August 7 wrapped up another great season of Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series. This season, 21 UFC contracts were awarded, two developmental contracts were given and one fighter was added to TUF 28.
The Brazilian season starts tonight and will feature many talented prospects. But it’s also not to early to take a look back at this past season and preview the 2019 Contender Series. MMA Today’s Shawn Bitter and Nolan King, FloCombat/Fightful reporter James Lynch, MMA Takeover/Fansided Co-Founder/reporter Keith Shillan and I share our thoughts on who is our favorite prospect to be awarded a contract, who we’d like to see get a second chance and who we’d like to see fight on the Contender Series next year.
James Lynch, Reporter for FloCombat, My MMA News and Fightful
Favorite Prospect to win a contract – Juan Adams, heavyweight
Not only did Juan Adams have an impressive performance in his first-round stoppage over Shawn Teed, but his post-fight speech was very entertaining and the exact type of personality the UFC heavyweight division needs. The 26-year-old who cuts from 300-pounds will be a nice addition to the UFC’s heavyweight division.
Prospect he’d like to see return – Alton Cunningham middleweight
The 25-year-old has a ton of potential and was given a tough draw on Contender Series facing Bevon Lewis. With a few improvements I believe he has all the tools to come back stronger next season and earn a UFC contract.
Fighter he’d like to see get a chance on 2019 Contender Series that wasn’t on the 2018 series -Adam Dyczka
Dyczka was slated to compete on Contender Series however his contract with TKO MMA prevented that from happening. The 27-year-old is 7-0-1 and has finished all of his opponents by TKO.
Nolan King, reporter for MMA Today
Favorite Prospect to win a contract – Te Edwards, lightweight
My favorite prospect from this season has to be Te Edwards. An ASU wrestler with six first round knockouts? Count me in.
Prospect he’d like to see return – Jalin Turner, lightweight
Personally, there are a lot of fighters I believe deserve a second shot in the Contender Series, but many will be signed in the meantime. I’d like to see Jalin Turner come back next season, because his foundations are so strong, but he needs more experience.
Fighter he’d like to see get a chance on 2019 Contender Series that wasn’t on the 2018 – Grant Dawson, featherweight
One fighter I’d like to see on it next season is Grant Dawson. What better way to redeem a UFC suspension/release than proving to the world you’re great regardless.
Shawn Bitter, reporter for MMA Today
Favorite Prospect to win a contract – Sodiq Yusuff, featherweight
Many to choose from but Yusuff has the explosiveness, boxing, wrestling, and cardio to make an impact it the UFC.
Prospect he’d like to see return – Chibwikem Onyenegecha, middleweight
His fight didn’t impress the fan base but at 24 he answered a lot of questions coming in showing solid cardio. He will be much better next year.
Fighter he’d like to see get a chance on 2019 Contender Series that wasn’t on the 2018 – Miles Johns, bantamweight
Another product out of the red-hot Fortis MMA, Johns is a great talent who fights for LFA.
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Keith Shillan, Co-founder of the MMA Takeover and reporter at Fansided
Favorite Prospect to win a contract – Antonina Shevchenko bantamweight
It is really hard to narrow down just one favorite contender this year. Te Edwards, Sodiq Yusuff, and Bevon Lewis are on my short list. However, if I must only pick one, I will take Antonina Shevchenko. She as good of a striker as I have seen for a female fighter. Her ground game is much better than people think. I think she could be as good as her sister Valentina Shevchenko is.
Prospect he’d like to see return – Mike Davis, featherweight
The one fighter I would like to see return next season is Mike Davis. His loss to Sodiq Yusuff was the Beast Boy’s only loss in professional MMA, amateur MMA, professional boxing, and amateur Muay Thai.
Fighter he’d like to see get a chance on 2019 Contender Series that wasn’t on the 2018 – Carlos Candelario, flyweight
There are so many prospects I would like to see on the next season, who wasn’t on this season. However, if I could only pick one I would pick Carlos Candelario. He is undefeated as a professional and was as an amateur. He won on the first season of DWTNCS and would likely been on the show in the second season if he didn’t hurt his leg. If he doesn’t count because he has already been on the show, give me UFC LFA welterweight champion, James Nakashima.
Douglas Geller, reporter for My MMA News and MMA Today
Favorite Prospect to win a contract – Ian Heinisch, middleweight
Ian Heinisch is the former interim LFA middleweight champion, his only loss coming to current UFC middleweight Markus Perez and has looked sensational in every other fight. He didn’t look perfect in his Contender Series fight, but he showed a wide range of skills that complement his strengths and I think that will allow him to move up the ranks.
Prospect I’d like to see return – Kevin Aguilar, featherweight
Aguilar is the current LFA featherweight champion and he took his Contender Series fight on short notice at lightweight and still won. I believe he deserves a shot in the UFC without another Contender Series fight, but if that doesn’t happen, I’d love to see him back on Contender Series.
Fighter I’d like to see get a chance on 2019 Contender Series that wasn’t on the 2018 – Richard LeRoy, lightweight
LeRoy is an undefeated fighter out of California, all of his seven wins have come by finish, including over Jalin Turner who won his fight on this year’s Contender Series. LeRoy currently has a title fight scheduled for August 25 for CXF.
Other fighters I considered for this spot were: Youseff Zalal, Justin Gonzales, Vince Cachero, Jake Heffernan.
Week 1 Contract Winners
Greg Hardy (Developmental Contract)
Week 2 Contract Winners
Week 3 Contract Winners
Josh Parisian (was placed on The Ultimate Fighter Season 28)
Week 4 Contract Winners
Week 5 Contract Winners
Week 6 Contract Winners
Chase Hooper (Developmental Contract)
Week 7 Contract Winners
Week 8 Contract Winners