Last night, Dana White’s Contender Series returned with ten UFC hopefuls looking to punch their ticket to the biggest show in combat sports. There’s always incredibly high expectations for the Contender Series and it always produces action-packed fights with fighters going all out for a contract.
Over the years, we’ve seen stars develop from the series like Sean O’Malley and light heavyweight champion Jamahal Hill. That said, we’ve also seen winners on the Contender Series not get signed and go on to do great things. Like 2022 PFL featherweight champion Brendan Loughnane.
Last night’s fights didn’t disappoint and there were certainly some standout performances. Dana White was in a good mood because he handed out a contract to every fighter who won last night on the Contender Series. With that, the UFC saw an addition of five new fighters.
The first fighter to get signed to a new contract is flyweight Kevin Borjas (9-1). Borjas was a massive underdog against Victor Dias (11-3), however, Borjas took the fight to Dias and showed what a dog he was inside the octagon. White gave him a contract for his efforts.
The second fight produced another decision as Payton Talbott (6-0) remained perfect by defeating Reyes Cortez (7-3) by unanimous decision. Talbott is just about to turn 25 years old and becomes a very intriguing young prospect for the bantamweight division.
Heavyweights took the stage next as Caio Machado (8-1-1) took on Kevin Szaflarski (11-1). Szaflarski had won 11 straight fights entering the cage last night, but Machado wasn’t going to be denied. He won a unanimous decision earning himself a UFC contract.
You read it right, three straight decisions to start the night. However, that changed with the next fight which produced a moment that made Dana White jump to his feet. Tom Nolan (6-0) stole the show last night when he flattened Bogdan Grad (11-2) with a huge left hook which you can see below.
Closing out the night was a middleweight fight between Cesar Almeida (4-0) and Lucas Fernando (9-2). Almeida was the one to watch as this was just his fourth professional MMA bout. Odd for a 35-year-old, but not odd considering he’s spent the majority of his combat sports career in kickboxing. In fact, he does own a victory over former UFC champ Alex Pereira.
Almeida won the decision and once again, White handed out a UFC contract. A fun night to kick the season off and it’s expected to be a very fun nine weeks and you’ll see some rising stars on the show this year.