Achieving success in any professional sport can be a difficult task. Mixed martial arts is certainly no exception. Having the courage and desire to want to be locked in a cage and engage in hand-to-hand combat with another human being is a difficult concept for many people to grasp. However, watching those who have the desire to do so can be fascinating. This is especially true when a fighter is able to achieve a level of excellence that propels them stardom. While some fighters are able to shine when the lights are brightest, others find themselves folding under the pressure.
The Ultimate Fighting Championship or UFC as it’s often referred to by MMA fans is widely considered the premier organization in the world of mixed martial arts. For many fighters, simply making it to the UFC is rightfully considered a major accomplishment. While becoming a part of the UFC roster is a difficult task, maintaining your spot among MMA’s elite can even more daunting. Generally speaking, losing three consecutive fights will often mark the end of a fighters UFC run. However, there have been exceptions to this rule.Moreover, there have also been instances of fighters being let go for reasons other than their in-cage performances. With that in mind, let us take a look at some big name fighters who may be on the hot seat heading into 2017. This list features many former title holders, as well as title challengers, there are more than a few name that may surprise you.
15. Jon Jones
It’s quite possible that Jon Jones is the greatest mixed martial artist on the planet right now. He’s beaten some of the biggest names in the history of the UFC, with relative ease. In fact, he is the only man to have defeated current UFC light-heavyweight champion, Daniel Cormier. While his credentials as a fighter are beyond question, it’s his actions outside of the cage that should be cause for concern. On April 27, 2015, Jones was involved in a hit and run incident that resulted in a lengthy suspension from the UFC. This came only a few months after Jones admitted to cocaine use, an action which resulted in a $25,000 fine. He also received another fine for his infamous pre-fight scrap with rival Daniel Cormier at a press conference. Jones is currently serving another suspension for taking a banned substance. As good as Jones is, you have to wonder how many more mishaps the UFC will allow before cutting ties.
14. Johny Hendricks
When Georges St-Pierre announced he was taking time off from fighting. Hendricks looked poised to become the next big thing in the UFC welterweight division. He would go on to capture the vacant welterweight title in a fight against Robbie Lawler. However, Hendricks was unable to defend his championship when he fought Lawler for the 2nd time. The former Divison I wrestler has had difficulty with weight cuts and has failed to make weight for his fights on multiple occasions. He’s currently riding a 3 fight losing streak and doesn’t look like the same fighter that took Georges St-Pierre to the limit back in 2013. Another loss in the octagon could mark the end of the former champions run in the UFC.
13. B.J. Penn
The Hawaiian native has already secured his spot among the all-time greats in the sport. The Prodigy has held UFC titles in two different weight classes and holds victories over legends like Matt Hughes and Renzo Gracie. Unfortunately, his recent return from retirement resulted in a one-sided beating at the hands of rising star Yair Rodriguez. This loss was the 4th in a row for the UFC Hall of Famer. In fact, Penn hasn’t won a fight in the octagon since November of 2010. Penn remains a fan favorite who is known for his never say die attitude. However, his last three fights were all one-sided losses, two of which resulted in TKO’s. Penn is a warrior and he may wish to continue his career in the sport that made him a legend. However, it could come to a point where the UFC will need to step in and protect Penn from himself.
12. Anthony Pettis
The former WEC and UFC lightweight champion, once one of the most feared competitors in his division, has fallen on hard times recently. After three consecutive losses at lightweight, Pettis decided to try his luck at featherweight. The fighter known as Showtime got the win in his debut at featherweight. However, he failed to make weight for his next matchup against Max Halloway. By missing weight, Pettis cost himself a chance at the interim title. Despite being overweight and losing a shot at the title, Pettis still went on to fight Halloway and lost the bout via unanimous decision. Pettis has now lost 4 of his last 5 fights. He is still just 30 years of age and has time to get things turned around. However, a couple more losses could have UFC brass discussing his future with the company.
11. Andrei Arlovski
The former UFC heavyweight champion now has an impressive 40 professional MMA fights under his belt. The massive Russian has wins over heavyweight greats such as Frank Mir, Tim Sylvia, and Fabricio Werdum. He will no doubt one day be inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame. However, it appears father time may have caught up with the Arlovski, who has been finished in his last 4 fights. His most recent fight resulting in a devastating first round TKO loss to Francis Ngannou. However, we’ve seen Arlovski regain his form after extended losing streaks in the past. At 38 years of age does the pit bull still have another run in him or have we already seen the best he has to offer? Time will tell.