Last week saw the debut of the newest UFC show, Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series, a new series that pits the best unsigned fighters, both upcoming stars and those looking for a second chance, against each other in five bouts held at the UFC Gym in Las Vegas. At the end of the show, White then picks a fighter that will be given a multi-fight UFC contract.
In an eventful debut episode, two fighters were actually chosen by the UFC President. The featured bout saw Louisiana’s Kurt Holobaugh, a UFC veteran and former Titan FC Champion, knock out former Ultimate Fighter veteran Matt Bessette in the first round to re-earn a spot in the UFC. Also chosen was Hawaii’s Boston Salmon, who stayed undefeated with a masterful display of boxing, dominating the undefeated Ricky Turcios over three rounds. Meanwhile, despite stoppage victories, heavyweight Zu Anyawu and middleweight Charles Byrd were snubbed. Byrd is expected to return to the series at some point.
This week will bring a new slate of ten fighters to the UFC Gym, knowing that they not only have to win, but win impressively to get a UFC contract. Like last week, all ten competitors will be male. We also know now the winner of every fight will take home ten thousand dollars as a winner’s purse.
- Sidney Outlaw (8-3) vs Michael Cora (4-1) – 3 Rounds, Welterweights
Outlaw will come into the show on a three fight winning streak, having won the Lightweight and Welterweight Titles of New Jersey’s Ring of Combat in his last two bouts. He has past fought for both Bellator and World Series of Fighting, but most of his fights have taken based for the prestigious New Jersey based promotion. A member of the Renzo Gracie team, it comes as no surprise that most of Outlaw’s wins come by submission. He is especially fond of the rear naked choke.
Opposing him will be Cora, the least experienced fighter on the card in terms of number of fights. After losing his pro debut, Cora has won every other of his pro fights, all by KO or TKO. He made his debut in Titan FC in May, scoring a highlight reel knockout in the first round. A southpaw, Cora seems to be mostly a standup fighter, so we will have something of striker vs grappler much between these two.
- Lazar Stojadinovic (12-5) vs Thanh Le (6-1) – 3 Rounds, Featherweights
Stojadinovic started out his career with a subpar record of 4-5, but has since rattled off eight straight wins, fighting around the country. Now training at American Top Team, Stojadinovic is coming off of the biggest win of his career, dominating longtime Bellator standout Mike Richman in the main event of LFA 2.
His opponent will be Le, who like Cora lost his pro debut but has come back with six straight wins. This does not include a brief stint on Season 22 of the Ultimate Fighter, where he knocked out Andreas Quintana to get into the house, but was choked out in the first round by Swede Martin Svensson. Like his opponent, Le is coming off the biggest win of his career, knocking out the more experienced Alex Black at LFA 3. Le has fought most of his fights at lightweight, so he may have size and power advantage over the more experienced fighter at featherweight.
- Cee Jay Hamilton (11-4) vs Casey Kenney (6-0-1) – 3 Rounds, Flyweights
A dynamic striker, Hamilton comes into this opportunity riding a six-fight winning streak. He is coming off a main event win at LFA 8, defeating Jesse Bazzi by decision. Hamilton has fought at both fly and bantamweight in his career, with Legacy serving as his most valuable platform. He certainly comes into this show with the best nickname-The Autobot.
His opponent Kenney won his first six fights of his career. Fighting mostly out of the Taichi Palace promotion in California, most of his wins come by submission, including winning their flyweight title in February. He is coming off a draw against Brazilian Bruno Silva at LFA 11. This another matchup that could end up being striker vs grappler.
- Sean O’Malley (7-0) vs Alfred Khashakyan (8-3) – 3 Rounds, Bantamweights
While it may not be the featured match on this card, make no mistake about it-this is THE fight to watch. The undefeated O’Malley is only twenty-two years old, having made his pro debut less than two years ago. Originally from Montana, “Sugar Sean” now trains at the MMA Lab in Arizona and is coming off a knockout out of the year candidate at LFA 11, when he flattened David Nuzzo in the first round with a spinning heel kick. This is just the kind of guy the UFC is looking for right now.
His opponent, however, should be equally as interesting to fight fans. Khashakyan comes from the infamous Glendale Fight Club and was featured on the Season 2 premier of “Dana White: Looking For A Fight.” Described by White as “Ronda Rousey’s guy,” Khashakyan fell that night to Ricardo Ramos, who ended up making a successful UFC debut in February. Khashakyan ended up rebounding with a win over UFC veteran Chris Beal in May for the California Xtreme Fighting Bantamweight title. With both of these men looking to trade shots standing, this should be a very interesting matchup
- Daniel Spohn (15-5) vs Angel DeAnda (18-5) – 3 Rounds, Light Heavyweights
Several years ago, Spohn flattened Tyler King with a right hook in twenty-five seconds in one of the most devastating knockouts in Ultimate Fighter history to get into the TUF 19 house. Spohn was eliminated in the semifinals and in his only official UFC fight, he lost to Patrick Walsh. Since then Spohn has been 7-1, with a three-fight win streak going in, winning several regional titles, at both light heavyweight and heavyweight.
He may have a significant advantage in size against DeAnda, a California brawler who has had most of his fights at middleweight. Fighting most of his fights in the Taichi Palace and Global Fighting promotions, DeAnda is coming in on short notice and will be looking to make a brawl against the more technical striker. Both men are fathers and have the kind of redemption angle the UFC wants and that is probably why this fight is in the main event.
Overall, it’s another strong slate for the series, a good mix of young talent on the way up, hungry vets looking to finally get their shot, and older guys looking for that one last opportunity and as the first episode produced three finishes and a couple of very solid bouts, this week’s fighters will have a lot to live up to.
Frank’s Pics: Hamilton, Outlaw, Le, O’Malley, and Spohn.