In another of its events centered around the support for the U.S. Military, the UFC brings the men and women in uniform at Fort Hood Military Base its most recent effort with UFC Fight for the Troops 2. The card features several rising stars including “The Young Assassin” Melvin Guillard (25-8-2) who is on a quest to continue his rebirth as a UFC standout, top prospect Evan Dunham (10-1) who looks to improve on his 4-1 UFC record, The Ultimate Fighter Season 10 contestant Matt Mitrione (3-0) who continues to build his name as a heavyweight, and another TUF alum in “The Deadliest Catch” Cody McKenzie (12-0) who looks to remain undefeated at the expense of yet another UFC lightweight. All of these men are talents that the UFC seems to have a vested interest in cultivating; win, lose, or draw chances are, they aren’t going anywhere. However, for several fighters on this card, Fight for the Troops could be more aptly named Fight for Your Job. The UFC has been leaving pink slips in the lockers of the most unexpected fighters for several months now to make room for the influx of new talent from the WEC which has many fighters wondering if they’re next.
“The Thrashing Machine” Tim Hague (10-4): Tim has been blessed with a second chance in the UFC against Matt Mitrione. He rode a four fight winning streak into the UFC heavyweight division and won his first fight with the promotion before flunking out following three straight losses. Against Mitrione, he faces a burgeoning new talent that has built a surprisingly strong fan base in a short time. It has all the trappings of a fight booked specifically to make one fighter look good at another’s expense. A loss would leave Tim 1-5 in the UFC and more than likely, the owner of a fresh set of walking papers.
George Roop (11-5-1): Roop, one may recall, was a contestant on The Ultimate Fighter Season 8 who simply failed to make the cut as a UFC lightweight. He dropped to featherweight and, after one bout outside of Zuffa, signed with the WEC and promptly returned to his less than stellar ways with a loss and a draw before finally scoring a rather unexpected but nonetheless spectacular win over “The Korean Zombie” Chan Sung Jung (10-3). Roop failed in the UFC once and can ill afford anything but a show stopping win at Fight for the Troops if he hopes to continue drawing UFC pay.
“Hype or Die” Pat Barry (4-3): The Duke Roufus protege has an undeniable crowd appeal and a sizable underground fan base. Unfortunately he is also at the critical .500 mark with the UFC and just one loss away from an even record overall. No doubt due to his magnetic image and his exciting, no bullshit stand-up style, Barry has been given a fight that there is no reason he should lose. That is exactly why he must win to keep his spot on the UFC heavyweight roster. When a fighter in his position loses a fight designed to make him look good, the end result is almost always instant termination.
“The Mexicutioner” Joey Beltran (10-3): Beltran started his UFC career by winning a fight he was brought in to lose when he beat the overrated out of Rolles Gracie Jr. (3-1) with a second round TKO. He then knocked Tim Hague out of the UFC. He was the can that refused to be smashed and some thought the UFC had found a sleeper – perhaps not a diamond but maybe a ruby in the rough. Then he met Matt Mitrione and was soundly thrashed for three rounds. Now Beltran finds himself again in a match he’s supposed to lose, this time using his remaining thunder from the Gracie and Hague fights to recharge the career of Pat Barry. Should he fail to achieve victory, he likely will have outlived his usefulness to the UFC.
“The Joker” Mike Guymon (12-4-1): “The Joker” is in a rough place. He is 1-2 in an organization that has an established history of cutting fighters who even look like they can’t break even after four fights. There is every chance that, barring a Fight of the Night performance, that Guymon will be telling his jokes in Strikeforce regardless of the outcome of his fight. Guymon needs not just to win, but to annihilate Damarques Johnson (14-8) if he wants to continue his career in the house that Dana White built.
Damarques Johnson: The TUF Season 9 alum has a less than remarkable 2-2 UFC record against opponents with a combined UFC record of 10-8 with the promotion. This is not a good sign for the young welterweight and a drop to 2-3 would likely be the final nail in his coffin. Johnson isn’t in water as deep as some of the other fighters on this card, but he is likely out of any mulligans granted to him by making it to the finals of The Ultimate Fighter reality show.
Mike Brown (20-7): Brown came into the WEC featherweight picture like a tornado comes into a trailer park, wrecking everything in site and leaving little question as to what happened. After going 4-0 with two victories over previously unstoppable champion “The California Kid” Urijah Faber (24-4) Mike Brown fell on hard times. While he has managed to avoid losing two in a row, Brown has gone 2-3 in his last five with two brutal KO loses. With a multitude of lightweights making the cut to 145lbs., there is no room in the UFC featherweight division for a fallen champion who hasn’t managed to string together a pair of wins in nearly two years.