Following a one-week hiatus for International Fight Week, Dana White's Tuesday Night Contender Series returns with five fights and 10 fighters all looking to earn a spot on the UFC roster.
On the last Contender Series card, Antonina Shevchenko - older sister of top-ranked women's flyweight competitor Valentina Shevchenko - looked impressive in the featured bout on the card to earn her spot in the UFC.
Meanwhile, Te Edwards needed just 28 seconds to blast home a first-round knockout to get his call up to the UFC from Dana White.
Finally, Josh Parisian, who was a late notice replacement on the card, pulled off a spectacular spinning back fist knockout in the first round to defeat Greg Rebello. Afterwards, Parisian was given a spot on the latest season of The Ultimate Fighter that will be coached by middleweight champion Robert Whittaker and top-ranked contender Kelvin Gastelum.
The newest installment of the Contender series will see a featured bout between an ultra exciting featherweight making the move up to 155 pounds as Kevin Aguilar will take on Joey Gomez. Also on the card, Bevon Lewis, who made quite an impression on the Contender Series last year, will return for another fight in an attempt to secure his spot on the UFC roster.
With that said, let's take a look at the fights taking place during week three of Dana White's Tuesday Night Contender Series.
KEVIN AGUILAR VS. JOEY GOMEZ
The featured bout of the card will showcase a pair of fighters known for jaw-dropping finishes, so don't blink once the action starts in this one.
Kevin Aguilar accepted this fight on short notice but he's definitely a fighter who has been on the radar for quite some time thanks to a non-stop action style where he's always looking for the finish. Training out of Texas, Aguilar has won his past six fights, including knockouts over UFC veteran Damon Jackson as well as former Ultimate Fighter competitor Thanh Le. Aguilar may be moving up a weight class but don't discount his ability to surprise just about everybody with his style on Tuesday night.
Meanwhile, Joey Gomez comes to the card with a perfect 7-0 record with finishes in six of those contests. Gomez trains out of Boss MMA in Hawaii while competing in several notable regional promotions in the United States. Gomez is best known for his groundwork, which may help him slow down the incredible pace that Aguilar will undoubtedly put on him during this lightweight showdown.
BEVON LEWIS VS. ALTON CUNNINGHAM
Two men hunting for legendary status.@lBvon_ faces @AltonTheBoMan LIVE on @UFCFightPass https://t.co/W21TW1Oirx pic.twitter.com/AV3Mk5xsuz
— UFC (@ufc) July 9, 2018
Middleweight prospect Bevon Lewis will return to the Contender Series this week with a little more experience under his belt as he takes on Alton Cunningham, who is also undefeated during his young career.
Lewis comes back to the Contender Series with five wins on his resume, including an impressive second-round knockout in his last appearance on the show. Afterwards, White told him that he was definitely a fighter the UFC wanted to watch but he needed a little more experience before earning a spot on the roster. Lewis went out and earned another victory since his last appearance on the show and now he's returning with hopes of proving he's ready for his shot inside the Octagon.
As for Cunningham, he's a 25-year-old prospect training out of Madison, Wisconsin where he works with Perfect Moves Martial Arts. Cunningham has gone undefeated during the first few fights of his career with every matchup ending by way of knockout. Considering the kind of heavy-handed style both of these fighters bring, Lewis and Cunningham should be a crowd pleaser.
TOBY MISECH VS. RICARDO PALACIOS
Hawaiian fighter Toby Misech will look to impress when he makes his Contender Series debut against fellow veteran Ricardo Palacios in a featherweight matchup on the card.
Misech trains out of Hawaii, and he is definitely a striker first, with a slew of knockouts on his resume. He has also faced some solid competition during his career to get him ready for this opportunity. While he loves to strike, don't discount Misech on the ground where he holds a blue belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu.
Meanwhile, Palacios is a very fun prospect to watch as he enters the Contender Series off six straight wins, including a unanimous decision victory over former UFC competitor Chris Avila, who trains under Nick and Nate Diaz. Palacios not only has 10 professional fights on his resume, but he also put together an extensive amateur career with six more wins before he finally decided to turn pro. Palacios has not suffered a loss since 2014 and he's not looking to start now with a chance to earn a contract to fight in the UFC.
JORDAN ESPINOSA VS. RILLEY DUTRO
If Espinosa's name sounds familiar, that's because he also made an appearance on the Contender Series a year ago when he submitted Team Jackson-Winkeljohn prospect Nick Urso with a first-round anaconda choke. While he didn't earn a contract that night, Espinosa wasn't going to be deterred and he returned in March, where he picked up another win before getting the call back to the Contender Series.
As for Dutro, he's the third Hawaiian to appear on the card this week as he steps into the event with seven wins in a row, with his past four fights ending by knockout. That kind of power is somewhat unusual in the 125-pound division so don't think for a second that Dutro won't be gunning for the knockout to ensure he gets a good look from the UFC matchmakers for his shot in the UFC.
The journey leads to this. @JalinTurner & @MustakiMax look to earn UFC contracts THIS Tuesday.
The opening bout of the evening will take place in the lightweight division, as Jalin Turner takes on Max Mustaki.
At just 23 years of age, Turner is a young prospect still growing up in the sport but he has a ton of potential already. Turner has earned victories in four of his past five fights, with all of those wins coming by way of knockout or submission. All of those wins have also come inside the first round, so expect a fast start out of Turner once the referee releases these fighters from their corners.
Mustaki will come to the Contender Series off a first-round TKO in his last performance while picking up six wins with only one decision on his entire resume. Mustaki is an Armed Forces veteran who actually started training while he was still on active duty, which is where he fell in love with grappling. Mustaki now holds a brown belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu but he actually holds more wins by knockout than submission during his career.