The resume is essential in any job interview, and Contender Series is essentially a job interview for the UFC.
With the COVID-19 pandemic not even at its peak in the U.S., it is unknown whether the new season of DWCS will be delayed. Because many regional promotions were forced to cancel or reschedule their cards, UFC will have less fighters to choose from. Regardless, there is still plenty of talent to choose from who were able to compete before stay-at-home orders were put in place.
Here is a list of a few fighters that should earn an interview with the UFC this season on Dana White’s Contender Series after dominant performances in early 2020:
Julija Stoliarenko (Bantamweight)
Last Fight: Invicta FC Phoenix Series 3, 3/6, Split Decision
Stoliarenko just won, what was probably, the fight of the year over at Invicta FC. She is also a former competitor in TUF 28. She has been on UFC’s radar, and has shown improvements since her days in TUF. She always has the threat of the armbar, but now she has an improved stand-up game. She takes a lot of damage, but she dishes out more.
If she doesn’t get the call straight to the main roster, then let’s add her to Season 4 of Contender Series — the fight will definitely be exciting.
Rafa Garcia (Lightweight)
Last Fight: Combat 55 Mexicali, 2/21, Unanimous Decision
Garcia has won his last 2 fights by decision, but that is not his typical track record. The undefeated fighter has a fancy for finishes, with 7 wins by submission on his resume. He does not discriminate either, he will take an arm home with him or leave his opponent asleep on the canvas.
Garcia is dangerous, and has fared well against some experienced opponents. He definitely deserves his shot at a UFC contract, there’s only so long you can defend your belt on the regional scene.
Anthony Romero (Lightweight)
Last Fight: OCL 7, 3/7, first-round TKO
Romero lost one fight as an amateur, and since has been on a 15-fight win streak while going 7-0 as a professional. Romero has shown the ability to control the fight and win the decision, but as of late he is finding the finishing touch. With KO/TKO finishes in 2 of his last 3 fights, he making statements with each win.
Let’s get him on Contender Series to show that there are plenty of prospects coming out of Canada that are ready for the big leagues.
Kenny Cross (Lightweight)
Last Fight: Lights Out Championship 7, 2/8, first-round TKO
Cross is on a 4-fight win streak, all wins coming by KO/TKO. His last loss, came at the hands of Korey Kuppe. With a record of 10-3, he has the experience and the time in the cage to prepare him for the UFC. He’s also a future star — he doesn’t mind giving verbal jabs, rocking leopard print fight shorts, and dressing up the part during fight week.
Mason Jones (Lightweight)
Last Fight: Cage Warriors 113, 3/20, first-round TKO
The COVID-19 pandemic shut down most regional shows, however, one of those exceptions was Cage Warriors 113. During fight week, the card started to look drastically different, including making Jones’ fight for the vacant lightweight championship. Jones’ record shows balance with 3 wins by TKO/KO, submission, and decision.
Now the 155-pound title holder, Mason’s stock is higher than ever. And he’s shown he can not only go the distance, but also finish the night early if he so pleases.
Erin Blanchfield (Flyweight)
Last Fight: Invicta FC 39, 2/7, second-round TKO
Blanchfield is only 20, and she likes to finish fights. Her only loss came via split decision, but she hasn’t had trouble with going the distance in fights. She is also a flyweight, a division in the UFC that is looking for some depth and new prospects. She is know for her ground game, but a head kick KO in her last fight is an example of how dangerous she is on the feet as well.
John Gotti III (Welterweight)
Last Fight: CES 60, 1/24, Unanimous Decision
Gotti is undefeated as a pro at 5-0. His only loss came as an amateur, and since he has rattled off 9 wins in a row. His most recent fight was the first to make it out of the first round, but he showed the ability to go the distance. Gotti has the star power needed for Season 4 of Contender Series, and he’s definitely a finisher — with 4 of his 5 never leaving the first round.
Jasmine Jasudavicius (Strawweight)
Last Fight: CFFC 81, 2/1, first-round TKO
Jas is undefeated (8-0) and is currently 4-0 as a professional. She bullies her opponents in the cage, and has the ability to finish fights standing or on the mat. Her range and strength is hard for her opponents to match, and she is undoubtedly of the most exciting female talents to watch on the regional scene.
If Contender Series is all about finishers, look no further than Jasmine Jasudavicius.
Korey Kuppe (Welterweight)
Last Fight: LFA 82, 2/21, second-round TKO
Kuppe is 8-3 as a pro, and has proven to be a submission savant. 7 of his professional wins have come in some sort of submission. He has incredible height for a welterweight at 6’5″ and has massive star potential. His swagger is likely on point on his way to whoop some as*, so why not get him on Contender Series where he’s destined to shine? This one is a no brainer.
Olivia Parker (Featherweight)
Last Fight: Valor Fighting Challenge 68, 1/10, first-round Submission
Parker may be 38 years old, but she’s in phenomenal shape and UFC is in need of 145ers for their roster. Especially ones not already signed to Bellator. Parker is strong and loves to find the finish, and she has also proven she can go the distance in her pro debut.
She’s also gone undefeated as an amateur as well, finishing all five opponents. Let’s give “Phoenix” a shot on Contender Series, which hopefully features multiple women’s featherweight fights.
Nick Maximov (Light Heavyweight)
Last Fight: KOTC Return to Order, 1/11, first-round TKO
Maximov is a name that has gone under the radar for far too long. A collegiate wrestler turned MMA fighter, Nick now trains in Stockton. He’s currently undefeated with a 4-0 record; when he’s not using his wrestling to secure the ground-and-pound, he’s making guys tap.
Going 6-0 as an amateur, Nick Maximov is a name you should keep an eye on. Otherwise, he’s going to come out of nowhere and surprise you because he’s the next big name at light heavyweight.
Benoit Saint-Denis (Welterweight)
Last Fight: Brave CF 34, 1/19
Saint-Denis is 5-0 with 1 no contest, and he has finished every win. The French prospect has a way with submissions in his young career. At age 24, he is off to a fast start in his young career. Let’s get some more international talent on Contender Series this year if possible.
Kyle DAUkaus (Middleweight)
Last Fight: CFFC 81, 2/1, second-round Submission
Say it with me, “D’Arce Choke.” He has 5 of them on his pro-record, and 8 submission wins as a pro overall. He has won his 2 fights after DWCS by… you guessed it, D’Arce Choke. Protect your neck… While he has an extensive amateur record, he is an undefeated 9-0 professional and seems to have found a rhythm. He has shown that even when people know what he is going to do, he is still going to get it done, and his opponent can only tap… or nap.
Mochamed Machaev (Lightweight)
Last Fight: Brave CF 34, 1/19, Unanimous Decision
Machaev lost his first fight as an amateur, turned pro after that fight, and has not lost since. He is an undefeated 8-0 as a professional, and has won in different ways. Machaev does have 5 finishes on his record, and seems to be a fan of the KO. At just 20 years old, Machaev is shaping out to be a problem and should get a shot on Season 4.
Jamey-Lyn Horth Wessels (Flyweight)
Last Fight: BFL 65, 2/8, third-round TKO
Jamey-Lyn is a finisher, and not only do we need more of them on Contender Series this upcoming season, we need them in the division. Period. This one is a no brainer, at 4-0 with all finishes on her resume, let’s give her a shot. She has shown she can choke you out or knock you out, you choose.
Don Shainis (Featherweight)
Last Fight: Cage Titans 47, 1/25, second-round TKO
With 4 finishes in a row, Shainis appears to have returned to form after only his second career loss. Shainis also had a fight in April that was cancelled due to the current COVID-19 crisis. DWCS would be a step up in competition, but he has been putting away his current competition. So why not give the New Englander a shot? We’re all for it.
Collin Anglin (7-1)
Last Fight: WXC 86, 1/29, second-round TKO
Anglin has KOed his last 4 opponents. He is showing that he is ready to take the next step up in competition. Already booked for May once COVID-19 (hopefully) clears up, Anglin looks to deliver the sealing to the envelope when he faces Mike Taylor at Lights Out Championship 8.
If he already isn’t on UFC’s radar, he will be after one more win. If the pandemic cancels his fight in May, then let’s give him a shot on DWCS.
Joe Giannetti (Lightweight)
Last Fight: Cage Titans 47, 1/25, first-round Submission
It does not seem all that long ago, Giannetti was the east coast hero on TUF 27. I thought he would win the season and get a contract, but this was not his fairy-tail ending. Giannetti had some rough patches, but seems to be back in the groove now. The submission savant should be on a short list to get a call to the UFC, he has the talent and is ready to make a splash.
If they aren’t going to sign him to the main roster, then let him prove his worth. He’s been vouching for it, and it’s about damn time.
Herbert Sousa (Bantamweight)
Last Fight: CFFC 81, 2/1, Unanimous Decision
Yes, the Brazilian fighter has a solid submission game. But Sousa has shown to be more than just that. He can go the distance if he needs to, and has a couple of KO victories on his resume. With a 15-1 professional record, against experienced competition, the only loss on Sousa’s record is by decision.
At the age of 26, he has not even entered his prime yet, Sousa should be getting a call soon.
Cody Brundage (Light Heavyweight)
Last Fight: Lights Out Championship 7, 2/8, first-round Submission
Brundage has fought the same guy back-to-back recently. The first, was a bloodbath that went to a decision. However, the second finished in the first round and saw Brundage earn a shiny gold belt around his waist. He can finish the fight early, and can go the distance. But one thing that is always certain, is a Cody Brundage fight is always exciting.
Word on the street is Cody will be getting a shot on Contender Series this season. Stay tuned, news may break in the coming weeks.
Casey O’Neill (STRAweight)
Last Fight: Eternal MMA 51, 2/29, Unanimous Decision
“King” is currently undefeated as a professional and although she only has one finish on her record, that doesn’t mean she can’t dominate you every round. At only 22 years old, Casey O’Neill is en route to doing big things in the MMA world.
Representing Scotland, Casey could make a debut on Contender Series this season. We sure hope that’s the case.