UFC reality TV show “Dana White’s Contender Series” will kick off its fifth season on Tuesday night. Like the four previous seasons, the show operates off the structure that fighters put on performances with the chance of being offered a UFC contract by the end of the show.
The first episode of the new season includes four matchups. These fights include LFA Flyweight Champion Victor Altamirano and Brave CF Champion Azamat Murzakanov.
Like all prior seasons, the upcoming fights will take place at the UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA.
Follow along throughout the evening for live updates on the episode.
Main Card (8:00PM EDT / 5:00PM PDT) (ESPN+ / UFC Fight Pass Canada)
Five Fighters, Including Someone Who Lost, Signed To The UFC
UFC President Dana White handed surprisingly handed out five contracts by the end of the night, offering to sign AJ Fletcher, Victor Altamirano, Carlos Candelario, Joanderson Brito and Azamat Murzakanov.
Candelario became the first fighter to get signed by the UFC after losing a bout on “Dana White’s Contender Series.” White mentioned on the broadcast that he had scored the bout two-rounds-to-one in favor of Candelario.
Bout 4: Azamat Murzakanov (9-0) vs. Matheus Scheffel (14-6) (Light Heavyweight)
Murzakanov Lands Hard Right Hook To Extend Undefeated Record
Azamat Murzakanov showed his explosive punching power in Tuesday’s main event, finishing Matheus Scheffel within a round with punches.
Murzakanov first dropped Scheffel with a right hook while backing up. He was able to connect with two more punches on the ground while referee Herb Dean stepped in.
Murzakanov was stepping into an MMA cage for the first time since 2019. He has been undefeated since turning pro in 2010, now with double-digit wins. Two of his most recent wins came in prominent promotion Brave CF.
Scheffel is Future FC’s Light Heavyweight Champion and came into Tuesday on a two-fight winning streak. Like Murzakanov, he was coming off over a year of inactivity from competition.
Bout 3: Diego Lopes (19-3) vs. Joanderson Brito (11-2-1) (Featherweight)
Brito Walks Away With Decision Win Following Deflating Finish
Joanderson Brito picked up a unanimous decision win on Tuesday night, defeating Diego Lopes after an anticlimactic technical decision finish (29-28, 29-28 & 29-28).
The fight was stopped very early into the third round due to a brutal eye poke that landed on Lopes.
The call was made to end the fight after Lopes cited issues with his eyes. Referee Chris Tognoni decided to deduct a point from Brito for the third round before they went to the technical decision.
Brito was putting on a strong showing in the first and second rounds.
Brito immediately scored a takedown in the opening round. Lopes was on his back for nearly four minutes, attempting an armbar at one point while in the position.
The fighters connected with wailing punches when back on the feet in the final minute of the first round.
Brito continued to connect with takedowns in the second round. Lopes remained busy from the bottom, sometimes even using submission attempts to escape his position.
Brito was making his first appearance since 2019. He needed less than a minute in his last appearance, stopping Jose Mariscal in just 44 seconds on an LFA card.
He entered Tuesday on a nine-fight winning streak.
Lopes was on a seven-fight winning streak that mostly consisted of finish wins. He is the current LUX Fight League Featherweight Champion.
Bout 2: Victor Altamirano (9-1) vs. Carlos Candelario (8-0) (Flyweight)
LFA Champ Altamirano Picks Up Scorecard Win
LFA Flyweight Champion Victor Altamirano picked up a split decision win on Tuesday, handing Carlos Candelario his first pro loss (29-28 Altamirano, 29-28 Candelario & 29-28 Altamirano).
Candelario had a strong start to the fight, landing two takedowns and having the better striking. The second round was much closer overall.
Altamirano’s last round was his best, out-landing Candelario on the feed and landing a takedown. Fatigue became a major issue late in the fight, especially for Candelario.
Altamirano earned the LFA Flyweight Championship earlier this year, fighting five rounds to defeat Nate Smith. The fight extended his winning streak to three consecutive.
Altamirano’s sole pro loss came against former UFC fighter Jarred Brooks in 2019.
Candelario appeared on the first season of the “Contender Series” back in 2017, defeating then-undefeated Ronaldo Candido. He was not signed to the UFC after that unanimous decision performance.
He has picked up one win since then, defeating Miguel Restrepo on a CES card just earlier this month.
Bout 1: AJ Fletcher (8-0) vs. Leonardo Damiani (10-2-1) (Welterweight)
Fletcher Remains Undefeated With Flying Knee
Undefeated welterweight AJ Fletcher opened the fifth season of “Dana White’s Contender Series” with a bang, stopping Leonardo Damiani in the first round with a flying knee.
Fletcher charged forward with his right knee in the first round, dropping Damiani immediately. After landing some shots on the ground, the referee stepped in and stopped the bout.
Fletcher now has nine wins since turning pro in 2019. Eight of his wins so far have come via finish.
“Sometimes it’s quick, sometimes it’s not so quick … We come to bring it spectacularly,” said Fletcher about his fighting style during his post-fight interview.
Damiani entered Tuesday night on a four-fight winning streak that included an appearance on Cage Warriors.