So here we are, several months later than usual and following a five-week hiatus before the final three events, set to wrap up another season of Dana White’s Contender Series.
DWCS Season 4, Week 10 Contract Winners
DWCS Season 4, Week 10 Contract Winners
And what a season it has been.
A record-breaking 33 athletes have already earned UFC contracts, with several of them having either already made their first appearance in the Octagon or poised to do so in the final six weeks of the 2020 campaign, while another five pairs of hopefuls looked to join that list this evening in Las Vegas.
This season has been really entertaining, with 24 of the 43 bouts thus far ending inside the distance, and several intriguing prospects emerging over the first nine events, including Phil Hawes, Adrian Yanez, Cheyanne Buys, Carlos Ulberg, and Luana Pinheiro.
A few more emerged this week as well.
To wrap up the season, Dana White welcomed Victoria Leonardo to the UFC flyweight division, Tucker Lutz to the lightweight ranks, Gloria de Paula to the strawweight division, and JP Buys to the flyweight class, bringing the total number of contracts awarded on Season Four to 37.
In addition to the four contracts that were handed out, White also invited Nick Maximov to take part in the upcoming season of The Ultimate Fighter after the Nick Diaz Academy product outworked Oscar Cota while fighting up two divisions.
It has been another amazing season searching out and finding new talent, and the impact of the Contender Series will be seen this weekend, as Season One graduate Alex Perez battles Deiveson Figueiredo for the flyweight title in the main event of UFC 255 on Saturday night inside the UFC Apex.
Here’s a look at what transpired on the final event of the season.
CHELSEA HACKETT VS. VICTORIA LEONARDO
Business kicked off in the flyweight division as Australian prospect Chelsea Hackett and Invicta FC alum Victoria Leonardo went toe-to-toe hoping to maintain the perfect graduation rate of victorious female competitors on Season 4 of the Contender Series.
Hackett opened with a series of front kicks to the head, prompting Leonardo to close the distance and initiate the clinch, which the Australian quickly reversed and separated away from. Back in the center of the cage, Hackett dictated the exchanges, sniping with punches and kicks from range, but as soon as she connected with a clean punch, Leonardo again pressed forward, this time dragging the fight to the canvas.
Midway through the round and pressed up against the fence, Leonardo worked from half guard, controlling Hackett’s position and peppering with short punches. Each time Hackett tried to create space, Leonardo moved with her and remained in control before the Aussie finally worked to her feet and out into space with just over a minute remaining in the round.
Down the stretch of the opening stanza, Hackett continued to be the more active, more accurate, more fluid striker, but it was Leonardo who landed a heavy high kick late in the round that had the 22-year-old reaching for the clinch right before the horn.
Early in the second, Hackett grazed Leonardo with a couple of right hands that were just shy of doing serious damage. Once again, the Australian having a clear edge in space prompted Leonardo to close the distance, but Hackett was able to reverse and break free into space, connecting with an elbow on the way out.
Back in the center, Hackett crashed home a clean right hand that stalled Leonardo for a moment, prompting Hackett to press forward, searching for a finish. To her credit, Leonardo clinched up and reversed the momentum, gaining time to recover while forcing Hackett to play defense.
With just under two minutes left in the round, Leonardo dragged Hackett to the canvas and quickly climbed into mount, raining down ground-and-pound from top position. Hackett tried valiantly to cover up, but Leonardo continued to unload, prompting referee Marc Goddard to step in and stop the fight.
Official Result: Victoria Leonardo def. Chelsea Hackett by TKO (punches) at 4:41 of Round 2
TUCKER LUTZ VS. SHERRARD BLACKLEDGE
Lightweights who earned victories, but not contracts earlier in the season, Tucker Lutz and Sherrard Blackledge returned to the UFC Apex in hopes of building on their solid first impressions and securing a contract.
These two lightweights didn’t waste any time slinging the leather, with Lutz pressing forward and backing Blackledge into the fence. Along the cage, Blackledge attacked with some “Hapa” elbows before reversing off the cage and dumping Lutz to the canvas, connecting with two knees to the midsection. Lutz got to his feet and reversed to the control position, but Blackledge did a good job of again gaining control and attacking the body before a knee strike landed low, bringing the action to a momentary halt.
On the restart, Blackledge landed a kick to the midsection, but the follow-up went low again, causing another pause in the action, while a replay of the first knee showed that it didn’t land low.
Lutz came out quickly on the restart, attacking with low kicks, while Blackledge looked a little more hesitant before finally uncorking a few more kicks of his own. With just under a minute remaining, Lutz blitzed forward and crashed home a right hand, following it up by pressing forward into a quality takedown, finishing the round by climbing into mount before landing as a backpack at the horn.
Blackledge started the second round attacking with low kicks, prompting Lutz to respond in kind before moving up to the body and landing a pair of quick left hooks. With more kicks coming his way, Blackledge closed the distance, but Lutz showed good balance, turning an attempted throw into a back-take opportunity, settling in with both hooks secured once the duo hit the canvas.
Fighting in front of his corner, Blackledge followed instructions perfectly to escape the position, getting back to his feet, only to leave his neck exposed, allowing Lutz to attack a guillotine. After breaking free and getting back to his feet again, Blackledge pressed forward once more, dumping Lutz to the canvas and climbing over his legs into a seated mount position.
With a minute remaining in the middle frame, Lutz worked back to his feet, settling into a control position out front along the fence before landing a couple clean shots just before the horn.
Blackledge started the round attacking with kicks again, but it was a stepping knee from Lutz that landed clean, prompting Blackledge to search out the clinch again. Lutz reversed position and Blackledge went back to those “Hapa” elbows as referee Jason Herzog called for action. Lutz responded by pulling Blackledge’s legs out from under him, repeating the takedown a minute later, landing in side control.
Lutz started angling for an arm-triangle choke, but the duo was pressed into the cage, limiting the space he had to secure the hold. Blackledge tried to push off the fence to create a scramble, but Lutz wasn’t having it, keeping his shoulders on the canvas. Lutz again looked for the arm-triangle, but it wasn’t there, and the fight ended with the duo in a stalemate on the canvas.
Official Result: Tucker Lutz def. Sherrard Blackledge by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
PAULINE MACIAS VS. GLORIA DE PAULA
After being a late scratch from the Episode 8 lineup, strawweights Pauline Macias and Gloria de Paula finally stepped into the cage opposite one another on Tuesday night and it proved to be worth the wait.
Long right hands from de Paula got the action started as she utilized her range right out of the chute while taking control of the center of the cage. Macias closed the distance and de Paula jumped on a guillotine before getting thrown to the floor. Back on the feet, Macias tried to enter for a single leg, but de Paula sprawled well, hanging onto a front headlock before lacing up an anaconda choke. Macias did a good job of staying in place and forcing de Paula to make choices, but the Brazilian was content to attack with knees to the arms.
With just over a minute remaining in the round, de Paula sat down into the choke, but Macias again maintained her base, prompting de Paula to adjust her grip and tighten her squeeze, staying locked onto the hold through to the horn.
The second started with de Paula throwing long kicks and punches, none of which found a home. A long left did, and Macias immediately looked to clinch, but de Paula defended well and connected again on the break. Back in space, the Brazilian began varying her attacks more, mixing in strikes to the body, leading to Macias driving through a takedown and landing in de Paula’s guard.
Macias stood up after de Paula threatened from her guard and the onslaught in space continued with clean punches and a long kick to the body in space. Macias pulled guard in the center of the cage to no avail, with de Paula landing on top, landing ground-and-pound and looking for opportunities to advance and attack.
The Brazilian postured up and drove home two clean right hands, returning to Macias’ guard and hitting her with another right, adding a smattering of elbows down the stretch.
Macias came out with a lunging right to start the third, but it was only one, which allowed de Paula to close the distance, burying a knee to the midsection as they clinched along the fence. The Brazilian framed off an elbow up top, landing another on the break.
Each time Macias landed anything of value, de Paula responded with one or two of her own, prompting the judoka to look for a takedown or clinch. Even when they did lock up along the fence, it was the Brazilian controlling the action, attacking with knees to the body, bringing them upstairs at the end of the sequence.
De Paula could sense Macias fading and looked for the finish, pressing into the clinch and attacking with knees to the body and a tomahawk elbow, putting it on the American, elevating her off the ground with the force of her knees and smiling through to the final horn, clearly pleased with her performance.
This was one-way traffic from the outset, and while she didn’t secure a finish, de Paula showed she’s more than capable of competing on the big stage alongside her girlfriend, UFC standout Mayra Bueno Silva.
Official Result: Gloria de Paula def. Pauline Macias by unanimous decision (30-26, 30-26, 30-27)
NICK MAXIMOV VS. OSCAR COTA
Heavyweights at different ends of the age and experience spectrum clashed in this one as 22-year-old Nick Maximov put his perfect 5-0 record on the line against 36-year-old veteran Oscar Cota.
This one hit the canvas instantly, as Maximov caught a Cota low kick and dumped him to the canvas, landing in half guard. The youngster settled into top position, peppering Cota with short, effective punches as the veteran tried to get back to his feet.
Cota managed to stand and Maximov dove in on an ankle pick, but Cota wisely sprawled and forced Maximov to carry his weight on top of him while mixing in the occasional punch. Cota looked to turn Maximov over and flatten him out, but the Diaz Academy product stuffed it and climbed back to his feet, only to have Cota drag him back to the canvas, maintaining the headlock position, controlling Maximov’s posture and position through to the horn.
Each man offered a high kick to start with neither landing, and when Maximov dropped for a takedown, Cota grabbed a guillotine, which was a mistake. The submission wasn’t there and Maximov settled into top position, attacking with ground-and-pound from half guard as he looked to soften up the Mexican veteran. Maximov briefly advanced to mount, prompting Cota to buck and recover half guard, creating openings for Maximov to pepper with strikes from the top.
Cota looked to score with slicing elbows from the bottom, but Maximov wore them well, continuing to work from top position, chipping away at Cota’s energy reserves and piling up the control time, finishing the round with a flurry of strikes.
Maximov immediately dove in for a takedown and this time, he was able to drive through and put Cota on his back in the center of the cage. Cota stayed busy with elbows to the side of the head off his back, but Maximov wasn’t bothered and continued working. When Cota tried to create space, Maximov would shut him down, maintaining half guard while continuing to chip away with short shots from the top.
Midway through the frame, Maximov landed a good elbow over the top, denying Cota’s attempts to create a scramble while connecting with short punches as he struggled with the much heavier man on bottom. It was more of the same down the stretch before the horn brought this “David vs. Goliath” heavyweight pairing to a close.
Official Result: Nick Maximov def. Oscar Cota by unanimous decision (30-26, 30-26, 29-28)
JP BUYS VS. JACOB SILVA
JP Buys and Jacob Silva each came up short in their first forays on the Contender Series, and they squared off on Tuesday night hoping to remedy the situation in their joint second appearances.
After a brief feeling out period, Buys ducked under for a takedown after throwing a low kick, immediately putting Silva on the deck, working through to half guard. Buys slowly looked to work for openings, briefly looking to set up an arm-triangle choke before passing to side control. Silva did a good job to nearly scramble free, but Buys used his weight to maintain position, climbing to back mount with more than two minutes to work.
Buys quickly locked up the arm-triangle choke, adjusting his grip and moving around to his back, but Silva valiantly defended and broke free. Still riding the leg from back mount, Buys landed hammerfits and punches before attacking a guillotine before the horn.
With seconds remaining in the round, referee Marc Goddard checked on the athletes and waved off the fight, believing Silva was unconscious. As soon as he stepped in, Silva reacted with complete shock, clearly still fully conscious and simply trying to minimize his movements.
This isn’t how Buys wanted things to end, but he dominated the action throughout the first and delivered a tremendous bounce-back performance after coming up short in his first Contender Series appearance.
Official Result: JP Buys def. Jacob Silva by technical submission (guillotine choke) at 4:54 of Round 1