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Yohan Lainesse, Carlos Candelario

From Contender Series To UFC Debut | UFC Fight Night: Font vs Vera

Two Top Talents From Season 5 Of DWCS Make Their Promotional Debut This Saturday April 30

One need only take a brief glance at Saturday’s Las Vegas fight card to see the ongoing evidence of the talent funnel that runs directly from Dana White’s Contender Series to the bright lights of the UFC.

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Grant Dawson, Natan Levy, and Shanna Young first came into the awareness of many fight fans through their appearances on previous seasons of the Tuesday night institution. This Saturday, the preliminary card boasts two more fighters who made their mark on Season 5. Keep your eyes out for both men as the action gets underway at 4pm ET / 1pm PT.

Yohan Lainesse

Yohan Lainesse | Dana White’s Contender Series: Next Level
Yohan Lainesse | Dana White’s Contender Series: Next Level

Division:  Welterweight

Fighting Out Of: St Bruno, Quebec, Canada

Professional Record: 8-0

The Scoop: As the former Cage Fury welterweight champ, Canada’s Yohan Lainesse arrived to Contender Series with plenty of much-deserved hype; hype he proceeded to immediately deliver on, knocking out opponent Justin Burlinson with a swift left hook just 97 seconds into the first round of their Season 5 bout.


What’s notable about Laineesse is that he only started training four years ago. Still, his coaches Levis Labrie and former UFC standout Patrick Coté have helped him harness his immense striking power into a package that belies his relatively short time in the sport.

“I believe in myself. I’ve got the best team around me. They make me feel like one million dollars,” Lainesse said. “The legacy of Quebec and Canada mean a lot for me. I don’t want to be like Georges St-Pierre. I don’t want to be like Patrick Coté. I want to be Yohan Lainesse, ‘The White Lion’. I know I have the mindset to do something big.”

He'll take on Gabe Green in his UFC debut this Saturday on the prelims of UFC Fight Night: Font vs Vera. Green has been on the sidelines since his UFC 258 win over Phil Rowe and will be eager to restart his momentum. But the confidence of Lainesse doesn’t waver.

“We’re undefeated,” notes Lainesse, “and we’re going to stay undefeated.”

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Carlos Candelario

Carlos Candelario | Dana White’s Contender Series: Next Level
Carlos Candelario | Dana White’s Contender Series: Next Level

Division: Flyweight

Fighting Out Of: Springfield, MA

Professional Record: 8-1

The Scoop: “The Cannon” appeared not once but twice on DWCS, first in Season 1, where despite winning his fight, a contract was not in the cards that night. Four years passed before he stepped back into the cage, and after a win on the regional scene, he returned to Contender Series in the first week of 2021’s Season 5.


An uncomfortably long wait ensued at the conclusion of that fight, where after a close back-and-forth battle, it was announced that Candelario’s opponent, Victor Altamirano, was the winner via split decision. “That’s wrong,” UFC president Dana White could be seen to say in the background of the broadcast. “That’s the wrong score.”

It was the first professional loss for the 30-year-old flyweight, but even in defeat, the boss had still been impressed.

“I think that both of these kids did everything that you need to do,” White would say to Laura Sanko at the end of the show. “It was an absolute dog fight. I’m going to take you both.”

And with those fateful words, Candelario became the first DWCS contestant to secure a contract despite losing his bout.

“I was just really in awe, and I’m still pinching myself today,” Candelario said.

MORE FIGHT NIGHT: Rob Font Is Ready To Go | Fighters On The Rise | What Jake Collier Wants | Krzysztof Jotko’s Outlook

The assignments won’t get any easier for the BJJ brown belt and Golden Gloves champ. For his debut this Saturday UFC Fight Night: Font vs Vera, Candelario draws newcomer Tatsuro Taira, the Japanese phenom who has seven first round finishes on his undefeated 10-0 record. The bout opens the prelim card in Las Vegas, but it could easily be a preview of the division’s future.

UFC Fight Night: Font vs Vera, took place on Saturday, April 30, 2022live from the UFC APEX in Las Vegas. See the Final ResultsOfficial Scorecards and Who Won Bonuses — and relive the action on UFC Fight Pass!