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 Krakow Arena in Krakow, Poland, for UFC Fight Night: Gonzaga vs Cro Cop 2, at least eight fighters will be fighting to stay in the UFC.

UFC Newcomers

Nine fighters will be making their UFC debuts on Saturday and while their backs aren’t necessarily against the wall, they do need to make a statement to the UFC brass. Because many of the newcomers are European they need to really send a strong message if they want to have the opportunity to compete on cards outside of Europe.

Yaotzin Meza

Since joining the UFC in December of 2012, Meza has yet to really impress. With a dismal record of 1-2 and a No Contest in the UFC, it’s now or never for Meza to make a statement. Another loss would make him winless in his last three and would put him in the unemployment line.

Marcin Bandel

Bandle is an extremely talented Polish prospect with a dangerous ground game. But after losing in his UFC debut, he needs to win in front of his home crowd to stay in the organization. The UFC lightweight division is too talented to keep a fighter with an 0-2 record in the Octagon.

Anthony Hamilton

A talented wrestling with big punching power, Hamilton entered the UFC as a respected veteran. But since joining the organization Hamilton, is just 1-2 inside the Octagon and in both of his losses he was finished in the very first round. The UFC heavyweight division is thin, but not thin enough to keep a fighter with a 1-3 record.

Loser of Seth Baczynski vs. Leon Edwards

Edwards is a talented prospect from the UK, but after dropping a heartbreaking split decision in his UFC debut, he needs to pick up a win in a bad way. While his opponent is a long time UFC vet Baczynski also has his back against the wall heading into Saturday night. After winning four in a row to start his UFC career, Baczynski is just 1-4 in his last five bouts; he needs a win in a bad way.

Loser of Pawel Pawlak vs. Sheldon Westcott

Pawlak and Westcott both came up short in their UFC debuts and now if they want to stick around in the UFC, they both need to be impressive. The loser of this bout will not be asked back for a third fight.

Gabriel Gonzaga

There was a time when Gonzaga was one of the best heavyweight fighters in the world and constantly just a fight or two out of the title picture. But a lot has changed over the years. While Gonzaga is still perceived as a top heavyweight, his performances in 2014 say otherwise. After back-to-back losses, Gonzaga will be fighting for his life on Saturday. If he can’t find a way to beat Mirko Cro Cop for a second time, there’s a good chance this will be his last Octagon appearance.

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,, and RJ is also a Petroleum Transportation Operations Manager during the day.