Live cards may lack the firepower of the big shows, but a) they're free, and b) they afford some great opportunities for up-and-comers and down-and-outers alike to show off their stuff at an event where the spotlight isn't completely hogged by superstars.
That also makes UFC on Versus 5
a last-chance go-round for several fighters on the roster, so it's either win or go home when the UFC rolls into Milwaukee.
Who's on the hot seat this time around, and who's most likely to get scorched before the night is over? Find out below. Dan Hardy (23-9, 1 NC; 4-3 UFC)Who he's facing: Chris LytleWhy he's in danger:
Hardy managed to avoid the UFC's informal three strikes policy based primarily on his popularity and his fighting style. If he was a bland, decision-prone wrestler with a buzz cut, he'd be long gone by now. But even the UFC would have trouble overlooking four straight losses, so Hardy needs to pull it together against Lytle. He's a smart chap, so he knows that, which is why he called out Lytle to begin with. As much as he can't afford to lose another one, he really can't afford to get out-wrestled in another snoozer. In Lytle, he's found an opponent who will probably choose not to exploit his weak takedown defense, opting instead to fling leather at one another's faces until someone falls down. That's exactly what Hardy needs right now. Of course, he also needs to be the one who doesn't fall down. If you lose a hand-picked fight like this, then what hope is there for you?Odds of getting cut:
3-1. It's a winnable fight for Hardy, and one that'll probably produce enough fireworks to please the bosses. If he gets KO'd, however, he's almost certainly done in the UFC...at least for now.Duane Ludwig (20-11; 3-2 UFC)Who he's facing: Amir SadollahWhy he's in danger:
His current run in the UFC started with two straight losses, followed by a somewhat lucky split decision win over Nick Osipczak
at UFC 122. Lucky not because he didn't deserve it, mind you, but rather because he was pretty clearly losing until Osipczak ran out of gas and tried to coast to the finish, allowing "Bang" to finish strong. With close to 90 fights on the books between MMA
and kickboxing, Ludwig is a savvy, yet battered journeyman of combat sports. He's been in some battles and has more miles on the odometer than most 33-year-old fighters. If he gets beat by Sadollah, the UFC might start to do the math on him and decide it doesn't need another tailspinning welterweight who's doing good to pull off a 1-3 run against four mid-level opponents. Then again, he'll fight whoever you've got and he doesn't cause trouble, and there's something to be said for an employee like that.Odds of getting cut:
Even. Without a memorable showing, a defeat here -- which is likely, to say the least -- probably results in Ludwig getting his walking papers.Alex Caceres (5-3; 0-1 UFC)Who he's facing: Jim HettesWhy he's in danger:
At least so far, Caceres seems more suited for reality TV than for the Octagon. He's a character, and every season of TUF needs at least one of those. Once the show's over, however, you've got to earn your keep with your fists. Caceres seemed out of his depth against Mackens Semerzier
in his first UFC fight. On paper, he seems to be headed for another defeat against the undefeated submissions artist Hettes. It was the Bruce Leeroy gimmick and the glimmer of raw talent that got Caceres this far in the UFC, but that shine wears off quickly. We know Caceres has personality. Now he needs to show he has skills, as well.Odds of getting cut:
2-5. Caceres is still young, so maybe he could use the time to get some experience on the small circuit. My guess is he's going to get that chance after Sunday.Jason Reinhardt (20-2; 0-2 UFC)Who he's facing: Edwin FigueroaWhy he's in danger:
What does it tell you when a guy's undefeated outside of the UFC and winless in it? Either he hasn't fought the toughest competition in the local shows or else he gets a killer case of nerves inside the Octagon. Neither is a particularly good sign. In two UFC fights, Reinhardt has lasted a total of 2:02. It's somewhat surprising that he didn't get cut after being mauled by Tiequan Zhang at UFC 127, but his role in the curtain-jerker on a UFC Live show should definitely tell him that this is the last stop on the express train out of the organization. Only a win will keep the 41-year-old Reinhardt on the UFC roster, and his opponent is a 3-1 betting favorite. If Reinhardt's going to turn out to be the UFC's answer to Rudy, he'd better start on Sunday.Odds of getting cut:
1-5. Get a good look at him while you can, because Reinhardt is headed for the door.