While Joe Pyfer became the first fighter to garner a contract on Season 6 of Dana White’s Contender Series, the UFC President and his remarks following the fights were the main talking point coming out of the season premiere.
It’s been discussed as the 2022 version of White’s famous “Do you want to be a f****** fighter?!” From the first season of The Ultimate Fighter, where he laid down the gauntlet before the initial cast. Tuesday night, White made it clear what he wants to see from the athletes auditioning for a spot on the UFC roster — he’s looking for action, hunger, and excitement; all things Pyfer displayed during Week 1.
We’ll see how closely the competitors for Week 2 were paying attention to what was said when they step into the cage on Tuesday night.
Here’s a look at what’s on tap.
Charlie Campbell vs Chris Duncan
Lightweights occupy the main event spot this week as Charlie Campbell squares off with Chris Duncan.
A teammate of Week 1’s Dennis Buzukja on the Serra-Longo Fight Team, Campbell enters his UFC audition with a 6-1 record built on the tough East Coast regional circuit. He’s won five straight and earned his last three wins inside the distance, including a first-round win over Guilherme dos Santos at CFFC 107 in April.
Duncan makes his return to Las Vegas after being involved in one of the best fights of last season when he lost to Viacheslav Borshchev. The Scotsman returned home and returned to the win column in February, and will look to see if he can’t follow Pyfer’s lead and be the second returning competitor to earn a contact with a main event finish.
Campbell and his coaches know what’s expected after Buzukja left Las Vegas with a win, but not a contract, while Duncan is a stout prospect who already made a positive impression with the boss last year. This should be a banger to close out the show.
DraftKings Odds: Charlie Campbell (-145) vs Chris Duncan (+125)
Vinicius Salvador vs Shannon Ross
For the second straight week, flyweights will look to impress the UFC brass as Vinicius Salvador and Shannon Ross make the trip to Las Vegas to compete inside the UFC APEX.
Representing the Ribas Family and fighting out of Varginha, Minas Gerais, Brazil, Salvador carries a 13-4 record and a bunch of questions that need to be answered into this meeting with Ross. The 26-year-old enters on a three-fight winning streak, but two of those opponents were making their debuts, and his losses have all come against more seasoned competition.
The 33-year-old Ross looks to maintain the form that has seen him win five of his last six heading into this one, though he hasn’t competed since besting DWCS alum Donavon Frelow in November 2020. He was scheduled to face Shaun Etchell twice this year, but it never came to pass, with Ross inking to fight here and Etchell making an appearance on the Road to UFC.
This is an intriguing matchup between two men with plenty of questions that need to be answered, and there is no better way to answer them than inside the UFC cage.
DraftKings Odds: Vinicius Salvador (-240) vs Shannon Ross (+200)
Francis Marshall vs Connor Matthews
Featherweights with matching 5-0 records man the middle of the card as Francis Marshall faces off with Connor Matthews.
The 23-year-old Marshall is a protege of former UFC competitor Kurt Pellegrino, and touches down in Las Vegas with four of his five wins coming by way of submission. He went unbeaten in five fights as an amateur, is an excellent athlete with great conditioning, and profiles as a long-range prospect to keep tabs on, regardless of the outcome of this one.
Matthews, who trains under Joe Lauzon, has yet to see the second round through his first five fights. In fact, the former military man has yet to go beyond the midway point of the opening frame, which either says a great deal about his skills on the canvas, the level of competition he’s been facing, or some combination of the two.
Dueling undefeated hopefuls trained by long-time lightweight division stalwarts? Sign me up!
DraftKings Odds: Francis Marshall (-120) vs Connor Matthews (+100)
Waldo Cortes Acosta vs Danilo Suzart
The heavyweight division makes its first appearance of the season this week, as Waldo Cortes Acosta squares off with Danilo Suzart.
Cortes-Acosta is a 30-year-old from the Dominican Republic with a perfect 6-0 record, having earned five wins in the last year and change after shifting his focus to MMA full time. Standing six-foot-four with an 80-inch reach and a focus on cardio, Cortes-Acosta is an interesting addition to this week’s fight card and potentially the heavyweight division.
Suzart is 9-1 overall and hits Dana White’s Contender Series on a three-fight winning streak, most recently edging out Benjamin Sehic by majority decision at Ares FC 3 in February. He’s had a taste of what it’s like to compete in the UFC, having cornered his teammate Carlos Felipe in the past, and will look to land a place on the roster in order to experience everything that comes with fighting in the UFC for himself going forward.
DraftKings Odds: Waldo Cortes-Acosta (-340) vs Danilo Suzart (+280)
Shimon Smotrisky vs Billy Goff
Welterweights open the show as Shimon Smotrisky looks to make good on his second DWCS appearance, while Billy Goff aims to show that all it takes is one attempt to make things happen.
Smotrisky appeared last season and ran head-first into Mike Malott, who choked him out in 39 seconds and has since gone on to secure a first-round stoppage win in his UFC debut. Still only 21 years old, the Israeli hopeful secured a second-round win over former TUF: Brazil finalist William Macario last time out to advance his record to 7-1.
The 24-year-old Goff enters on a five-fight winning streak that includes wins over former DWCS competitors Sean Lally and Justin Sumter. He carried his finishing instincts with him up to middleweight for his win over Sumter, and will look to showcase them here back down at welterweight against Smotrisky.
This should be an outstanding fight between two skilled prospects to kick off the second week of Season 6 on Dana White’s Contender Series.
DraftKings Odds: Shimon Smotritsky (+190) vs Billy Goff (-225)