Will the historic pace that has been set through the first three weeks on Season 4 of Dana White’s Contender Series hold
That was the question on everyone’s minds as the action returned to the UFC Apex for another night of auditions inside the Octagon.
Through the first three weeks, a record-setting 12 contracts had been awarded, with White following up his Oprah-like “Everyone Gets a Contract!” extravaganza in Week 2 by awarding four more introductory deals last week to brothers Orion and Louis Cosce, Cheyanne Buys, and Josh Parisian.
This week, five more sets of hopefuls made the walk and crossed the threshold into the UFC cage, eager to impress White and the matchmaking tandem of Sean Shelby and Mick Maynard, including a two-time veteran of the program still searching for his first victory in Las Vegas.
When the smoke cleared, another four athletes were added to the UFC roster.
DWCS Season 4 Week 4: Contract Winners and Interviews
DWCS Season 4 Week 4: Contract Winners and Interviews
Grappler Collin Huckbody collected a quick first-round submission win in the opener and a UFC contract at the end of the evening, while flyweight Jeffrey Molina impressed the boss with his tenacity and attitude while outworking Jacob Silva to join him on the UFC roster.
Brazilian Rafael Alves’ submission finish of Alejandro Flores earned him a place in the UFC lightweight division, while middleweight Jamie Pickett finally got the job done, stopping Jhonoven Pati in the opening moments of the second round to pick up the victory and a UFC contract in the main event.
Here’s a closer look at what transpired.
KYRON BOWEN VS COLLIN HUCKBODY
Middleweight fights bookended Tuesday night’s action as streaking finisher Kyron Bowen squared off with Collin Huckbody in the opening bout of the evening.
Bowen opened up with a series of leg kicks that prompted Huckbody to switch his stance and dive in for a leg. After sprawling well initially, Bowen gave up the takedown, and following a quick scramble, Huckbody advanced to mount. From there, it didn’t take long for the Brock Larson protege to lock in his signature arm triangle choke and secure the tap.
Just a dominant performance from the Minnesota native to kick off Week 4 on the Contender Series.
Official Result: Collin Huckbody def. Kyron Bowen by Submission (arm triangle choke) at 1:28 of Round 1
MIKE BREEDEN VS ANTHONY ROMERO
Molina wasn’t the only member of the Glory MMA and Fitness crew to step into the Octagon on Tuesday night, as “Money” Mike Breeden locked up with undefeated Canadian Anthony “The Genius” Romero.
It was a more methodical start to this one as Breeden and Romero took their time feeling each other out, making reads, and slowly finding their respective ranges over the first half of the opening round, primarily trading low kicks and occasional punches. Late in the frame, Romero started pressing forward more, connecting with a sharp punch combination and a low kick amongst other strikes. Breeden tried to move forward and respond, but wasn’t able to find any comparable success before the horn sounded.
Both men came out a little more aggressive to start the second, with Breeden looking to close the distance and pressure Romero, who timed a takedown in the opening minute, only to have Breeden pop right back up immediately. The Canadian continued to be the aggressor and land the more effective shots, picking at Breeden with sharp punches and exiting before taking too much return fire.
Breeden once again looked to bring the fight to the ground with just under two minutes remaining in the round, but Romero shirked him off easily before driving through a takedown of his own. Breeden was able to get to his feet without issue, but Romero went right back to the low kicks, prompting Breeden to switch his stance.
Late in the frame, Breeden stepped into a knee that caught Romero flush, following it up with a short right hand, but the Canadian handled it well and attacked the leg again, leading to Breeden hobbling back to his corner at the close of the round.
Romero began the third with a clean right hand and continued strong movement, slipping out of the way of Breeden’s heaviest shots. A minute in, he smashed Breeden’s leg once more, forcing him to buckle and back into the fence. To his credit, “Money Mike” continued pressing forward, digging deep to bring the fight to Romero, finding some success as the Canadian appeared to let off the gas.
Down the stretch, Romero popped Breeden’s head back with a couple clean punches and further brutalized his legs, salting away the victory.
Official Result: Anthony Romero def. Mike Breeden by unanimous decision (30-26, 30-27, 29-28)
JACOB SILVA VS JEFFREY MOLINA
A pair of flyweights entering on six-fight winning streaks faced off in the middle of this week’s five-fight card as 32-year-old Jacob Silva took on Kansas City-based prospect Jeffrey Molina.
Molina declined a touch of gloves out of the gate, opting instead to kick Silva’s lead leg out from under him right away. Silva caught a subsequent kick and dumped Molina to the ground, but had no interest in messing with him on the canvas. Back on the feet, Molina took control along the fence, dominating the clinch position, but failing to secure the takedown.
Silva again dumped Molina to the ground off a kick, but he popped back up right away and caught Silva with a right hand as he rushed forward to close the distance. Back in space after a brief clinch battle along the fence, Molina continued to pick at Silva from range as the veteran looked to catch his breath. Right before the horn, Molina sat Silva down with a retreating right hook, setting up an interesting second round.
Molina started the middle stanza attacking the body and the legs, scoring early and attempting to draw out fire from Silva in hopes of finding another opportunity to counter. The kicks and Molina’s constant activity, feinting and firing, made Silva hesitant, leading to a reduced output from the 32-year-old through the first half of the frame. As he started to press forward and offer more, Molina continued to rip at the lead leg and land the cleaner punches.
With a minute left in the round, Silva started letting go a little more, landing a couple quality shots before getting blasted with a head kick along the fence. He ate it like it was nothing, but it left him with a cut on his cheek and pressed into the cage, dealing with an increasingly confident Molina through to the horn.
Both men came out more aggressive and active to begin the third, trading shots in the center of the cage, with Molina quickly opening the cut on Silva’s cheek up even more, prompting the crimson to flow. The 32-year-old continued firing off punches, but it only seemed to excite Molina, who responded in kind and appeared happy to continue slinging hands.
Just ahead of the two-minute mark, Molina connected with the same no-show knee that his coach James Krause used to floor Warlley Alves, but once again, Silva ate it like a snack and continued to press forward, landing a series of jabs that left the Glory MMA and Fitness product with a bloody nose. Silva closed out the round pushing the pace and bringing the fight to Molina, but it was too little, too late as the 23-year-old earned the unanimous decision victory and extended his winning streak to seven.
Official Result: Jeffrey Molina def. Jacob Silva by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
RAFAEL ALVES VS ALEJANDRO FLORES
With a combined 46 professional fights between them, lightweights Rafael Alves and Alejandro Flores faced off in what was one of the most experienced pairings in Contender Series history on Tuesday night.
Alves was in full hunter mode right out of the gate, walking down Flores while looking to land power shots. The Mexican prospect responded by trying to offset his rhythm, circling and firing off punches and kicks to keep Alves from marching forward without hesitation. While Flores continued to pump out the jab and circle into space, Alves remained planted in front of him, connecting with glancing power hooks along the fence while showing far more patience than he’s exhibited in the past.
Just before the one-minute mark, Flores closed the distance and initiated a clinch, pressing Alves into the cage, but the Brazilian was able to shake free without incurring any damage before getting right back into stalking his Mexican foe through to the horn.
Flores began Round 2 with a little more pressure, landing a couple clean shots that got Alves’ attention. While Alves tried to walk him down, Flores did a much better job of moving forward to start the middle frame, mixing in low kicks and body kicks while Alves’ output was minimal.
As they hit the midway point of the round, Alves dove on a guillotine choke and dragged Flores down to the canvas, closing his legs around the Mexican and beginning to squeeze. Flores did his best to fight the hands and try to escape, but there was no way out, as Alves clamped down tight and drew out the tap.
This was a quality showing from the Brazilian veteran, who collects his second win in front of UFC President Dana White after securing a victory on Lookin’ for a Fight earlier in his career.
Official Result: Rafael Alves def. Alejandro Flores by submission (guillotine choke) at 2:55 of Round 2
JHONOVEN PATI VS JAMIE PICKETT
Unsuccessful in his first two appearances on the Contender Series, Jamie Pickett returned for a third time, hoping to finally emerge successful and secure a contract as he took on heavy-hitting finisher Jhonoven Pati in the middleweight main event of the evening.
The dueling southpaws came out slinging, with both Pickett and Pati connecting on an assortment of kicks and the Contender Series vet finding a home for several long jabs as Pati looked to close the distance and cut off the cage. Two minutes into the round, Pickett changed levels and put Pati on his back, transitioning to side control momentarily.
Pati got back to his feet and elevated Pickett, putting him on the canvas. Pickett held on to a guillotine choke that looked close for a moment, but Pati was able to pop his head out and land a couple quality punches before they returned to their feet with a minute left in the round. Pati continued to close the distance and instigate things, landing a handful of winging shots as Pickett looked to retreat and counter.
Pickett started the second quickly, blasting Pati with sharp combinations that instantly put him on his heels. Sensing the opportunity, Pickett cranked up the pressure and the output, unloading with a series of punches that eventually sent Pati tumbling to the canvas, bringing the fight to an end.
As the saying goes, the third time was indeed the charm for the talented, returning Pickett.
Official Result: Jamie Pickett def. Jhonoven Pati by TKO (punches) at 0:33 of Round 2