Season three of Dana White’s Contender Series still has two weeks remaining, but already, it’ll go down as being the season where the most contracts have been awarded.
So far, through eight installments of this year’s summer series, counting developmental deals, 26 MMA hopefuls have earned a contract as a direct result of appearing on the program.
Comparatively, the entirety of season two of the show (an eight-episode run) had 24 contracts awarded.
To date, in the nearly three-year run of the program, 77 UFC contracts have been awarded as the direct result of a fighter’s appearance on the show.
Last Tuesday night, Tony Gravely, Sarah Alpar, and Brok Weaver all won UFC deals, with William Knight becoming the first fighter this season to win a developmental contract.
Let’s shift our attention now to the penultimate week of Contender Series season three (Tuesday, 8 p.m. EDT, 5 p.m. PDT on ESPN+ [USA] and UFC Fight Pass [internationally] highlighted by the main event in the Welterweight ranks.
7-1 Leon Shabazyan, who was slated to fight on the season premiere against Brok Weaver in the co-main event, but withdrew due to illness the day before the card, headlines this week against 6-2 Phillip Rowe.
Heading into this main event, Leon Shabazyan is the taller contestant. He stands 6-foot-4, an inch taller than Phillip Rowe’s 6-foot-3 frame.
Shabazyan has posted a 4-1 mark in his last five MMA appearances, entering this fight on a three-match winning streak.
He looks to build off of a first-round submission victory (guillotine choke) against Daniel McWilliams in CXF 15: Rage in the Cage in Burbank, CA last October.
In the other corner, Phillip Rowe has posted a perfect 5-0 mark in his last five MMA fights, winning last time out against Matt McKeon by second-round submission (guillotine choke) in Island Fights 53 on Mar. 6 on UFC Fight Pass.
Ordinarily, we’d mention who has the reach advantage as per the tale of the tape on Tapology at this stage, but no such information is available.
Prediction: Phillip Rowe by first-round knockout.
Other fights on Tuesday’s card:
Marcos Brigagao (11-0) vs. Jamal Pogues (6-2) [Light Heavyweight, co-main event]
Desmond Torres (7-1) vs. Steve Garcia Jr. (9-3) [Bantamweight]
Micol de Segni (7-2) vs. Mallory Martin (4-2) [Strawweight]
Ricky Steele (5-0) vs. Phil Caracappa (8-0) [Bantamweight]
Contender Series week nine at a glance:
Card: Tuesday, 8 p.m. EDT, 5 p.m. PDT, ESPN+ (USA), UFC Fight Pass (internationally)
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