But this time, Dana White swears, this time he's really on the chopping block. Do we believe him? Well, after the tired look on his face when discussing his most recent Tito headache with Ariel Helwani yesterday, it's kind of hard not to.
Ortiz isn't the only one who can't afford to post another L on his record this Saturday night, however. For a look at the fighters who really need to win to stay employed, follow me below.
Tito Ortiz (15-8-1, 14-8-1 UFC)
Who he's fighting: Ryan Bader
Why he's in danger: Come on, you know why. As Dana White pointed out on Thursday, Ortiz doesn't have a win since 2006. As White put it: "Dude, it's 2011. He's got to win." Really, the fact that he has made it this long is a miracle, or at least a testament to the power of charisma and name recognition. Ortiz is 0-4-1 in his last five fights. The last man he beat? Ken freaking Shamrock. If Ortiz were anybody else, he'd be long gone from the UFC by now. The irony is that, while it's his Tito-ness that's helped him stick around, it's also his Tito-ness that has made him White's least favorite employee. They could find a way to work together when Ortiz was still a money-maker, but the more he loses, the less people want to see him. Now he finds himself in a must-win against Bader, who is, honestly, a pretty tough style match-up for him at this point. It's almost as if the UFC is trying to hasten his exit -- and maybe it's finally time for him to go.
Odds of getting cut: even. Let's face it, Ortiz is probably going to lose this fight. And if he does, he's certainly getting fired, or so says White. Do the math yourself. Remember to show your work.
Aaron Simpson (8-2, 4-2 UFC)
Who he's fighting: Brad Tavares
Why he's in danger: For Simpson, the problem is not so much a parade of losses as it is a couple defeats matched with a few less than inspiring wins. He has a couple of exciting fights on his record -- a split decision win over Tom Lawlor, a TKO loss to Chris Leben -- but when he has it his way, he typically prefers to put his wrestling skills to work and grind one out. We all know how the UFC feels about that approach, so the question is, if he loses to the undefeated Tavares, will that be reason enough to send him on his merry way?
Odds of getting cut: 4-1. Don't get me wrong, Simpson needs this win. Another loss and he'll drop to 1-3 in his last four. But unless he looks absolutely awful, he should be able to pull the old 'Please baby, give me one more chance' and keep his job.
Andre Winner (11-5-1, 2-3 UFC)
Who he's fighting: Anthony Njokuani
Why he's in danger: One more loss and Winner will have the dreaded three-fight losing streak on his hands. I know, the last one was in a bizarre way kind of, sort of not his fault in many people's eyes, since he got trapped against the fence by Nik Lentz for three boring rounds. Still, if you can stop a guy from doing that to you, how much of a future do you really have in the UFC? It's sad, too, because Winner once had so much promise. He was a real blue-chipper on TUF, then lost the finale and has been up and down ever since. If he's going to make his case as a legitimate UFC lightweight, he's got to do it now. The question is, can he?
Odds of getting cut: 2-1. This is a winnable fight, but by no means an easy one. At least Winner knows Njokuani won't try to stall him in a clinch, which is a start.
Anthony Njokuani (13-5-1, 0-1 UFC)
Who he's fighting: Andre Winner
Why he's in danger: Njokuani ended his WEC run with a 1-2 stint, then rolled right into the UFC with a decision loss. Fortunately for him, that loss came in a thrilling effort that earned him a Fight of the Night bonus. If you have to lose in the UFC, that's definitely the way you want to do it. Then again, a loss is still a loss, and you don't want to make a habit out of it. Njokuani has earned himself some leeway because of his exciting fighting style, but he's still after that elusive first UFC win. Even if he doesn't get it against Winner, he'll probably get one more chance to shine. Still, with a loss here the situation goes from troubling to desperate.
Odds of getting cut: 5-1. His fight with Barboza earned him some goodwill with the UFC brass, so chances are he's not going anywhere, win or lose. Probably still a good idea to win, though. Just saying.
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