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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 8 Preview | Dana White's Contender Series

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

Through the first seven weeks of the fifth season of Dana White’s Contender Series, 28 contracts have been awarded, good for an even four per week, on average.

Should that hold up over the final three weeks of the season, that would mean an additional dozen fighters will be added to the UFC roster, which would surpass last season’s record-setting total of 37.

This season has seen ebbs and flows in the number of contracts awarded each week, with Dana White coming out of the gates to award five contracts each of the first three weeks, including signing a fighter that landed on the losing side of the judges’ decision for the first time. Over the last three weeks, nine fighters have gotten the call to the Octagon, including Cage Warriors standout Jake Hadley, who missed weight, but was too impressive to pass over.

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With three weeks left in the season, will this year set a new benchmark for the number of contracts awarded?

Here’s a look at the five pairs of hopefuls vying to make sure the UFC President has no choice but to hand out a whole bunch of new deals at the end of the night.

Jonny Parsons vs. Solomon Renfro

Jonny Parsons vs Solomon Renfro Preview | DWCS S5E8
Jonny Parsons vs Solomon Renfro Preview | DWCS S5E8

Welterweights man the main event for the third time this year, with Jonny Parsons and Solomon Renfro looking to join Josh Quinlan and Mike Malott as headlining 170-pound talents to earn blistering finishes and UFC contracts in the final fight of the night.

Sporting a 7-2 record and four straight victories, the 30-year-old Parsons has earned three consecutive finishes under the iKon Fighting Federation banner. He’s only lost once since dropping his pro debut, trains with a great crew at Syndicate MMA in Las Vegas, and sports a first-class Kentucky waterfall, all of which combines to make “The Sluggernaut” a must-see competitor this week on the Contender Series.

RELATED: Look Back At All DWCS Season 5 Results

The 24-year-old Renfro is 8-1 as a pro after going 8-1 as an amateur, arriving on a two-fight winning streak. The only man to beat him is Malott, who followed up his win in their clash last December with a 39-second finish in Las Vegas a couple weeks back, which should give you a strong indication of where the dangerous “Black Dragon” is at heading into this one.

The main event welterweights have set the bar pretty high so far this year, but you better believe Parsons and Renfro will be looking to match or better the contract-winning efforts turned in by Quinlan and Malott so far this season when they step into the cage on Tuesday night.

Piera Rodriguez vs. Valesca Machado

Piera Rodriguez vs Valesca Machado Preview | DWCS S5E8
Piera Rodriguez vs Valesca Machado Preview | DWCS S5E8

It’s a battle of South American hopefuls in the strawweight division as unbeaten Venezuelan Piera Rodriguez steps in with streaking Brazilian Valesca Machado in what should be a spirited battle.

Undefeated in six professional appearances, Rodriguez claimed the vacant LFA strawweight title in her most recent appearance in April, finishing Svetlanda Gotsyk just over a minute into the fifth and final round. She’s been training with the team at Blackhouse, mixing in work at the RVCA facility alongside Sabina Mazo and Mackenzie Dern of late, as well, and heads into action this week looking to earn a place on the UFC roster.

Machado, who goes by the moniker “Tina Black,” carries an 8-2 record and a six-fight winning streak into her clash with Rodriguez on Tuesday. She began that run of success with a win over Julia Polastri, who competed on the Contender Series earlier this year, and has collected finishes in each of her last four outings, making her an intriguing dance partner for Rodriguez.

Will the unbeaten fighter leave Las Vegas with her perfect record intact or can Machado add to her winning streak by halting her opponent’s run of success? 

Caio Borralho vs. Jesse Murray

Caio Borralho looks to pick up his second win of the season as he makes a quick return, up a division, in this light heavyweight clash with Jesse Murray.

The 28-year-old Borralho pushed his unbeaten streak to nine with a unanimous decision win over Aaron Jeffery on Week 5, showing quality takedown defense and a solid all-around game against the highly regarded Canadian. When Dana White opted against bringing him into the fold, the Brazilian jumped at the chance to fight in front of the UFC President for a second time, and looks to build on the first impression he made earlier this season when he steps in again here.

A member of the Strong Style Fight Team, the 28-year-old Murray is 8-3 as a professional, having won three straight and six of his last eight appearances. He’s been limited to just two fights since the start of 2019 and hasn’t fought since before the pandemic forced the world into lockdown last February, so it will be interesting to see if how he looks right out of the chute against a fighter that is familiar with the surroundings inside the UFC APEX and fought less than a month ago.

We’ve seen plenty of fighters make the most of second chances — can Borralho become the latest to turn two wins into a UFC contract or will Murray turn him back and join his teammates Stipe Miocic and Aleksa Camur on the UFC roster?

Kaloyan Kolev vs. Armen Petrosyan

The first of two consecutive light heavyweight contests on this week’s card pits undefeated Bulgarian Kaloyan Kolev against Armenian Muay Thai stylist Armen Petrosyan.

Unbeaten in 10 career outings, the 28-year-old Kolev has rarely ventured beyond the first round, going the distance just twice thus far in his career. He has not fought since the summer of 2019, but Kolev has handled his business each time out, which is all you can ask.

Not to be confused with the more famous kickboxer of the same name, the 30-year-old Petrosyan only turned three years ago but has already done enough to merit an opportunity to compete with a UFC contract potentially hanging in the balance. He’s fought three times already this year, alternating wins and losses, but like Kolev, it’s difficult to accurately assess his skills and talents given the level of competition he’s faced thus far.

This contest should provide a good indication of what each man brings to the table and what their prospects look like going forward as they’re arguably the best opponent the other has faced to date.

Pedro Falcao vs. James Barnes

Tuesday night’s action gets underway in the bantamweight division as Brazil’s Pedro Falco squares off with American James Barnes.

Representing the world-famous Nova Uniao, the 29-year-old Falcao has earned three straight victories and wins in eight of his last nine appearances, with that lone setback coming as a result of a shoulder injury. He’s trained with a host of established names over the years, in addition to working with the famed Brazilian team guided by Andre Pederneiras, and he could be an intriguing addition to the 135-pound weight class with a strong showing on Tuesday.

The 39-year-old Barnes looks to make the most of his opportunity on Tuesday night by upsetting the favored Brazilian, arriving in Las Vegas on a three-fight winning streak and having earned victories in eight of his last 10 outings. He’s only lost to established commodities and holds a submission win over former UFC fighter Albert Morales, so while he’s the underdog heading into this one, “Mooka” might be more of a live ‘dog than people think.Will Falcao keep rolling or can Barnes spring an upset to start the night?