Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series continues to be a huge success for Dana White and the UFC. Contender Series 5 provided four finishes, four very entertaining fights and one bizarre heavyweight battle (we’ll get to that later).
The recipe for success? Well, the fighters aren’t just competing against their opponent. They’re also competing against the fighters who feature in the four other fights for entry to the UFC. Dana White and ‘the suits’ from the UFC awarded two contracts at the conclusion of Contender Series 5, each to Mike Rodriguez and Alex Perez. Tonight was also the first night there was speculation whether there would be three contracts awarded due to a standout performance from Julio Arce who scored a KO/TKO victory in the second round against Peter Petties.
Dana White’s Contender Series 5 Results
- Mike Rodriguez* def. Jamelle Jones via KO/TKO (flying knee and punches) – Round 1, 2:15
- Julio Arce def. Peter Petties via KO/TKO (punches) – Round 2, 2:39
- Alex Perez* def. Kevin Gray via submission (anaconda choke) – Round 1, 2:54
- Ricky Simon def. Donavon Frelow via split decision
- Shelton Graves def. Everett Sims via KO/TKO (ground and pound) – Round 3, 2:20
* fighters awarded a contract with the UFC
It was going to take a spectacular effort in tonight’s main event to top the performances of Alex Perez and Julio Arce and score a UFC contract. Unfortunately for Julio Arce, Mike Rodriguez stole the show with a highlight reel finish of Jamelle Jones.
The first few minutes of the main event were a feeling out process. Snoop Dogg, on the ‘Snoopcast’, said that these two fighters were still filling out their job applications and weren’t recognizing the opportunity that’s in front of them right now. It turns out that Rodriguez was just getting a read on his opponent. When Jones changed levels in response to a Rodriguez jab, Rodriguez followed it up with a powerful flying knee that connected on the shoulder and side of the face of Jones. If that wasn’t enough, Rodriguez followed through with a short left hand to the face of Jones that left him bloody before referee Mark Smith could stop the contest.
It was the fourth fight and fourth win for Mike Rodriguez in 2017. All of his wins have come in the first round, including a seven-second knockout and a 39-second knockout at CES MMA events. Admittedly, we saw just a little over two minutes of him inside the octagon tonight, but he looked superb. Rodriguez has a brilliant mind for martial arts and takes the time to dissect his opponent before unleashing a brutal beatdown.
Mike Rodriguez will add much-needed talent to the light heavyweight division in the UFC. Rodriguez should cause trouble for many of the current light heavyweights on the roster, and he’ll now have many fans eagerly awaiting his debut.
"A lot of people don't know me, but after Tuesday night they will."
Alex Perez was the greatest pickup for the UFC after Contender Series 5. Perez, at the age of 25, entered the TUF Gym tonight with a record of 17-4. It's not often you see a fighter of such young age with vast experience like Perez.
Perez's expertise was apparent tonight. Ring generalship and distance management are two skills which are often attained through rounds and rounds of combat. Perez allowed himself plenty of room to land his strikes at maximum range for the entire fight and Gray was never in range for his own shots. In fact, every time Gray attempted an attack, Perez swiftly ducked out of range. On the offensive, Perez is extremely dangerous. He backed Gray up to the cage, but instead of pushing forward into the limited operating room, he allowed Gray to step forward back towards the center of the octagon and maintain an optimal distance between himself and his opponent. Both his defensive and offensive footwork are excellent.
To seal the deal, Perez even managed to latch onto an anaconda choke and put Kevin Gray to sleep within seconds. Thankfully, referee Mark Smith was carefully watching the action and called the fight off as soon as Gray went unconscious.
The UFC flyweight division now has a formidable new contender to deal with. Fights with the likes of Louis Smolka and Brandon Moreno will prove to be fascinating battles one day for Alex Perez and if he can defeat that caliber of opponents, who knows how far he can go in the UFC.
You can watch Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series every Tuesday on UFC Fight Pass. If you’re up for something a little different make sure to try out the well-received ‘Snoopcast’ feature. ‘Snoopcast’ is an alternative audio and visual experience that allows you to watch the event with commentary provided by Snoop Dogg and recently admitted Hall-of-Famer Urijah Faber.
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