With so many fighters chomping at the bit to get a shot at the big show nowadays, the leeway for a losing streak in the UFC is dissipating. Two losses in a row puts a fighter’s roster spot at risk. Three consecutive defeats signify almost certain termination of the fighter’s contract.

Having an unwritten policy like this in place allows us to see how these athletes will perform with their backs against the wall. Will the risk of losing their contract cause them to wither, or, flourish under the pressure?

This Saturday, Sept. 26, when the UFC returns to the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan, two fighters’ contracts will be on the line.

George Roop

The long-time veteran of mixed martial arts, Roop (15-12-1 MMA, 5-7 UFC) is coming off a year-long layoff after a devastating knockout loss to Rob Font at UFC 175. This is Roop’s second go-around with the UFC. In his first stint, he went 1-2 and moved to the WEC’s featherweight division after getting submitted by George Sotiropoulos. After the WEC was absorbed by the UFC, Roop made his UFC return and has been 4-5 since then. Roop might be a staple in the lower weight classes, but he desperately needs a win Saturday. Unfortunately for him, he will have to face fellow WEC veteran Takeya Mizugaki (20-9-2 MMA, 7-4 UFC). Mizugaki is 0-2 in his last two appearances (after a five-fight win streak), but he was facing two of the finest fighters the bantamweight division has to offer in Dominick Cruz and Aljamain Sterling. Mizugaki has always been tough to put away and seems to beat everyone outside the very top of the division. It will not be easy, but Roop needs to put something together Saturday in order to keep his roster spot.

Naoyuki Kotani

Before returning to the UFC last July, Kotani (33-12-7 MMA, 0-4 UFC) was on an incredible thirteen-fight win streak in a variety of Japanese organizations. However, his second UFC stint is identical to his first, two losses and no victories. He was essentially a punching bag in his return fight against Norman Parke, in which he was outstruck 34-8 before getting knocked out in the second round. Then, Kotani was a grappling dummy for up-and-comer Yan Cabral before getting submitted in the second round. Kotani knows this is his last chance, telling UFC.com, “I want to thank the UFC organization for giving me another chance although I lost the last two fights”. His final opportunity comes in his native Japan against the Canadian Kajan Johnson (20-12-1 MMA, 1-1 UFC). Johnson, like all Tristar Gym fighters, is very well rounded, but Kotani believes he can defeat his opponent with his grappling. Kotani has a black belt in judo and will need to show it off if he is to receive a sixth UFC fight.

About The Author

Danny Doherty
Staff Writer

Danny is a sophomore at Ithaca College looking to acquire a Bachelor's Degree in Sport Media. He has been an avid fan of mixed martial arts since watching the UFC’s 100 Greatest Fights special on Spike TV back in 2009. Shortly following UFC 100, Danny’s Saturdays, and most of his free time, became dedicated to the Ultimate Fighting Championship. In addition to writing for The MMA Corner, Danny works as a sports broadcaster and as a DJ for Ithaca College’s FM radio station, 92 WICB.