Dana White’s Contender Sequence 38: Grading the winners
Week 2 of Dana White’s Contender Sequence (2021) passed off on Tuesday in Las Vegas, and we’re grading the winners from the four-fight card, which streamed on ESPN+ from the UFC Apex.
With a easy however digestible format that has had the MMA fanbase responding, this sequence has proven to have legs in a number of methods whereas serving as a crockpot for contenders whom the UFC matchmakers can use for future occasions. So, with that development in thoughts, I’ll as soon as once more be having a look on the profitable fighters no matter whether or not or not they gained a UFC contract, grading their performances with reference to their likelihood of returning to a UFC stage.
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – SEPTEMBER 07: (R-L) Chad Anheliger punches Muin Gafurov in a bantamweight combat throughout Dana White’s Contender Sequence season 5 week two at UFC APEX on September 07, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Picture by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)
Weight class: Bantamweight Consequence: Chad Anheliger def. Muin Gafarov by way of break up determination (29-28, 28-29, 29-28) Grade: B
Abstract: After coming via in a gritty efficiency as the most important underdog on the cardboard, I discovered it laborious to offer Chad Anhelinger something in need of a B for beating Muin Gafarov within the opening bout.
Gafarov, who has expertise combating in powerful organizations that vary from ACA to ONE Championship, was capable of showcase a few of his wrestling and sambo expertise early to safe some dominant positions on Anhelinger. That mentioned, the Canadian fighter stored his cool when Gafarov went for submissions, as Anhelinger was capable of neatly choose his spots to create scrambles and swim for single-leg reversals (a way and intuition that scores extremely with me).
The fighters rapidly returned to their toes, the place Anhelinger ended up dropping Gafarov with a knee to tilt the primary spherical in his favor on two of the three decide’s scorecards.
Spherical 2 following an identical move with regard to Anhelinger taking on after a powerful begin from Gafarov, however the native of Tajikistan was capable of take the spherical again over after a short respite from a foul that he dedicated. Gafarov did his greatest to get the combat again to the ground within the ultimate body, however Anhelinger demonstrated strong protection in opposition to the fence and was additionally the clearly sharper striker on the toes as effectively.
I can’t categorical how a lot respect I’ve for fighters who can overcome tough begins like Anhelinger has, as I wasn’t mad to see him rewarded with a UFC contract regardless of the Oprah-like vibes that this present has been pushing aside with regard to the way in which it unabashedly recruits expertise to assist fill a contractually-obligated ESPN schedule. However I digress.
Ought to Anhelinger return later this 12 months, then I wish to see him matched up with fighters like Vinc Morales or Kris Moutinho – although I think that the UFC could pair him up with somebody from the newest season of “The Final Fighter.”
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – SEPTEMBER 07: (R-L) CJ Vergara punches Bruno Korea in a flyweight combat throughout Dana White’s Contender Sequence season 5 week two at UFC APEX on September 07, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Picture by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)
Weight class: Flyweight Consequence: CJ Vergara def. Bruno Korea by way of Knockout (knee, punches) – spherical 1, 0:41 Grade: A
Abstract: Though a few of us had been excited to see Bruno Korea return to a UFC stage, CJ Vergara made certain these ideas had been short-lived as he earns a simple A for his fast destruction of “The Final Fighter: Brazil” alumni.
Vergara, who was locked in and looking out assured from Soar Avenue, got here out and neatly pressured the kick-heavy model of Korea (because the Texan usually likes to combat off the counter). Vergara has sharp eyes in exchanges as he appeared to see every part Korea was throwing, whether or not it was the Brazilians turning sidekicks or the spinning backfists that adopted in a counter-balancing trend.
After hurting Korea in an trade of hooks, Vergara confirmed strong shot protection as he displayed some savvy threats and frames en path to touchdown a vicious knee to his Brazilian foe’s physique off of the break for a first-round end. Couple all that with Vergara’s infectious character, and it was a no brainer with reference to predicting a contract for the American.
Ought to Vergara make a fast turnaround off this quick evening of labor, then I say pair him up with Malcolm Gordon for a enjoyable and doable combat between two North American rivals.
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – SEPTEMBER 07: (L-R) Saimon Oliveira kicks Jose Alday in a bantamweight combat throughout Dana White’s Contender Sequence season 5 week two at UFC APEX on September 07, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Picture by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)
Weight class: Bantamweight Consequence: Saimon Oliveira def. Jose Alday by way of break up determination (29-28, 28-29, 29-28) Grade: B
Abstract: Though Saimon Oliveira must accept a strong B, I virtually really feel like each he and Jose Alday deserve A’s in spirit for truly checking calf kicks as their contest carried on (one thing that makes me very comfortable to see from the youthful era).
The combat, total, was a well-matched and entertaining affair for essentially the most half. Oliveira, whose trunk coloration and muay Thai swagger was harking back to the character Paco in Bloodsport, bravely marched ahead behind a excessive guard in an effort to unleash laborious kicks at a number of ranges. Oliveira has a pleasant test hook that he retains in his again pocket, however the 30-year-old appears to spin a bit an excessive amount of for my liking.
The Astra Struggle Workforce product can even take a combat to the ground when he must, although a few of his takedown makes an attempt got here off as both determined or poorly timed (particularly when he had Alday damage within the ultimate body).
Nonetheless, I think that Oliveira’s athleticism and putting model will make for some enjoyable fights within the UFC, as I wouldn’t thoughts seeing him in one other worldwide pairing with do-or-die bantamweights like Cameron Else or Mark Striegl.
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – SEPTEMBER 07: (L-R) Chidi Njokuani punches Mario Sousa in a middleweight combat throughout Dana White’s Contender Sequence season 5 week two at UFC APEX on September 07, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Picture by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)
Weight class: Middleweight Consequence: Chidi Njokuani def. Mario Sousa by way of TKO (elbows) – spherical 3, 1:35 Grade: A+
Abstract: Maybe it’s as a result of Chidi Njokuani is outright over-qualified for the place, however the American-born Nigerian earns the ever-elusive A+ for demonstrating expertise in virtually each space regardless of struggling a number of fouls within the first spherical.
Njokuani, who’s primarily identified for his muay Thai putting, was additionally capable of showcase his improved grappling by reminding the plenty that he has a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt below Sergio Pena. Fortuitously for Njokuani, Sousa seemingly hasn’t improved his wrestling in any respect since his final exhibiting on the Contender Sequence, which allowed the American to safe topside on a number of events – even touchdown some candy ground-and-pound from a leg drag variation within the second spherical.
Like many good muay Thai strikers, Njokuani has no difficulty in terms of attacking the physique or kicking arms with impunity, because the 32-year-old was capable of damage Sousa just a few instances earlier than discovering a strong knee to activate the end within the ultimate body.
It’s bizarre to see extra skilled names pop up on a present that’s propped as much as be a springboard for younger fighters, however I’d a lot moderately see confirmed veterans get their pictures than speeding uncooked expertise to the primary stage (although a part of me fears these Contender Sequence contracts will nonetheless stay the identical, pay-wise).
I think we’ll see Njokuani earlier than 12 months’s finish provided that he operates out of the UFC’s yard of Las Vegas, as I wouldn’t thoughts seeing him matched up in an all-action affair with both Abdul Razak Alhassan or Brendan Allen.
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – SEPTEMBER 07: (L-R) Josh Quinlan punches Logan City in a welterweight combat throughout Dana White’s Contender Sequence season 5 week two at UFC APEX on September 07, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Picture by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)
Weight class: Welterweight Consequence: Josh Quinlan def. Logan City by way of knockout (punches) – spherical 3, 0:47 Grade: A
Abstract: Despite the fact that it was one other fast evening on the workplace for Josh Quinlan, I discovered it laborious to disclaim him an A grading for treating short-notice substitute, Logan City, accordingly.
Quinlan, who’s a fighter I’ve had my eye on since cornering in opposition to him on the regional scene, is a standout athlete who has proven some severe expertise within the blended martial arts recreation. From his fleet-footed stylings to the velocity and accuracy of his strikes, Quinlan may very well be an actual drive who produces enjoyable motion for years to come back.
Though we didn’t get to any of Quinlan’s floor recreation this outing, the Hawaiian-born fighter appears to have a strong base when working from topside, showing to be greater than competent in terms of floating positions and searching for strikes or submissions.
I’m undecided what Louis or Orion Cosce are as much as, however I imagine that both brother would make for a strong matchup with Quinlan for all events concerned given the motion and solutions that would come from these stylistic affairs.