Dana White's Contender Series has returned for a fifth season with the top prospects in mixed martial arts battling for a chance to earn a UFC contract. You can watch DWCS live from the UFC APEX each Tuesday on ESPN+ beginning at 8pm ET/5pm PT. Not in the US? Watch on UFC Fight Pass.
Season 5, Episode 3 Results, Scorecards & More
September 14, 2021 | UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada
The first two weeks of Season 5 featured nine fights and 10 contracts being awarded, with all nine winners and split decision loser Carlos Candelario being invited to join the UFC roster over the previous pair of Tuesday nights.
With an additional bout this week, the opportunity was there for another record to be established if all the victors once again impressed Dana White and got the call, but that wasn’t the case, as for the first time this season, not everyone that earned a victory was called to the Octagon, although it was close.
Canadian wrestler Jasmine Jasudavicius, former rugby man Jack Della Maddalena, Polish heavyweight Lukasz Brzeski, middleweight mauler Albert Duraev, and light heavyweight Jailton Almeida all got the nod, with former All-American wrestler Mo Miller standing as the only victor left behind, with the UFC President suggesting the Strong Style Fight Team member has the potential to earn a couple more victories and earn a place on the roster in the near future.
With five more contracts being doled out this week, there have been 15 fighters brought on board in 15 fights through three weeks, setting a blistering pace for this season.
Here’s a closer look at how the fights played out.
Jailton Almeida vs Nasrudin Nasrudinov
Much to everyone’s surprise, Almeida was the one to shoot right out of the gate, closing the distance and changing levels, but Nasrudinov quickly reversed the position and put the Brazilian on the canvas, the two locked into a stalemate along the fence. They worked back to their feet and Almeida stayed sticking on Nasrudinov’s waist, powerfully returning him to the canvas and climbing onto his back, sinking in one hook.
Nasrudinov defended well, fighting off the choke attempt, but Almeida continued to remain tight to his body. This time, however, Nasrudinov reversed the position, putting Almeida on his back with two minutes to work. The Brazilian created space, elevating Nasrudinov and chasing a leg lock from his back.
While there was nothing doing, it did create an opportunity for Almeida to get back to his feet, where Nasrudinov welcomed him with a heavy low kick, only for the Brazilian to again take him down with a beautiful outside trip, finishing the round peppering with shots and searching for yet another takedown.
Seconds into the second round, Almeida again collected Nasrudinov around the waist and put him on the canvas, sinking in one hook and keeping the Russian from spinning by controlling his wrist. He patiently worked to get the sink hook in, fished his arm under the neck, and locked up the choke, leaving Nasrudinov no choice but to tap.
The Brazilian instantly broke down in tears, overjoyed with the victory and what it likely means, closing out the show with a dominant performance and a massive upset win.
Official Result: Jailton Almeida def. Nasrudin Nasrudinov at 1:49 of Round 2
Brandon Lewis vs Mo Miller
Things started out tactical in this one, with Miller stalking forward and Lewis content to work on the outside, looking to attack with low kicks. Because of the height disparity, he struggled to land too many of those kicks as Miller looked to land long range punches before chasing forward, closing the distance and dragging this fight to the floor.
On the canvas, Miller was in complete control, peppering Lewis with short punches before putting his shoulders on the canvas, working from inside his guard for all but the final 10 seconds of the round.
Lewis again came out looking to chip away with the low calf kicks, having some success initially before Miller pressed forward and backed him towards the fence. Lewis circled out well and connected with another hard low kick that got Miller’s attention, but the wrestler responded by sticking a sharp jab in Lewis’ mug that busted him up and created an opportunity to wrestle.
Just as he did in the first round, Miller easily put Lewis on the deck and controlled things from top position, keeping the Florida-based fighter stuffed up against the cage, landing sporadic ground-and-pound and not giving Lewis a chance to land anything of substance or get back to his feet.
Lewis worked forward to start the third, pressuring Miller and attacking with those same low kicks, but once again, the former All-American changed levels and continued to work for the takedown, staying with it until he put Lewis’ shoulders on the canvas. Lewis tried to attack from body, but Miller refused to give him any real space to work, keeping Lewis’ hips covered and peppering with short shots from top position.
Lewis created space and worked back to his feet with a little over 90 seconds remaining, coming forward and attacking with strikes, only to have Miller drop down, turn the corner, and put him on the canvas one more time, grinding out the final minute from top position.
This was a one-sided, wrestling-heavy showing from Miller, who dominated on the canvas and remains undefeated after sweeping the scorecards. While this wasn’t the most exciting effort of the night, it was a dominant showing from the Strong Style Fight Team representative, but will it be enough to secure him a contract at the end of the night?
Official Result: Mo Miller def. Brandon Lewis by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Albert Duraev vs Caio Bittencourt
Bittencourt came out firing long-range weapons, attacking with low kicks and long strikes, but Duraev took it all and quickly pressed forward, taking Bittencourt to the canvas. While the Brazilian tried to work free, Duraev was able to keep him on the canvas, climbing into mount before wrapping up wrist control and bombarding Bittencourt with a steady stream of short, persistent punches.
Try as he might to build his way back to his feet, Bittencourt could not get there and Duraev switched gears, clamping onto a neck crank, flattening the Brazilian out and collecting the tap.
From there, the 32-year-old Xtreme Couture representative went and had a little chat with Dana White, asking the UFC President if he liked the performance (he did) and telling him he’d smash anyone in the division.
Just a dominant effort from Duraev from start to finish, all three-and-a-half minutes of it.
Official Result: Albert Duraev def. Ciao Bittencourt by submission (neck crank) at 3:29 of Round 1
Lukasz Brzeski vs Dylan Potter
There was no feeling out process with the heavyweights, as Potter came forward to get in Brzeski’s face right out of the chute, only to have the Polish fighter respond with a pair of heavy leg kicks. They continued slinging at one another in bunches for the next minute before the early energy waned a little and the output slowed.
Just ahead of the two minute mark, Brzeski put Potter on the deck with an outside low kick, crowding him along the fence and working from top position, attacking with punches and elbows while easily avoiding an armbar attempt. Potter hit a nifty reversal off the fence, kicking off the wall to escape over the back of Brzeski and get back to his feet with roughly 90 seconds remaining in the round, with the pace slowing dramatically, Brzeski landing the significantly better blows, but also showing signs of fatigue as the horn sounded.
Brzeski went right back to the calf kick to start the second, prompting Potter to fire back wildly, with the striking getting a little sloppy. The Polish heavyweight closed the distance and initiated the clinch, but wasn’t able to do anything with it, as Potter worked free into space without taking any damage. Though he appeared to be the fresher, looser man, Potter couldn’t land any real significant offense, prompting Brzeski to again push forward and unload combinations, forcing the American to cover up along the fence.
Midway through the round, Brzeski forcibly slammed Potter to the canvas from a body lock, quickly climbing into a mounted crucifix position and attacking with elbows. While Potter was able to escape the trapped position, he remained turtled on the canvas, with Brzeski attacking with short punches for the remainder of the round.
Brzeski started the third with another low kick before backing Potter up with punches, returning to the same position along the fence where he finished the second, only for Potter to work his way free and into space. While Brzeski was clearly tired, he continued pressing forward and throwing, taking the fight to the wilting American, who showed a ton of grit and heart, but little in the way of effective offense.
With two minutes remaining, Brzeski dumped Potter to the canvas with an easy takedown, attacking with a no-hooks rear-naked choke. After readjusting his positioning, Brzeski attacked the choke again and the fight was halted.
Potter questioned why the fight was halted, saying he never tapped, and replays showed he was likely trying to peel Brzeski’s arm away.
While the finish may have been hurried, the final outcome was never in doubt, as Brzeski dominated the contest and was headed towards a victory.
Official Result: Lukasz Brzeski def. Dylan Potter by submission (rear-naked choke) at 3:51 of Round 3
Ange Loosa vs Jack Della Maddalena
Right out of the gate, Loosa came forward, pumping the jab and landing outside low kicks, trying to get in rhythm quickly against the traditionally slow starting Australian. Following a frantic scramble where both men performed well, Della Maddalena began getting loose with his hands, landing a right hand to the side of the head that wobbled Loosa a little.
Once he started throwing, Della Maddalena controlled the remainder of the frame, switching stances, mixing his strikes, and catching Loosa with interrupting shots that kept the Sanford MMA representative from being able to settle in and land with frequency, forcing him to settle for single head shots that rarely found a home.
The crispness and cleanness of Della Maddalena’s strikes was on display early in the second as he put together a series of shots that stung Loosa, prompting a “that didn’t hurt me” head shake from the Switzerland native, a telltale sign that it did indeed hurt. The former rugby man continued pressing forward behind his hands, finding additional success before the fight was paused due to an inadvertent knee below the belt, earning Della Maddalena a warning and Loosa a chance to shake it off.
Restarted with roughly half the round remaining, Della Maddalena again connected in combination, peppering Loosa as they stood in close range of one another. But Della Maddalena slipped in the center of the cage and Loosa capitalized, chasing him to the canvas and locking up a deep arm triangle choke, forcing the Aussie to defend and work his way free, timing his explosion and scramble perfectly. Back on the feet for the final stretch of the round, Della Maddalena began throwing lead elbows, clipping Loosa with a pair right before the horn.
Taking the center to begin the third, Della Maddalena again started by picking at Loosa, defending an early takedown shot to keep the action on the feet. As it had been throughout the contest, Della Maddalena continued to throw and land combinations, snapping home punches with much greater frequency than Loosa, mixing in a takedown attempt just to keep his foe off balance.
Fighting in the third round for the first time in his career, Della Maddalena began to slow and Loosa started having a little more success, only to have the Australian dig deep and begin upping his output once again. Late in the round, Loosa changed levels and drove through a takedown attempt, putting Della Maddalena on his back, only to have the Perth native show more urgency and aggressive before working his way back to his feet. Down the stretch, Della Maddalena closed it out by throwing more volume, taking it to the bloodied Loosa through the horn.
For the second time this week, the judges were called upon to declare the winner and all three saw it the same way, awarding Della Maddalena a clean sweep of the scorecards.
Official Result: Jack Della Maddalena def. Ange Loosa by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Jasmine Jasudavicius vs Julia Polastri
The size difference between Jasudavicius and Polastri was apparent as soon as they walked out to the center to start the fight and came into play early as the Canadian patiently worked into the clinch and put Polastri on the deck. Once it got there, Jasudavicus never allowed the Brazilian to return to her feet, battering Polastri from top position, climbing to mount and opening up down the stretch with punches and elbows that made referee Mark Smith come in for a closer look.
Polastri came out of the corner throwing, catching Jasudavicius with a clean left hand and a high kick early in the second round, only to walk into a body lock that allowed the Niagara Falls native to take the fight to the ground. This time, Jasudavicius couldn’t find a way in and Polsatri got back to her feet, opening up with strikes again and calling Jasudavicius in. The Canadian obliged, changing levels and taking the fight to the canvas once more, only for Polastri to again work her way back up, with the two engaging in the clinch along the fence.
Jasudavicius controlled the action in close, logging knees to the midsection and forcing Polastri to carry her weight along the cage, but as they moved into space, the Brazilian again had success, sniping at the former CFFC title challenger, diversifying her strikes, and connecting with more than a couple solid blows prior to the end of the second.
Polastri continued walking down Jasudavicius and putting it on the Canadian to start the third, forcing her to move backwards while connecting with several solid shots as Jasudavicius’ energy bar continued to slide towards zero. Emboldened by her success, Polastri got a little over-confident and careless late in the round, allowing Jasudavicius to change levels and drive through a takedown, working to half guard and attacking with elbows, finishing the round and the fight in dominant fashion.
After the tens and nines were tallied, the judges all saw the fight the same way, awarding Jasudavicius the unanimous decision victory. With the win, the Canadian advances to 6-1, while Polastri falls to 8-3 with the loss.
Official Result: Jasmine Jasudavicius def. Julie Polastri by unanimous decision (29-27, 29-27, 29-27)
Contract Winners And Interviews | Dana White’s Contender Series Season 5 Episode 2
Contract Winners And Interviews | Dana White’s Contender Series Season 5 Episode 2
Season 5, Episode 2 Results, Scorecards & More
September 7, 2021 | UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada
One week into the fifth season of Dana White’s Contender Series and there has already been an historic moment and a highlight reel knockout, with the UFC President awarding the first-ever contract to a losing fighter and AJ Fletcher kicking off this year with a first-round flying knee finish last Tuesday on the opener.
While the bar for this week’s second event of the season was set exceptionally high, the strong collection of athletes assembled in Las Vegas this evening did their best to reach those heights, combining to deliver five exciting bouts that produced another collection of contract winners with intriguing upside headed to the UFC roster.
After handing out five contracts to open the season, White brought five more fighters into the fold on Tuesday night, bringing all five victorious talents into the fold.
Opening fight underdog Chad Anheliger, flyweight finisher CJ Vergara, hardened Brazilian Saimon Oliveira, veteran Chidi Njokuani, and unbeaten welterweight Josh Quinlan all got the call, upping the roster count in five different divisions by one, and bringing the season total to 10 already.
Here’s how the action played out on Tuesday night.
Logan Urban vs Josh Quinlan
Urban took the center of the cage to start, Quinlan content to stay on the outside and look for an opening. When he stepped in to close the distance, the Hawaiian blasted the short-notice replacement with a hellacious right hand, putting Urban on rubber legs.
While the Ohio native stayed upright, Quinlan chased him down and continued throwing, blasting him with a series of right hands, chopping Urban down a little more with each blow, prompting referee Mike Beltran to jump in and stop the fight.
What an absolutely brilliant showing from Josh Quinlan!
Official Result: Josh Quinlan def. Logan Urban by TKO (strikes) at 0:47 of Round 1
Mario Sousa vs Chidi Njokuani
The middleweights traded kicks at range early, each man making reads, taking their time to begin the contest, Sousa landing hard to the outside of the lead leg twice. They continued trading kicks for the next minute, with Sousa finally closing the distance after Njokuani slipped on the canvas, only to have the long-time veteran take the control position on the fence.
As they battled in the clinch, Sousa connected with a flush knee below the belt, pausing the action. Njokuani wisely took several minutes to recover, refusing to rush back into the fray while compromised, with referee Herb Dean giving Sousa a hard warning for the foul.
They touched gloves and the fight restarted with roughly half of the round remaining, the kick-heavy chess match continuing briefly before Sousa pressed forward, resulting in a scramble. Njokuani landed in the control position on the fence and Sousa once again landed low, halting the action again.
Njokuani again took his time recovering, and Dean took a point from Sousa for the second illegal blow. They restarted once more with just over a minute remaining, with Sousa showing a little more urgency with his hands, with Njokuani sniping clean counters, prompting the Brazilian to initiate the clinch and pull guard, giving Njokuani the opportunity to work from top position through to the horn.
Njokuani came forward to start the second, and when Sousa looked to rush forward and throw, the veteran connected with a counter strike that stopped him in his tracks. Clinched along the fence, Njokuani landed at will inside, mixing in knees to the body and strikes to the head as Sousa looked to work free. The Brazilian changed levels and looked for a takedown, dragging Njokuani to the canvas, but the Texas native quickly reversed position, attacking from inside Sousa’s guard.
While Sousa tried to look for openings, Njokuani flowed with him, battering the Brazilian with elbows and punches from top position. As Sousa tried to control wrists, Njokuani happily banged home more elbows, avoiding every small opening the Brazilian manufactured, floating through scrambles and punishing Sousa all the while.
Njokuani walked down Sousa to start the third, grabbing the Thai clinch and felling the Brazilian with a knee to the midsection, following him to the canvas and resuming the offensive onslaught he delivered to close the second round.
Working in front of his corner, Njokuani poured on the pressure, forcing Sousa to cover up and Dean to stop the fight.
Just a tremendous all-around effort from the veteran middleweight to get the stoppage, pushing his record to 20-7 in the process.
Official Result: Chidi Njokuani def. Mario Sousa by TKO (strikes) at 1:35 of Round 3
Saimon Oliveira vs Jose Alday
Oliveira opened up with kicks and a spinning backfist attempt, coming forward and offering offense as Alday happily waited to counter and figure out his timing. That paid off just a few ticks after the first minute, as Alday cracked Oliveira with a clean combination, prompting the Brazilian to look to respond and the pace of the contest to quicken.
Oliveira continued to look for kicks and spinning attacks, coming up empty on the spins each time, but it allowed him to get inside and elevate Alday to the canvas, landing in top position midway through the round. Oliveira patiently worked to side control and looked to establish position to attack an arm-triangle choke, but ran out of time before the horn sounded.
The Brazilian again offered a spinning attack and missed, creating an opportunity for Alday to land a solid punch in return, following it with a digging uppercut to the midsection. Oliveira looked for a takedown, but the Mexican veteran stuffed it and reversed him into the fence, the duo trading knees in the clinch.
They broke into space with three minutes remaining in the round and resumed throwing big shots at each other, with Alday landing clean and Oliveira responding in kind. A low kick knocked Oliveira off balance and he missed another spin, but still managed to chase down Alday and initiate the clinch, only to have the position reversed. Back in space again, Alday chopped at the lead leg once more and landed a clean left hand, only for Oliveira to return fire again, keeping things close between the warring bantamweights heading into the final round.
Oliveira started the third with a flying knee attempt that fell short and the two started slugging it out, firing hammers in close quarters, with the Brazilian connecting with a straight right hand and stunning Alday. Surprisingly, Oliveira took the fight to the canvas, landing in Alday’s guard, providing the Mexican fighter a chance to recover before trying to work back to his feet.
Two minutes in, Alday got back to his feet and they broke into space with half of the round remaining. Alday called Oliveira in and the Brazilian obliged, driving through a takedown and putting him on the canvas in the center of the cage. Once again, the action on the ground was limited, with Oliveira looking to pass and Alday simply trying to tie him up and stall.
Back up with 30 seconds remaining, Oliveira called Alday in and hit him with two good shots, with the Mexican veteran looking to respond at the horn, sending the decision to the judges.
When the tens and nines were tallied, the officials were once again split, with two of the three seeing things for Oliveira.
Official Result: Saimon Oliveira def. Jose Alday by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
CJ Vergara vs Bruno Korea
Vergara came out pressuring Korea right away, clipping him with a right hook out of the chute that got the Brazilian’s attention, and he never let off the gas. He continued pressing forward behind his hands, forcing Korea to look to clinch, and as they started to break apart, Vergara buried a knee into Korea’s midsection, folding the former Ultimate Fighter contestant over in pain, bringing the fight to an immediate halt.
Just a beautiful performance from the Pete Spratt protege against a talented, experienced opponent.
Official Result: CJ Vergara def. Bruno Korea by TKO (knee to the body) at 0:41 of Round 1
Muin Gafurov vs Chad Anheliger
It took all of 30 seconds for Gafurov to change levels and drive through a takedown, putting Anheliger on his backside in the center of the Octagon. Though he worked his way to the fence and tried to stand, Gafurov stayed sticky and returned the Canadian to the canvas, climbing on his back and sinking in his hooks.
While Anheliger looked to scramble, Gafurov continued to stay with him, floating through every transition through the opening half of the round. As they continued to grapple, Anheliger worked his way to top position, landing in side control before they stood and reset with two minutes remaining in the round.
Back on the feet, Anheliger dropped the Tajik fighter with a knee up the middle, continuing to throw offense from top position while Gafurov looked to recover and remain active off his back. Gafurov recovered and they ended the frame battling along the fence, the momentum shifting into Anheliger’s favor heading into the second round.
Early in the second, Anheliger attacked with low kicks, taking Gafurov off balance and prompting the grappler to shoot for a takedown. While “The Monster” grabbed onto a guillotine, he couldn’t lock it down, resulting in Gafurov landing heavy punches from top position. Anheliger threw up an armbar attempt that resulted in a scramble, but Gafurov remained tight on his back, grabbing a waist lock as they battled along the fence, kicking out Anheliger’s foot and climbing on his back as they hit the canvas.
Anheliger swiftly reversed position and allowed Gafurov to get back to his feet, hitting him with a sharp elbow. As they traded along the fence, an errant knee from Gafurov landed low, prompting a pause in the action and a stern warning from referee Mike Beltran.
Restarted with two minutes remaining in the round, they went right back into the clinch, with Gafurov elevating Anheliger and depositing him on the canvas, settling into half guard, spending the rest of the round stationed in the position with Gafurov finishing the round with a little ground-and-pound.
Gafurov began the third closing the distance behind an overhand right, getting in on Anheliger’s hips, searching for a takedown, only for the Canadian to defend and break free into space. Stationed on the Howler Head logo in the center of the Octagon, Anheliger picked at Gafurov with strikes, prompting the Tajik fighter to close the distance. Once more, Anheliger stuffed the takedown and sniped from range, resulting in another level change and takedown attempt from Gafurov.
Anheliger again stayed upright and broke free, connecting with shots in space and landing in top position after a sloppy clinch attempt from Gafurov with 90 seconds remaining in the fight. As they got back to their feet, it was Gafurov who let loose a clean left hand while looking to close the distance, but Anheliger wore it well, with the two men trading punches through to the final horn.
This was a solid scrap to start the night and a closely contested battle, with the judges being tasked with determining the victor. When the scores were tallied, it was Anheliger that came out on the happy side of the split decision verdict, extending his unbeaten streak to nine in the process.
Official Result: Chad Anheliger def. Muin Gafurov by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
Season 5, Episode 1 Results, Scorecards & More
August 31, 2021 | UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada
Through four seasons, Dana White’s Contender Series has been a goldmine of new talent for the promotion, both inside and outside of the Octagon.
In addition to graduating 127 competitors to the UFC over those course of the past four years, the Tuesday night staple has also been where current broadcast staples Brendan Fitzgerald, Paul Felder, Michael Bisping, and Laura Sanko cut their teeth on UFC airwaves, going from hopefuls to fixtures the same way standouts like Geoff Neal, Alex Perez, and Sean O’Malley have parlayed Contender Series success into huge opportunities inside the Octagon.
This evening, another season of action got underway inside the UFC APEX, with four pairs of fighters squaring off in hopes of joining Alonzo Menifield, Punahele Soriano, Dustin Jacoby, and Uros Medic as competitors to secure contracts on the opening night of a new season.
Following the completion of this season’s first four fights, UFC President Dana White reviewed the action and started handing out contracts, making history in the opening event of the season.
White awarded contracts to both Victor Altamirano and Carlos Candelario, praising the former’s sense of urgency in the third round and the latter’s effort after taking the bout on two weeks' notice. In doing so, Candelario becomes the first fighter to earn a contract despite not earning a victory.
In addition to the flyweight combatants, White handed contracts to each of the three additional winners — welterweight AJ Fletcher, featherweight Joanderson Brito, and light heavyweight Azamat Murzakanov.
It’s a big start to the new season with five fighters joining the UFC roster this evening.
Here’s a look at what transpired inside the Octagon.
Matheus Scheffel vs Azamat Murzakanov
Headliners Matheus Scheffel and Azamat Murzakanov took a little time to feel each other out in the opening round of this season’s first main event, with the orthodox versus southpaw matchup and power of both men keeping them tentative.
But as the round progressed, Murzakanov started getting closer with each reaching left power shot, and as he backed the Brazilian into the fence midway through the round, “The Professional” finally connected clean, dropping Scheffel in a heap and ending the fight in a flash.
This was a blistering finish for the 32-year-old Russian, who was forced to withdraw from a UFC assignment in the spring of 2016, which ended up creating Dominick Reyes’ opportunity to enter the Octagon for the first time. Having now run his winning streak to 10 after closing out the show with a flash, there is a good chance Murzakanov will get another chance to make the walk to the Octagon for the first time in the not too distant future.
Official Result: Azamat Murazkanov def. Matheus Scheffel by TKO (punches) at 3:00 of Round 1
Joanderson Brito vs Diego Lopes
It took Joanderson Brito four seconds to press forward and gather up Diego Lopes, dumping him to the canvas and controlling him on the mat for the opening two minutes of their featherweight contest, peppering Lopes with heavy elbows and a handful of heavy body shots in the process. But the talented Lopes wasn’t at all bothered, working to shift his hips and position himself to attack an armbar, lacing up the arm and forcing Brito to defend.
After breaking free and returning to the center of the Octagon, the Brazilians got after it on the feet, slinging hard shots, with both men landing at times, setting the stage for an exciting second round.
They wasted no time getting after it to begin the middle frame, with Brito serving as the aggressor, only to get stuck in a tight guillotine choke. Lopes looked to have the hold locked in, but Brito managed to extract his neck, and when he did, he unloaded from top position, connecting with some nasty blows. Once again, Lopes countered by hunting submissions, first attacking a leg in transition before chasing an anaconda choke, neither of which were particularly close, but each of which forced Brito to slow his offensive output momentarily, only for the streaking 26-year-old to return to top position and continue to bomb away on Lopes, before the LUX Fight League champ chased a kneebar in the closing moments of the round.
Ten seconds into the final round, Brito extended his finger in Lopes’ eye, bringing the action to a halt. The doctor came in to speak with Lopes, who relayed that he was having problem seeing out of both eyes, and the bout was ultimately waved off.
Brito had been warned by referee Chris Tognoni on multiple occasions earlier in the bout, and a point was deducted even after the fight was halted, as the round needed to be scored in order to determine the final decision.
Lopes was understandably heartbroken with the way the fight ended, fighting off tears as the fighters awaited the verdict. Brito emerged with the decision win, but he was none too excited either, disappointed that he wasn’t able to finish the contest the way he had hoped.
Official Result: Joanderson Brito def. Diego Lopes by technical unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Victor Altamirano vs Carlos Candelario
Flyweights Victor Altamirano and Carlos Candelario started at a good clip and never let off the gas, meeting in the center and letting loose with their weapons instantly, with Candelario quickly taking control of the action in the first. While Altamirano landed a couple sharp low kicks, the returning Season 1 alum mixed things up well, stinging the 30-year-old LFA champ with a few sharp punches and successfully bringing the fight to the canvas on multiple occasions, getting off some good ground-and-pound from top position.
The pace slowed a little early in the second and Altamirano was more successful defending takedowns to start. But a clean left hand served as a tremendous entrance opportunity for Candelario, who worked hard to get Altamirano on the deck and control him on the canvas for an extended stretch. Once they got back to their feet, Altamirano showed a little more urgency and finished the frame with a throw, heading into the third having finally gathering some momentum.
In the final stanza, Altamirano was the aggressor, getting off with his strikes far more than he did in the first two rounds as Candelario’s output waned and energy stores ran low. Though he wasn’t able to secure a finish, the 30-year-old clearly won the frame, sending the decision to the judges.
When the tens and nines were tallied, the judges were split, with Altamirano coming away on the happy side of the verdict. With the win, the LFA titleholder advances to 10-1 overall, while Candelario moves to 8-1 and falls from the ranks of the unbeaten.
Official Result: Victor Altamirano def. Carlos Candelario by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
Leonardo Damiani vs AJ Fletcher
AJ Fletcher got the season off to an explosive start, setting the bar for the best knockout of the season extremely high as he laid out Leonardo Damiani with a flying knee knockout midway through the opening round.
The welterweight hopefuls got after it right out of the gate, meeting in the center of the Octagon and swinging heavy leather immediately, skipping the entire feeling out process. After settling in a little and chopping at Damiani’s lead leg with a couple heavy calf kicks, Fletcher showed the range of his skill set, dropping down for a perfectly timed takedown that put the Italian on the deck.
While Damiani worked his way back to his feet, he remained with his back against the fence, and Fletcher capitalized, landing a picturesque flying knee. Damiani dropped in a heap and Fletcher erupted in celebration, closing out the first fight of the season in memorable fashion.
Official Result: AJ Fletcher def. Leonardo Damiani by KO (flying knee) at 2:24 of Round 1