Contender Series has handed out a large number of contracts in its 3 seasons.
This season featured a name change, from Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series (DWTNCS) to a shortened version of Dana White’s Contender Series (DWCS).
31 total contracts were handed out in Season 3, with 1 of those being a developmental contract to William Knight, a New England native fighting at light heavyweight. Season 3 started off slow, with the first 2 weeks featuring many decision wins.
Dana expressed his displeasure with these results, and I guess it never hurts to ask, because the following week, 5 contracts were handed out for the first time in Contender Series history. Fans watched as their hometown fighter chased their dreams.
The action kept on rolling on the show, and fighters who did not earn a contract on the show ended up with fights in the UFC or in other big promotions like Bellator and PFL. The fighters from DWCS are often called “The Stars of Tomorrow”, and here is a list of fighters who won contracts that really made themselves stand out from the crowd.
Osbourne showcased his game at all levels in his fight on DWCS.
He has a solid striking game; does not have one-hit KO power per say, but enough power for fighters to respect him on the feet. He has good wrestling so that if he finds himself outmatched on the feet, he can change levels and take the fight to different areas. Oh, he has a sick submission game as well.
He finished the fight on DWCS in the first round with an armbar, and from a strange position while his opponent was carrying him. He has finished 4 fights in a row with 3 of them coming via submission. He is ready for the UFC, and will pose a threat in the UFC's bantamweight division, without a doubt.
Woodson is undefeated boasting a 6-0 record.
He does not look all that imposing with his somewhat goofy stature, until you realize he is 6'2" in the featherweight division and will be taller than almost everyone he faces. Even if he moves up to lightweight, that remains true.
Nicknamed "The Sniper" because he can land on his opponents from long range, he earned his contract with a flying knee finish. He already had his UFC debut scheduled for UFC Boston where he will face off against a hometown favorite in Kyle Bochniak.
Speaking of flying knee finishes... Crus lands a flying knee here at the end of the fight.
A walk off KO just before time expires. Leaving the judges out of it is 1 way to get the attention of the boss, and to ensure a contract. This one will be remembered for a long time, and Dana was very impressed with the result.
Cruz is 8-2 as a pro and has rattled off 4 wins in a row now. He is starting to find a rhythm now finishing fights, but he will need to show he can continue the trend when he steps up to the UFC.
Morales will likely be part of the new wave of fighters coming from Venezuela into the UFC.
The country loves kickboxing, and Morales showed off plenty of kickboxing skill. It will be interesting to see how he fairs on the ground against elite-level grapplers, but he will likely have the advantage on the feet in most of his fights.
He put way a tough opponent in DWCS, and looked very strong doing so. He is undefeated, and will look to ride that momentum into the UFC.
Morales is 33 years old, and so is Barrett. Dana has been a little more lenient with letting older fighters into the UFC.
Barrett and Morales may have benefited from that, but Barrett has the most personality, and the greatest comeback story. He is just exciting to watch and listen to. I may have a little bit of New England bias here, but he has KO power and is willing to out-tough fighters if he has to. He fought an undefeated opponent in DWCS, and found a way to win the fight against a guy who is very dangerous on the feet.
Barrett will be quick to earn many fans in the UFC once he makes his debut.
Crotez is a young contender in a newer flyweight division. The UFC 125 pound division is here and it needs a few new young contenders.
Look no further than Tracy. The division is a mixed bag of old guard veterans who had their shot at titles before, and young prospects trying to build momentum up to a title fight. Cortez is undefeated since her pro debut, which was her first and only loss as an amateur or professional. She has rattled off 6-wins in a row since then, and won her fight on DWCS in dominant (30-26) fashion.
She needs to work on finishing fights as she only has 2 on her record, but dominant wins, are still dominant.
Soriano goes by "Puna", and you have to be tough to say that confidently.
Puna fights with bad intentions, the end of the fight is never far when his hands are moving. Dana said, "This guy's a killer... If I don't take him, someone else will... I've gotta have him..." So, I don't need to say more, but I will.
He completely gassed out chasing the first-round finish, it was crazy he was able to finish the fight on DWCS. But he will have learned a big lesson in that fight. Better he learn it here than in the UFC against a real threat, but the middleweight division should be on notice.
Allen showed fans a lot in just a small amount of time. He put on a display of power, hurt his opponent bad early in the fight that led to the finish, but we will get to that.
He was aware of his opportunities and controlled the clinch, as evidence of the knee to the head from the clinch that hurt his opponent and put him on the mat. Allen took advantage of the opening and secured a guillotine, and I believe it was from top mount as well. Securing a top dominant position if his opponent were able to escape.
Regardless, the finish came from the submission, and a contract was earned. Allen also is slated to fight on the UFC Boston card against Eric Spicely.
Gravely is another fighter that just dominates his opponents.
He has plenty of finishes on his resume to show he has the capability to finish, and has beaten most of the competition on the regional scene. He now is riding a 7-fight win streak, all of which have been finishes. Gravely also has the ability to finish late as seen during his fight on DWCS where he finished the fight in round 3. He also did the same in a championship fight in CES where he finished a fight in round 4.
Do not let him get his hands on you, because he rarely lets go.
Yorgan De Castro
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Connor “Rags” Rogowsky is a co-owner of The Scrap and its current President. Rogowsky played football and track collegiately, and holds a Masters of Science in Psychology from Southern New Hampshire University. Make sure to follow Rags on Twitter (@rogowskyc).