UFC Ultimate Fighter gym

LAS VEGAS, NV - APRIL 21: UFC President Dana White heads into the gym to watch Hector Aldana face Enrique Marin in the semi-finals during the filming of The Ultimate Fighter Latin America: Team Gastelum vs Team Escudero on April 21, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Brandon Magnus/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

Dana White’s Contender Series 18: Miguel Baeza, Miles Johns earn UFC contracts

Following a season premiere that had MMA fans and media taking part in a seemingly week long discussion, Dana White’s Contender Series continues on with it’s third season in Las Vegas.

The weekly summer series takes place at the brand new UFC Apex as Dana White, along with organizational matchmakers Sean Shelby and Mick Maynard, scout out the sport’s best regional talent for the chance to earn a contract with the UFC. Last week, heavyweight Yorgan De Castro and middleweight Puna Soriano were victorious in their respective contests and punched their tickets to the UFC.

Dana White’s Contender Series returned with a full, five-fight card which was headlined by a light heavyweight bout between Alton Cunningham and Tony Johnson. Despite Cunningham controlling Johnson against the fence for the majority of the fight, Johnson was given the unanimous decision victory.

While there were impressive performances throughout the night, none of the fighters were able to get a finish. At the end of the festivities, UFC president Dana White joined Laura Sanko to announce his decision. In the end, White awarded Miguel Baeza and Miles Johns UFC contracts.

Follow along with MyMMANews.com for round-by-round results of DWCS 18.

Miguel Baeza vs. Victor Reyna

ROUND 1

Things got interesting right off the bat on fight week as Reyna was seven pounds over during Monday’s weigh-in. Baeza didn’t want to let the opportunity at the UFC pass, so he agreed to move forward with the bout. Referee Jason Herzog gets them going as they touch gloves. Reyna lands the first strike of the fight, a leg kick. Both fighters using footwork, circling around the cage. Reyna lands another low kick, but eats a Baeza high kick for his troubles. Reyna lands a short right hook as the feeling out process continues. Baeza lands a right hand. Reyna throws a left, but a huge overhand right by Baeza drops his opponent. A flurry of punches on top from Baeza, but Reyna is able to shake off the cobwebs. Reyna tries to get to his feet, but eats a right hand and gets his back taken. Baeza looking for the rear naked choke with under two minutes to go. Reyna is able to keep it above the chin and defends it nicely. Baeza hangs on to the back as Reyna gets to his feet. Reyna ends up in a clinch against the cage with under a minute to go. Both men trade position against the fence. They separate and Reyna lands a combination as the horn sounds.

MyMMANews.com scores it 10-9 for Baeza

ROUND 2

Baeza looks for a high kick and Reyna catches it, putting Baeza on his back. Baeza is able to gain control of the body, taking Reyna down briefly. The scramble against the cage continues before they separate with a minute gone in the round. Body kicks land from both fighters. Left jab lands from Baeza, which is answered by a combination by Reyna. Halfway through the round as Reyna lands an inside leg kick. Baeza lands a body kick right back as they are begin slugging away for a series. Right hand lands by Reyna. They trade punches with Baeza getting the most from that exchange. Another combination from the Miami native Baeza with under a minute to go. Baeza clinches up and lands a huge knee on Reyna which drops him. A knew to the body by Baeza lands and Reyna is down again! The horn saves Reyna who is hurt badly.

MyMMANews.com scores it 10-9 for Baeza

ROUND 3

As Reyna’s coach said in the corner, he is down two rounds heading into the final five minutes. Reyna lands a huge right hand, and then a left as well. Reyna is swinging with bad intentions as he lands another big right hand. Baeza eats a clean jab from Reyna as the momentum of this fight has certainly shifted in the first minute of the third round. Baeza lands a short left, but eats a big Reyna right and it looks to have stunned him for a moment. Blood coming from the most of Baeza, who lands a nice left hand. Reyna with a snapping body kick. Baeza answers with a nice combination of punches. Halfway through the round sees the welterweights clinching against the fence. Reyna lands a short elbow on the break as they trade punches in the center of the cage. Right hand over the top lands by Reyna as they battle for position against the fence. Reyna looks for a takedown as we approach the final minute of the contest. Baeza ends up getting top position and looking to lock in an anaconda choke. Reyna is able to escape and is on top looking to land some elbows. Baeza tries to push him off and Reyna lands another big shot. Baeza looking to lock in a triangle choke with under 10 seconds left as the horn sounds. Dana White stands and applauds with approval.

MyMMANews.com scores the round 10-9 for Reyna and the fight 29-28 for Baeza

Official result: Miguel Baeza def. Victor Reyna via unanimous decision (29-28 x3)

Miles Johns vs. Richie Santiago

ROUND 1

The LFA bantamweight champion Miles Johns and Richie Santiago go at it in a bantamweight matchup. Johns goes right after Santiago landing a combination and pushing him against the cage. Santiago is able to create separation and land a left hand. Johns gets accidentally poked in the eye as the action briefly stops. The action continues with Johns landing a beautiful combination. Looping right hook lands from Johns. Santiago lands a body kick. Johns with a nicely timed left hand and is just a step ahead of the CES veteran. Big takedown lands from Johns who looks to work with a little over half the round left. Santiago trying to get to his feet and does. Johns has him controlled up against the cage as blood trickles down the nose of Santiago. Johns lands another clean shot as Santiago shoots him a smile. Johns looks for a takedown, Santiago sweeps, but isn’t able to maintain position. Johns ends the round on top.

MyMMANews.com scores it 10-9 for Johns

ROUND 2

Santiago lands a body kick right away. Johns lands a big right hand behind it. Combination lands by Johns and he drops his opponent. Santiago gets back to his feet and smiles as Johns takes a big, deep breath. Johns gets him back to the mat and looks to choke Santiago — who then reverses the position. Johns is able to get back on top as this has been a wild half of a round. Santiago lands a pair of elbows on the bottom and looks for a triangle. Johns gets to side control and has maintained a good pace in the second half of the round. Santiago is doing a nice job from bottom to avoid any major damage. Johns pins an arm down and lands a flurry of short punches as the horn sounds.

MyMMANews.com scores it 10-9 for Johns

ROUND 3

Johns lands three or four combinations in a row to start the round and then a monster right hand. Santiago is hurt, but not completely out of it. Santiago is able to take the back of Johns for a moment. Johns gets to his feet and pushes Santiago against the fence. Despite the shouts from his coach to throw strikes, Johns is going for the takedown. Santiago separates and lands a left hand. Johns throws a big uppercut and Santiago just misses a spinning back fist. Johns takes Santiago down, it gets reversed and Santiago looks to take the back. Santiago throwing punches to the body as the referee stands them up. Both men are tired as they are both winging punches. Santiago trying to get Johns to the mat. Johns ends up on top and looks to work. They get back to the feet momentarily as Johns gets him back down in side control. Short punches land from Johns and that’s it. Fun fight!

MyMMANews.com scores the round 10-9 and the fight 30-27 for Johns

Official result: Miles Johns def. Richie Santiago via unanimous decision (30-27 x2, 30-26)

Michael Lombardo vs. Kyle Daukaus

Full disclosure, my ESPN+ stream crapped out from about 15 seconds into the first round, until the beginning of the third round.

For the third round anyways, Daukaus gets the fight to the ground and looks for an arm triangle. Lombardo is able to defend but Daukaus is able to get the full mount and lands big shots. A big elbow lands as Lombardo gives up his back. Daukaus gets back to full mount and transitions to the back to lock in a choke. Lombardo survives, but is eating a ton of shots. Daukaus remains fully in control with under a minute to go. Daukaus lands a few more shots before locking in the body triangle. Daukaus looking for a rear naked choke and it is locked in with 10 seconds to go. Lombardo is not tapping and survives to the final horn.

Official result: Kyle Daukaus def. Michael Lombardo via unanimous decision (30-25, 30-26, 29-27)

Zach Zane vs. Justin Gonzales

ROUND 1

Zane was very emotional as he made his way to the cage and takes a few extra seconds to talk to his gloves and mentally focus. The fight is underway as Zane lands a leg kick, but Gonzales lads a huge punch dropping his opponent. They clinch up against the cage before Gonzales takes Zane to the mat. Gonzales lands a right hand before Zane gets back to this feet. Gonzales has a right under hook as he attempts to get it back down. Zane throws a spinning elbow as Gonzales takes his back. Body lock from the side against the cage from Gonzales as he works for another takedown. With 90 seconds left, he succeeds. Zane gets right back to his feet but Gonzales has his opponent fully controlled. Knees to the legs from Gonzales as the body control continues throughout the rest of the round, until he lands a huge right hand as the horn sounds.

MyMMANews.com scores it 10-9 for Gonzales

ROUND 2

Second round starts with Gonzales catching a kick and getting the fight to the ground. Zane just has not had an answer for the grappling. The control continues for another minute and a half before Zane is able to get things separated for a moment. Gonzales gets the fight right back to the mat. It has been a suffocating pace from Gonzales as he looks to finish the fight with a rear naked choke. Zane is able to defend as Gonzales rains down punches to end the round.

MyMMANews.com scores it 10-9 for Gonzales

ROUND 3

The dominance continues for Gonzales as he has Zane completely frustrated here. Zane just can’t get any space to breathe as the relentless pressure continued for the first three minutes of the round. Gonzales starts to let his hands go, having landed 11 of 14 takedowns to this point. Knee lands by Gonzales, answered by Zane. Finally some separation as both men trade shots. Gonzales lands his 12th takedown of the fight as there’s under 30 seconds to go. Gonzales takes the back and lands a few shots. Zane gets up but Gonzales lands a flurry of punches as the horn sounds.

MyMMANews.com scores the round 10-9 and the fight 30-27 for Justin Gonzales

Official result: Justin Gonzales def. Zach Zane via unanimous decision (30-26 x3)

Alton Cunningham vs. Tony Johnson

ROUND 1

Cunningham returns to the Contender Series cage after falling short in his first attempt at a UFC contract last season as he takes on the AKA trained Johnson, who has a 10-1 pro boxing record to go with a 7-2 pro MMA record. Johnson was booked to compete on the show on a prior season, but was forced out of the bout with an injury. Jason Herzog gets the fighters ready and off we go. They trade big shots, Johnson lands a big right hand and a flying knee. Another knee lands from Johnson followed by ab body kick. Cunningham ducks under a punch and shoots a double leg. They clinch against the cage as Cunningham changes levels for a moment. Johnson trying to separate, landing a right hand on the brief break. Cunningham smothers Johnson against the fence and lands a short right hand on the break. Back against the cage they go as the pace has slowed down a bit. They separate as Cunningham lands a combination. Johnson answers with a big right hand of his own. Under 90 seconds left in the round as Johnson looks to shake Cunningham loose from the clinch. Cunningham takes him down and throws a nice knee as Johnson stands back up. Cunningham gets it back to the ground but Johnson gets right back up again. They continue to battle against the cage as the horn sounds.

MyMMANews.com scores it 10-9 for Cunningham

ROUND 2

Cunningham’s right eye is badly swollen. The doctor clears him to continue as the second round is underway. Cunningham goes right back to the clinch against the fence. Johnson showing great takedown defense throughout this tough battle. They separate and trade big punches before going back to clinch work. The referee separates the fighters and Cunningham goes right back to the cage work. Herzog taking a close look and may separate again. Cunningham lands a right hand and goes right back to work against the fence. Cunningham drops to a single and can’t complete the takedown. Under two minutes remain as Cunningham continues the smothering pace. Right elbow lands from Johnson on the head of Cunningham, who lands a takedown — Johnson gets right back up again. Under a minute to go as Johnson lands some dirty boxing. Cunningham lands some punches before the horn sounds.

MyMMANews.com scores it 10-9 for Cunningham

ROUND 3

Cunningham goes right back to the clinch work to start the final round. Johnson is throwing punches and uppercuts to try to gain some sort of separation. Cunningham lands a takedown and lands a few punches before Johnson gets right back up. Cunningham gets another takedown, this time it’s totally completed. Cunningham trying to posture up as Johnson is trying his best to avoid any significant damage. Cunningham starts to land some punches and Johnson is able to get back up. Relentless pace maintained by the 26-year-old Cunningham with a little over two minutes remaining. Cunningham changes levels but Johnson is able to land some punches to keep the fight standing. 10 for 13 on takedowns for Cunningham with about a minute to go. Herzog separates the fighters as they begin trading. Cunningham goes back to what has been working all fight, clinch work against the fence. Johnson lands a right hand, but is unable to shake Cunningham, who lands a massive flying knee. They trade punches until the final horn sounds. All decisions tonight.

MyMMANews.com scores the round 10-9 and the fight 30-27 for Cunningham

Official result: Tony Johnson def. Alton Cunningham via unanimous decision (29-28 x3)

DWCS 18 fight card & results:

  • Tony Johnson def. Alton Cunningham via unanimous decision (29-28 x3)
  • Justin Gonzales def. Zach Zane via unanimous decision (30-26 x3)
  • Kyle Daukaus def. Michael Lombardo via unanimous decision (30-25, 30-26, 29-27)
  • Miles Johns (earns UFC contract) def. Richie Santiago via unanimous decision (30-27 x2, 30-26)
  • Miguel Baeza (earns UFC contract) def. Victor Reyna via unanimous decision (29-28 x3)