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UFC fighters trying to avoid Nashville knockout

January 18, 2012|By Ted Gruber, For RedEye

A week before the UFC invades the United Center, the fighters head 470 miles south to the land of country music in Nashville. It's the first live "UFC on FX" event and, accordingly, features some pretty good matchups at Bridgestone Arena. A few of the fighters involved are looking to bounce back from recent losses and can't afford another setback or else they might find themselves out of the league. Here are three fighters who need to come out of Nashville with not only a singing voice but also a victory.

Pat Schilling

A Best Buy employee who does his training when he isn't working the showroom floor, Schilling makes his UFC debut in Friday's preliminaries. He just got the call a week ago to put his undefeated-outside-the-UFC record on the line in the octagon against another newcomer in Daniel Pineda. Starting with a loss is not the way to impress the UFC bigwigs.

Jorge Rivera

Rivera looked impressive during a three-fight win streak—two of them TKOs--from April 2009 to March 2010. Then he ran into Michael Bisping, who won after Rivera tried to fight on after taking an illegal knee to the head. Rivera followed that loss with a split-decision loss to Constantinos Philippou. He needs a win to keep himself relevant in the middleweight division.

Pat Barry

Barry, one of the smallest heavyweights in the UFC, desperately needs a win against Christian Morecraft on Friday night. Barry has lost two in a row, and those losses have come by way of a submission and a knockout. This is a tough matchup for Barry, who, at 5-foot-9, is at an extreme disadvantage against the 6-foot-6 Morecraft. Barry has the leg kicks to chop down Morecraft, but the height differential will make his task difficult. If Barry suffers his third consecutive loss, UFC president Dana White will more than likely hand him his walking papers.

Ted Gruber is a RedEye special contributor.

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