Dana White’s Contender Series: Ranking the top contract winners of season two
Dana White is always looking for young prospects and talented fighters that have a real desire to be in the UFC and love to fight.
White used to go all around to watch fighters at their local promotions to scout talent and hand out contracts. What Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series did, was provide the opportunity for fighters to come to Las Vegas and show off for Dana instead of him having to travel all over to see them.
It appears to be a success thus far, with so much talent coming down the pipeline who are putting on exciting fights for a chance at earning a UFC contract. Many nights handed out multiple contracts, with the show being a machine that turns out finish after finish. Since the show, we’ve seen many talent proving their worth in the UFC, showcasing why they belong in the big leagues.
Read below to find out who ranks at the top of the contract earners list.
The top 15 fighters from DWTNCS (USA & Brazil)
Dana White handed out a large number of contracts in season two. With many talented fighters coming into the UFC through the show, it's clear it has turned into a hub of discovering up-and-coming fighters as they hope to earn contracts to compete at the pinnacle of the sport of MMA. With five fights each Tuesday night for the entirety of the season, many nights saw four contracts handed out. There's a large finish rate on the show, making it hard for White to make decisions. The following ranks the top 15 fighters to come out of DWTNCS.
#15: Anthony Hernandez (Middleweight)
Fluffy will make his debut at UFC Brazil in February against Markus Perez. Fighting for his father since his passing, fighting means a lot to him. He has a passion, and a lot of talent. “Fluffy” made this promise to his father on his death bed, he would make it to the UFC and here he is.
#14: Marina Rodriguez (Strawweight)
Rodriguez punched her opponent on DWTNCS to the point where she gave up in the first round of their fight on the Brazil edition. I have never seen someone walk away, without being wobbled, or injured, and call the fight off. Rodriguez’s UFC debut ended in a draw vs Randa Markos where she showed off her striking, and her need to develop her ground game some more. A couple more fights, she will be a problem.
#13: Greg Hardy (Heavyweight)
Hardy signed to developmental contract after his first fight on DWTNCS, and fought on the show twice in season 2. Both fights were over quick, he throws punches with intentions of ending the night early. Hardy will make his debut in January at UFC Brooklyn as the co-main event; the UFC has big plans for Hardy.
#12: Edmen Shahbazyan (Middleweight)
Shahbazyan won his debut in November via decision against Darren Stewart. The Ronda Rousey product had a strong showing, but he does needs some work, especially on the ground. He will make the improvements as he matures and gains experience. This may be the new Sage Northcutt.
#11: Juan Adams (Heavyweight)
Adams is a very big man, he won his debut in December with a TKO in round 3 vs Chris De La Rocha. Adams has a lot of strength, and strong wrestling to pair with that. He has the ability to go late into fights also shown by his round 3 finish. Adams is definitely one to watch in this division.
#10: Johnny Walker (Light Heavyweight)
Walker had a strong showing in his Brazil DWTNCS fight, and then beat Khalil Roundtree in November in his UFC debut. Walker is scheduled to fight again at UFC Brazil in February. He is young, talented, and a showman. This guy could be a star in the making, but there has been little seen because his fights do not last too long.
#9 Jim Crute (Light Heavyweight)
Crute won a grinder of a fight in his UFC debut. He dominated at the end and submitted a dangerous guy on the ground in Paul Craig. Crute had the clear advantage with power on the feet that Craig wanted nothing to do with. Eventually Crute hurt Craig enough times to chase the finish on the ground, and ended up submitting a fighter known for their ground game. Crute is one to watch at 205-pounds.
#8: Bobby Moffett (Featherweight)
Moffett won his debut via submission in round 2 vs Chas Skelly. He was losing the output battle in striking but did very well on the ground to find the finish. Moffett will be a force on the ground for some time to come, if he sharpens up his striking a little, he could cause problems in his division.
#7: Augusto Sakai (Heavyweight)
Sakai has great cardio for a big man. He recently won his debut fight in the UFC vs Chase Sherman. It was a one-sided TKO that happened in round 3. Sakai has power to end the night as is the case with most heavyweights, however he has shown how he can keep the pressure up as the fight wears on.
#6: Montel Jackson (Bantamweight)
Jackson lost debut in a decision back in August and won dominantly in bounce back in December via submission. Jackson lost his first fight in what seemed like a stage he was not ready for, as was the case for a few of the DWTNCS fighters. He won his second fight in a big way via submission early in the first round, however he missed weight. This is the reason he is out of the top-5 here.
#5: Maycee Barber (Strawweight)
Barber won her debut at the UFC Denver 25-year anniversary. Maycee is a serious force to reckon with. She is a prodigy, and has been training MMA for the majority of her life. She has risen to the occasion so far, and looks the part of a contender in the near future. I hope the rise does not happen too fast for her, however I believe she is ready to show how great she can be in her quest to beat Jon Jones' record.
#4: Roosevelt Roberts (Lightweight)
Roberts won his UFC debut via submission in November vs Darrel Horcher. Roberts is versatile and dangerous from all over. He has fast hands and solid boxing, he does not look to take the fight to the ground, but he is definitely not afraid to take the fight there. His submission won him performance of the night honors.
#3: Devonte Smith (Lightweight)
In Smith's UFC debut, he was able to win by TKO in under one minute against Julian Erosa. Do not blink when he is fighting, his hands are fast and they land heavy. We do not know how his ground game is, but no one has lasted long enough to try and get him there. Smith will be a problem at lightweight without a doubt.
#2: Sodiq Yusuff (Lightweight)
Yusuff won his UFC debut with first round TKO vs Suman Mokhtarian and won performance of the night. Yusuff looks big and strong in this division. He actually was one of the few fighters to have their fight go to decision on DWTNCS and still be awarded a contract. He has the stamina to go the distance, the power to end fights, and a ground game that is unknown currently. Watch out for this guy.
#1: Bevon Lewis (Middleweight)
I know this is interesting to rank Lewis as the number one fighter coming out of DWTNCS season 2, as he actually lost in his debut vs Uriah Hall. The stats, and the eye test show that Lewis was dominating that fight in his debut, vs a top-15 ranked fighter in the division. For almost the entirety of the fight, Lewis out-landed and out-paced Hall and never looked like he was in any danger. The problem with facing a guy like Uriah Hall is that you only have to eat one punch, and it came in round 3 where Lewis was starting to lose a little steam. This guy will be a problem, though. Watch him bounce back.
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