Pickett has lost back-to-back fights and is just 2-4 in his last six. At 36, his best days are behind him and it’s only a matter of time before he is released to make way for more young talent.

About The Author

RJ Gardner
Content Coordinator

RJ Gardner is a rabid sports fan and a long time MMA enthusiast. After watching UFC 1 at ripe old age of 11 RJ was hooked and his passion for the sport has continued to blossom over the years. RJ has been covering MMA since 2007 and has had work featured on Bleacher Report, SI.com, CBSSports.com and UFC.com. RJ is also a Petroleum Transportation Operations Manager during the day.