Starting the second half of their season, the “Dana White’s Contender Series” returns on Tuesday night. Like the episodes before, 10 MMA pros competed for the chance at being offered a UFC contract.
Four Fighters Offered UFC Contracts
At the end of the show, UFC President Dana White offered contracts to Aliaskhab Khizriev, Drako Rodriguez, Phil Hawes and Tafon Nchukwi. Sherrard Blackledge was offered another fight on the show.
While all five winners were offered contracts, White commended all 10 fighters who appeared on the show.
“We liked everybody here tonight. Winners, losers, they all came to fight,” said White.
Bout 5: Tafon Nchukwi (3-0) vs. Al Matavao (8-2) (Light Heavyweight)
Nchukwi Lands Stunning Head Kick KO
The evening finished with a knockout, as a head kick from Tafon Nchukwi dropped Al Matavao in the second round.
The knockout kept Matavao down for numerous minutes afterwards.
“If you’ve seen out there how I’ve put in work, I’m planning to do the same once I get that contract,” said Nchukwi after his fight.
Nchukwi only had fought three times before, with two of the fights happening in regional promotion CFFC. One of the wins came against William Knight, who is also now a signed UFC fighter.
Bout 4: Cameron Church (4-0) vs. Sherrard Blackledge (4-0) (Lightweight)
Blackledge Keeps Church Down To Win
Remaining undefeated, Sherrard Blackledge’s wrestling helped move him to a unanimous decision victory over Cameron Church. The fight saw Blackledge control Church throughout with takedowns and ground control.
“We knew we had to leave it all in there,” said Blackledge in his post-fight interview.
Blackledge had four previous fights as a pro from 2018 and 2019.
The fight was the first loss for Church as a pro.
Blackledge versus Church play-by-play.
Bout 3: Phil Hawes (7-2) vs. Khadzhimurat Bestaev (10-3) (Middleweight)
Right Hook Gives Hawes Victory
Phil Hawes scored an explosive finish in the third bout, dropping Khadzhimurat Bestaev with a right hook to win the fight. The finish came in the second minute of the round.]
“I’m gonna be a world champion,” said a composed Hawes in his post-fight interview.
Bestaev had a significant height advantage over Hawes in the fight.
Hawes had appeared on the first season of “Dana White’s Contender Series,” although in that bout he lost to Julian Marquez via head kick.
His previous three fights prior to Tuesday were wins in Bellator and Brave CF.
Bestaev had two submission victories in his bouts leading up to Tuesday.
Hawes versus Bestaev play-by-play.
Bout 2: Mana Martinez (6-1) vs. Drako Rodriguez (6-1)(Bantamweight)
Rodriguez Wins Quick With Triangle Choke
Another stoppage win came on the show after Drako Rodriguez choked out Mana Martinez with a triangle choke. The fight saw Rodriguez capitalize on losing top position on the ground, putting in a submission from the bottom.
The fight went to the ground early after Rodriguez caught a kick while coming forward.
“That just happened out of nowhere,” said Martinez in his post-fight interview, also mentioning how he wanted to showcase his striking more in the fight.
Before the win, Rodriguez had two consecutive wins on the regional MMA scene.
The fight snapped a five-fight winning streak for Martinez that was obtained through regional promotions LFA and Fury FC.
Bout 1: Aliaskhab Khizriev (12-0) vs. Henrique Shiguemoto (13-3-1) (Middleweight)
Khizriev Remains Undefeated
The show kicked off with a quick win, as Aliaskhab Khizriev stopped Henrique Shiguemoto in under a minute with a rear naked choke. The fight got to the ground early after Khizriev got a takedown from a clinch.
The win was the 13th for Khisriev as a pro, keeping him undefeated.
“It’s not my weight class, I feel little uncomfortable,” said Khizriev’s translator in the post-fight interview.
The previous fights for Khizriev happened at welterweight, which is 15-pounds under what he fought at on Tuesday.
Shiguemoto, the HEAT Middleweight Champion, came into the fight on an eight-fight streak of wins.