We are now into week 6 of Dana White’s Contender Series and four more fighters have earned contracts after impressive performances.
The first fight was at middleweight and the fighter to make it into the UFC was Aliaskhab Khizriev (13-0) after submitting Henrique Shiguemoto (13-4-1) in the very first round. Both fighters came out aggressive however Khizriev managed to secure a takedown and work his way to the back to secure a rear naked choke for the tap. At 13-0 Khizriev looks like a promising addition to the UFC’s middleweight division and fans will be on the lookout for his debut!
The second fight was at Bantamweight as Drako Rodriguez (7-1) came up against Mana Martinez (6-2). Again both fighters came out aggressive which is an ongoing theme for the contender series, both fighters traded punches however Rodriguez pushed for the takedown and got Martinez to his back. Martinez worked well from his back attempting submissions but Rodriguez eventually locked in a triangle choke and after refusing to tap Martinez went to sleep giving Rodriguez the first round submission win and also the contract with the UFC.
Another Middleweight bout was set for the third fight of the evening as Phil Hawes (8-2) takes on Khadzi Bestaev (10-4). This wasn’t Hawes first rodeo as he had fought previously on the Contender Series in 2017 when he lost via a head kick to the now UFC regular Julian Marquez and had been invited back after picking up three wins in a row. It took only one minute and 18 seconds for Hawes to win his second fight on the Contender Series with an overhand right that dropped Bestaev and finished him on the ground with punches. A no-brainer for Dana White to award Hawes with a UFC contract as he came back and won his fight in impressive fashion.
Fourth fight was in the Lightweight division as Sherrard Blackledge (5-0) was up against Cameron Church (4-1). During the first round Church was the aggressor throwing power punches at every turn whilst Blackledge was more fluid with his punches, second round was more of the same as both men traded punches with Church again looking for the knockout punch and Blackledge picking him of from the outside and eventually scoring a couple of take-downs. Third and final round Blackledge went for the takedown from the get go and controls Church for the entire round to score a unanimous decision victory. Dana didn’t decide to give Blackledge a contract as he was disappointed with him not trying to finish and playing it safe in the third round, he did however invite him back to fight in the contender series again in November.
The Main Event and final fight of the evening was a light heavyweight bout between Tafon Nchukwi (4-0) and Al Matavao (8-3). The first round saw Nchukwi being patient with his strikes and trying to make them all count as he was clearly the more powerful striker as Matavao was trading aswell trying to finds openings of his own. Second round starts and and Nchukwi opens up a cut over the eye of Matavao, as he keeps trying to evade to power punches Matavao drops his guard at wrong moment and Nchukwi catches him with a left high kick to the temple that knocks him out cold. The highlight of the night which guaranteed that Nchukwi would be walking away with a contract after his knockout victory. Dana awarded him with a contract claiming that he would normally give Nchukwi a development contract as he is only 4-0 but said that he scares the hell out of him so awarded him with a contract straight into the UFC. His debut will be highly anticipated!
FULL RESULTS BELOW:
Tafon Nchukwi def. Al Matavao via knockout (high kick) – RD 2, 2:01
Sherrard Blackledge def. Cameron Church via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
Phil Hawes def. Khadzhi Bestaev via TKO (punches) – RD 1, 1:18
Drako Rodriguez def. Mana Martinez via technical submission (triangle choke) – RD 1, 2:22
Aliaskhab Khizriev def. Henrique Shiguemoto via submission (rear-naked choke) – RD 1, 0:50