3 wannabe fighters impressed Dana White so much he gave them all UFC contracts

·7 min read
Dana White's Contender Series.
Dana White's Contender Series.Photo by Getty Images
  • Dana White's Contender Series returned Tuesday for another episode.

  • Three athletes impressed White enough to win full-time UFC contracts.

  • Bo Nickal, one of the greatest prospects in MMA, stole the show — but did not win an instant deal.

This is Dana White's Contender Series — an MMA promotion that is separate from the UFC, but is designed to funnel talent into the market-leading fight firm.

Dana White's Contender Series at the Apex.
Dana White's Contender Series at the Apex.Photo by Getty Images

The Contender Series airs weekly every Tuesday and features regionally-known and/or novice athletes who are all looking to impress Dana White.

The UFC boss has an Octagonside seat at every show and hands out contracts to fighters who impress him the most.

Winning, oftentimes, is not enough to impress White.

After all, he only handed out one UFC deal on the opening night of the current season two weeks ago, after giving a passionate speech about wannabe fighters not trying hard enough when they have a golden opportunity to change their careers — and their lives — by competing in front of him.

White's speech slamming the opening-night performances from season six appeared to work, as he rewarded every successful fighter in the second episode last week with a deal.

10 fighters competed in five separate bouts on August 9.

Karolina Wojcik, Contender Series fighter.
Karolina Wojcik, Contender Series fighter.Photo by Getty Images

Here's the full schedule from Tuesday's show at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas:

  1. Karolina Wojcik vs. Sandra Lavado — women's strawweight

  2. Clayton Carpenter vs. Edgar Chairez — flyweight

  3. Anvar Boynazarov vs. Erik Silva — featherweight

  4. Jamal Pogues vs. Paulo Renato Jr. — heavyweight

  5. Bo Nickal vs. Zachary Borrego — middleweight

Karolina Wojcik and Sandra Lavado fought first, after generating headlines for their tempestuous face-off Monday.

Karolina Wojcik vs. Sandra Lavado.
Karolina Wojcik vs. Sandra Lavado.Photo by Getty Images

All eyes were on Karolina Wojcik and Sandra Lavado, as the female strawweights introduced the action from the Apex, live on ESPN+, after generating attention for the way they faced-off earlier this week.

At the weigh-in event at the Station Casino in Las Vegas, the fighters had to be separated by security after butting heads like rams.

When they were fighting for real, the bout lasted the three-round distance — with Wojcik getting her hand raised as the winner.

Victory advanced Karolina Wojcik's record to nine wins (two knockouts and seven decisions) against two losses.

Karolina Wojcik won her match.
Karolina Wojcik won her match.Photo by Getty Images

Karolina Wojcik's dominance was reflected in the result as the judges rewarded her with a wide unanimous decision win (30-27).

But whether or not it was enough to earn her a UFC deal remained to be seen, as all contestants have to wait until the end of the show for White's assessment.

Flyweight bangers Clayton Carpenter and Edgar Chairez were next on the mat.

Edgar Chairez walks into the Octagon.
Edgar Chairez walks into the Octagon.Photo by Getty Images

With Clayton Carpenter, unbeaten in five fights, performing well in Legacy Fighting Alliance, and Edgar Chairez building name value with Combate, much was expected from the flyweight fighters.

And, good Lord, did they surpass the highest of expectations.

Carpenter and Chairez traded heavy shots from the opening bell with such savagery that it made the bulk of the intimate Apex audience sit up and take notice.

This strike was in the opening round:

As was this exchange:

Edgar Chairez landed a flying knee against Clayton Carpenter.

Edgar Chairez lands a flying knee against Clayton Carpenter.
Edgar Chairez lands a flying knee against Clayton Carpenter.Photo by Getty Images

Carpenter weathered the storm and earned a tough but strong decision win.

Clayton Carpenter celebrates his win.
Clayton Carpenter celebrates his win.Photo by Getty Images

The heavy strikes didn't stop coming but Carpenter did enough in the end to take home the win.

The judges gave Carpenter the nod with three identical scores of 29-28.

After his win, Carpenter said: "I was born for this division and I'm coming for everyone."

In the third fight of the night, Anvar Boynazarov fought Erik Silva.

Anvar Boynazarov fought Erik Silva at the Contender Series.
Anvar Boynazarov fought Erik Silva at the Contender Series.Photo by Getty Images

Clayton Carpenter likely earned the episode's first UFC deal for his bruising win over Edgar Chairez in the second match of the evening.

And so Erik Silva likely stole a lot of Carpenter's thunder when he took Anvar Boynazarov to the floor early and hammered him with punches until the referee intervened to provide the South American fighter with a 92-second finish.

Erik Silva's ground-and-pound was brutal …

Erik Silva's ground-and-pound was brutal.
Erik Silva's ground-and-pound was brutal.Photo by Getty Images

… so brutal that the referee swiftly stepped in to award him with the stoppage.

Erik Silva beat Anvar Boynazarov.
Erik Silva beat Anvar Boynazarov.Photo by Getty Images

Watch the fight-winning ground-and-pound right here:

Referee Mike Beltran raised Erik Silva's hand as the fight's winner.

Referee Mike Beltran raises Erik Silva's hand as the winner.
Referee Mike Beltran raises Erik Silva's hand as the winner.Photo by Getty Images

Victory advanced Silva's pro MMA record to nine wins (three knockouts, four submissions, and two decisions) against one defeat.

In the penultimate bout of the evening, heavyweight pair Jamal Pogues and Paulo Renato Jr. took center stage.

Jamal Pogues and Paulo Renator Jr.
Jamal Pogues and Paulo Renato Jr.Photo by Getty Images

Pogues clobbered Renato Jr. through three rounds, changed gears in the final round, and returned scores of 30-27, 29-28, 29-28 to win by unanimous decision.

Jamal Pogues won the fourth fight of the night at Dana White's Contender Series.

Jamal Pogues beat Paulo Renato Jr. on Tuesday.
Jamal Pogues beat Paulo Renato Jr. on Tuesday.Photo by Getty Images

Victory advanced his pro MMA record to nine wins (four knockouts, one submission, and four decisions) against three losses.

Top talent Bo Nickal topped the night with a middleweight fight against Zachary Borrego.

Bo Nickal, MMA fighter on the Contender Series.
Bo Nickal, MMA fighter on the Contender Series.Photo by Getty Images

A wildly decorated collegiate wrestler, 26-year-old American fighter Bo Nickal arrived at the Contender Series to great acclaim as, potentially, one of MMA's best prospects.

In contrast, during the build-up to the bout, Zachary Borrego had been described, simply, as Nickal's "opponent."

Indeed, the stage was set for Nickal to impress those at the Apex, those watching at home on ESPN+, but, above all, to impress White.

Impress may well be what Nickal does best.

Bo Nickal, potential MMA star.
Bo Nickal, potential MMA star.Photo by Getty Images

Bo Nickal grabbed Zachary Borrego early, tried to front choke him at the start of the bout, but eventually worked the rear-naked submission to end the fight in little more than a minute.

It was a remarkably dominant display from one of the biggest blue-chip prospects in combat sports, prompting Dana White to tell Insider and other reporters that he looked "fucking incredible."

 

However, it was not enough to earn Nickal an outright contract with the UFC.

White remarked that the athlete was only 1-0 heading into the Contender Series and that he'd like to see him compete one more time this season to be sure of his decision. White even referenced Brock Lesnar as the only, or one of the only, 1-0 fighters he signed.

Should Nickal win a second Contender Series bout then White said he'd progress into the UFC.

Dana White announced three athletes had earned UFC deals.

Dana White's Contender Series.
Dana White's Contender Series.Photo by Getty Images

White said Karolina Wojcik is skilled but needs work and that he wouldn't be handing her a UFC contract.

Clayton Carpenter, Erik Silva, and Jamal Pogues had all done enough to win White over, though.

Arguably the biggest shock of the night, however, was White wanting to see Nickal one more time in the Contender Series before promoting him into the UFC.

Dana White's Contender Series returns Tuesday, August 16 with a five-bout card.

As there are 10 episodes in total, the sixth season will come to a close September 27.

Read the original article on Insider