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A general look at the UFC APEX during Dana White's Contender Series. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)
Dana White's Contender Series

Season 5 Week 6 Preview | Dana White's Contender Series

Get Ready For Another Week Of Dana White's Contender Series!

At the midway point of Season 5, UFC President Dana White is on pace to extend a record-setting number of contract offers, as 21 competitors have been granted the opportunity to compete inside the Octagon this season, with many of them already inking contracts for their promotional debuts as well.

But after setting a blistering pace through the first four weeks on this season of the Contender Series, last week’s four-fight slate resulted in just a pair of contracts being awarded, as light heavyweight Ihor Potieria and lightweight Daniel Zellhuber parlayed victories into UFC opportunities.

It was the first time all season that fewer than four contracts were awarded and the first time since Week 9 of Season 2 that less than three new names were added to the UFC roster.

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Is it the start of a trend or an anomaly?

Here’s a look at the five sets of fighters that will be looking to help answer that question on Tuesday inside the UFC APEX.

Shimon Smotritsky vs. Mike Malott

Shimon Smotritsky vs Mike Malott Preview | Dana White's Contender Series S5E6
Shimon Smotritsky vs Mike Malott Preview | Dana White's Contender Series S5E6

The final bout of Week 6 takes place in the welterweight division, as unbeaten Israeli

Fighter Shimon Smotritsky makes his North American debut opposite Team Alpha Male striking coach “Proper” Mike Malott.

Sporting an unblemished 7-0 record to begin his career, the 21-year-old Smotritsky has increased his level of competition over his last three fights and still maintained his unbeaten record, sandwiching a first-round stoppage win between a pair of triumphs on the scorecards. He’s been in Las Vegas for the last two months, training at Syndicate MMA alongside a host of talented UFC fighters, including fellow unbeaten Israeli Natan Levy, a member of last year’s graduating class from the Contender Series.

After making countless appearances outside the Octagon, cornering the star-studded cast of competitors from Sacramento’s Team Alpha Male, Malott will look to join his teammates on the UFC roster by securing an emphatic victory over Smotritsky on Tuesday. He’s competed sporadically over the last several years but carries a 6-1-1 record into the cage in Las Vegas, with each of his wins coming inside the opening five minutes and his lone loss coming against current featherweight hopeful Hakeem Dawodu.

Will Smotritsky maintain his unbeaten record, or will Malott add another stoppage victory to his resume and become the latest Team Alpha Male representative to join the UFC ranks?

Daniel Barez vs. Carlos Hernandez

Daniel Barez vs Carlos Hernandez Preview | Dana White's Contender Series, Season 5, Week 6
Daniel Barez vs Carlos Hernandez Preview | Dana White's Contender Series, Season 5, Week 6

So far this season, four flyweight bouts have yielded five contract offers, and Tuesday night, Daniel Barez and Carlos Hernandez look to maintain that rate.

Barez arrives in Las Vegas on a six-fight winning streak that includes his winning and successfully defending the BAMMA flyweight title back in 2017. He was just 6-4 prior to commencing his current winning streak, losing early in his career to current contender Manel Kape, and hasn’t fought since the tail end of 2019, but his positive results against quality competition indicate he should be nothing less than 100 percent when he steps into the cage at the UFC APEX.

Representing the Valle Flow Striking crew from Chicago, Hernandez also heads into this week’s flyweight engagement on a six-fight winning streak after losing his professional debut against Cuban Olympian Gustavo Balart. The 27-year-old has handled his business since then, collecting four stoppages in his six wins, including a pair of victories last year, and will look to follow the path that leads from the VFS Academy to the UFC forged by his teammate Ignacio Bahamondes last season.

Each of this season’s four prior flyweight fights has been entertaining and this one should be no different.

Josh Weems vs. Fernie Garcia

Josh Weems vs Fernie Garcia Preview | Dana White's Contender Series S5E6
Josh Weems vs Fernie Garcia Preview | Dana White's Contender Series S5E6

Bantamweights man the middle of Tuesday’s lineup, as Josh Weems and Fernie Garcia clash in what should be a spirited affair for as long as it lasts.

The 27-year-old Weems has had an eventful last 12 months, going 4-0 in mixed martial arts competition while also competing in boxing, a bare-knuckle bout, and a custom rules fight on Jorge Masvidal’s first Gamebred Fighting Championship card in Biloxi, Mississippi. He’s won seven straight MMA bouts, finishing in each of his last six, with his only career loss coming to Contender Series veteran Chris Ocon in his second professional appearance.

The latest member of the Fortis MMA team to compete on the Contender Series, Garcia looks to join Victor Martinez as Season 5 contract winners from the elite Dallas camp, which has graduated more fighters to the UFC roster through this series than any other team. Riding a four-fight winning streak and brandishing a 9-1 record overall, the 29-year-old Garcia is a tough, durable competitor that battles top-flight talent in the gym every day, and he will surely be well prepared for whatever Weems has to offer him on Tuesday night.

Will Weems continuing adding to his impressive 12-month run or can Garcia become 13th fighter representing Fortis MMA to secure a UFC deal via the Contender Series?

Shonte Barnes vs. Joseph Holmes

Shonte Barnes vs Joseph Holmes Preview | Dana White's Contender Series S5E6
Shonte Barnes vs Joseph Holmes Preview | Dana White's Contender Series S5E6

Action shifts to the light heavyweight division here as Shonte “Shyne” Barnes squares off with “Uglyman” Joe Holmes.

A former football player at Western Carolina University, the 34-year-old Barnes is unbeaten in his last six, posting a 5-0-1 record with five first-round finishes during that stretch. The North Carolina-based fighter was originally slated to face Cody Brundage, but will now face Holmes after the Contender Series alum was called up for a short-notice fight against Nick Maximov at UFC 266.

“Uglyman Joe” carries a 5-1 record and five straight victories into this short-notice opportunity in Las Vegas, looking to maintain his winning streak and punch his ticket to the UFC in the process. After going the distance and losing his pro debut, Holmes has not yet returned to the third round, earning finishes in each of his victories, most recently submitting DeWayne Diggs at LFA 114 in August.

Given their shared penchant for avoiding the scorecards, don’t be surprised if this one is electric out of the gate and over before the judges are asked to render a verdict.

Patrik White vs. Genaro Valdez

Patrik White vs. Genaro Valdez Preview | Dana White's Contender Series S5E6
Patrik White vs. Genaro Valdez Preview | Dana White's Contender Series S5E6

The Week 6 action begins in the lightweight division, where Alaska-based finisher Patrik White squares off with undefeated Mexican hopeful Genaro Valdez.

Entering Tuesday’s contest with a 9-1 record featuring only a couple trips beyond the first round, White looks to show that it’s his collection of finishes are a representation of his skills and potential, and not a reflection of the level of competition he’s faced thus far. As the old saying goes, “You can only beat the guys they put in front of you,” and through his first 10 fights, “Primetime” has disposed of nine adversaries, and wasted little time handling his business.

The second of several fighters from the Entram Gym competing this season on the Contender Series, Valdez brings a 9-0 record with him to Las Vegas, eager to join teammate Michael Morales in securing a contract. A pro since 2016, he’s earned four wins in the last two years, finishing each time out, including a pair of first-round stoppages last year under the Lux Fight League banner.

Someone’s run of success is going to come to an end inside the UFC APEX and the process of determine who will suffer that unfortunate fate should be tremendously entertaining to watch.