Meet The Fighters Who Gained Immediate Contracts From Season 2 Of The Contender Series

Season two of Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series has come to a close and once again we have been treated to a tremendous summer of fights to dwindle away our Tuesday evenings. Over the duration of eight weeks,  33 of the 40 scheduled bouts ended before the judges were called into play, smashing last seasons record of 25 finishes. As we know, Dana White cannot sign every fighter who wins to the ever growing roster of the UFC, but a staggering 23 fighters where handed immediate contracts and others have been called up on short notice opportunities. In this article we will take a look at the 23 fighters who won contracts directly after the show, and I have even been fortunate enough to catch up with some of the fighters for a quick interview to see how they are feeling after achieving the dream of every mixed martial artist on the planet!

All interviews conducted by Ryan Cambridge of MMAMotion.

Week One.

Alonzo Menifield

Menifield

After winning his fight on season one of the contender series and not recieving a contract, Alonzo Menifield did exatcly the right thing, he went away and won two fights in quick fashion and threw his name back in the hat for season two. The 30 year old did not need a third opportunity and he struck while the iron was hot. It took Texas born Menifield just eight seconds to TKO Dashawn Boatwright in the featured fight of the evening. The light heavyweight enters the UFC with a perfect 7-0 record and looks forward to the greener pastures now he has a contract from MMA’s leading organisation.

Greg Hardy

Greg-Hardy

Greg Hardy gained his contract into the UFC’s devolpment programme in his first professional fight. The former NFL player took just 57 seconds to knockout Austen Lane and secure himself the contract. Hardy’s summer had not finshed there though as Dana White got him another fight on the final week of the series. Hardy impressed once again but this time it took only 17 seconds to knockout Tebaris Gordon. The future is bright for American Top Team’s newest heavyweight arrival and heres a staggering statistic, in five amateur fights and two pro fights, Hardy has spent less than six minutes fighting and has knocked out every man who stood infront of him.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Week two.

 

Matt Sayles

Dana White's Tuesday Night Contender Series: Sayles v Hajeh

Matt “Robo” Sayles impressed everyone with his first round TKO victory over Yazan Hajeh in under two minutes. The 24 year old held a 7-1 pro record before getting his shot in the UFC. The featherweight was called upon to fight Sheymon Moraes at UFC 227 where he slightly fell short and lost a tough decision. Sayles clearly has bags of potential at just 24 years old and im sure Alliance MMA will soon sculpt him into the best UFC fighter he can be!

Anthony Hernandez

anthony-hernandez-dwcs-10

Anthony “Fluffy” Hernandez needed only 40 seconds to seal himself a UFC contract when he knocked out Jordan Wright in dramatic fashion. The UFC has gained an exciting undefeated middleweight prospect in Hernandez who has finished six of his seven pro fights inside one round. Hernandez’ passion was ever present on his short stay at the contender series so it will be fun to see where this young Californian ends up.

What got you into mixed martial arts and what’s your earliest MMA memory?

AH: Me and my boys would get bored and beat the shit out of each other. My dad said we need to go to a gym before we get hurt . So my cousin Joseph & Meeshee Started training invited me to try it and I fell in love with the sport. I wasn’t very good but I was determined

Who is your biggest inspiration?

AH: My fathers my biggest inspiration, he showed me how to be a man and work hard for what you want.

When you finished your fight on the contender series were you confident that Dana White would offer you the contract?

AH: I honestly wasn’t sure.

What do you feel you’ll bring to the UFC when you get your shot?

AH: You’ll see a money hungry man in there fighting his ass off for his kids .

Do you have an opponent in mind for your UFC debut?

AH: Don’t follow mma, I don’t really care who’s infornt of me. This shits just a job. It’s entertainment for everyone else .

What do you want to be remembered for the end of your career?

AH: I just wanna show the world not everything goes our way in life, but if you don’t count yourself out sky’s the limit.

Do you have anything you’d like to say to the rest of the fighters in your weightclass?

AH: Hi, it’s me

Ryan Spann

Dana White's Tuesday Night Contender Series: Spann v Sordi

Ryan “Superman” Spann is one of the more experianced fighters who entered the cage on this season of the contender series. With a pro record of 14-5 Spann has been around a while and gained alot of fighting IQ despite being only 26 years old. This was paramount in his fight as “Superman” secured a guillotine choke in 26 seconds over Emiliano Sordi. Spann has already got a fight booked and will fight Luis Henrique at UFC Fight Night 137 on September 22nd.

Dwight Grant

Dwight Grant

Dwight Grant had a very impressive performance when he knocked out Tyler Hill in the second round. The future of AKA is now on a seven fight win streak and wants the rest of the welterweight division in the UFC to take a look at the new problem awaiting his shot inside the octagon.

What got you into mixed martial arts and what’s your earliest MMA memory?
DG:  This is a hard question for me to pin down. I love Jeet Kune do which is Bruce Lee’s art. So technically my earliest MMA memory is that fight scene in “Enter the Dragon” . But the first time I trained MMA as a sport was when I took a Vale Tudo class. I heard the name of the art in a videogame so I wanted to take the class and try it out. I loved it. No one criticizing my technique or movements. The goal was to win however you can.
Who is your biggest inspiration?
DG: Well its gonna be my family.
When you finished your fight on the contender series were you confident that Dana White would offer you the contract?
DG: Yes because I thought I just had to win. I thought everyone that won in a great way would be offered one. I think it was a record breaking night when they offered four contracts. I’m glad. Every one was so happy, I love seeing people win with so much on the line.
What do you feel you’ll bring to the UFC when you get your shot?
DG: A true mixture of martial arts. I want people to celebrate the action of the fights and the disciplines involved in creating that action. I want to expose the MMA world to new ways of action and thought.
Do you have an opponent in mind for your UFC debut?
DG: Nope, I’m like Shakira right now, just singing “Whenever, Wherever” to my management and hoping for a dance partner.
What do you want to be remembered for at the end of your career?
DG: High light reel finishes, and truly embodying a real martial artist. Changing the way people think of and train mixed martial arts and of course passion. I want people to remember how passionately I trained for my fights and finished my opponents. Hopefully that can inspire them to be just as passionate in the pursuit of their dreams.
Do you have anything you’d like to say to the rest of the fighters in your weightclass
DG: Hello, my name is Dwight and it will be my pleasure to make your acquaintance

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Week three.

Antonina Shevchenko

Dana White's Tuesday Night Contender Series: Shevchenko v Nievera

Antonina “Pantera” Shevchenko showed she is much more than just Valentina Shevchenko’s sister when she took to the octagon on week three of the contender series. “Pantera”, much like her sister, is a highly decorated muay thai champion and is much more confident on her feet than engaging in a wrestling or jujitsu match. In her fight against Jaimelene Nievera she seriously showcased her arsenal of striking skills and kept her distance from Nievera who was desperate to get the fight to the floor. Shevchenko was able to secure a second round TKO victory and Dana White saw enough from the flyweight to hand her the UFC contact she so hungrly desired.

Te’Jovan Edwards

Dana White's Tuesday Night Contender Series: Tweedy v Edwards

Te’Jovan Edwards is one of the most exciting lightweights up and coming from the MMA Lab, with a record of 6-1 and all six of his wins being knockouts it was always going to be a fun watch when he was faced against Austin Tweedy. In just 28 seconds Edwards earned the knockout and earned the contract directly into the UFC. No fight has been booked for Pheonix’s Edwards but whoever it will be one thing is guaranteed, it’s going to be a great watch.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Week four.

Bevon Lewis

Dana White's Tuesday Night Contender Series: Lewis v Cunningham

Bevon Lewis has a very great presence in the cage, he looks in constant control 99% of the time and reads the fight remarkably well. It’s no surprise the Jackson Wink standout is 6-0 and seems like nobody will be stopping this unbeaten record anytime soon. In three minutes “The Extraordinary Gentleman” rained knees on his opponent Alton Cunningham who didn’t know what had hit him. The UFC has gained one exciting middleweight and I cannot wait to see who he will fight on his debut for the MMA leader.

What got you into mixed martial arts and what’s your earliest MMA memory?

BL: Getting into MMA was my own choice I made. My earliest memory was when my brother and I started to spar in my mom’s house. Once we learned some moves

Who is your biggest inspiration?

BL: My parents are my inspiration hard workers and they taught me about patients and respect

When you finished your fight on the contender series were you confident that Dana White would offer you the contract?

BL: When I finished my fight on the series I was confident that Dana White saw the future

What do you feel you’ll bring to the UFC when you get your shot? Do you have an opponent in mind for your UFC debut?

BL: Brad Tavares

What do you want to be remembered for at the end of your career?

BL: The roster. At the end of fights career. I would like to have legendary status

Do you have anything you’d like to say to the rest of the fighters in your weightclass?

BL: To the middleweight division I’d like to say “ stop playing”

Jordan Espinosa

Jordan Espinosa

Jordan Espinosa also had his second opportunity on the contender series after not receiving a contract on season one last summer. Espinosa has a record of 13-5 and a very high finish rate. A pro since 2012 Espinosa has waited a long time to impress Dana White, and he did so in staggering fashion when he TKO’d Riley Dutro two seconds before the fight was handed to the judges to decide its fate. Dana saw enough from the 28-year-old to hand him a contract and bring him into the slim pickings of the flyweight divisions.

 

 

 

 

 

Week five.

Maycee Barber

Maycee Barber

20 year old Maycee “The Future” Barber has one goal, to become the youngest ever UFC champion. She made great strides in this dream with a majestic performance over a tough Jamie Colleen. “The Future” was in total control of the entire fight and made the fight look easy. Herb Dean was forced to stop the fight in the third round when a success fueled Barber was launching elbows towards Colleen at an alarming rate. Dana offered Colorado’s Barber a contract so her dream could very well be a reality!

Domingo Pilarte

domingo-pilarte-vince-morales-dwcs-13-6

Domingo “Son Of Fire” Pilarte let his Brazilian jiu-jitsu roots do the talking once again on week five of the Contender Series. After a fairly close opening round, Pilarte was able to pull off a rear naked choke taking him to an 8-1 pro record. “Son Of Fire” has an impressive array of submissions and KOs on his record so he should make an exciting addition to the UFC’s bantamweight division.

Edmen Shahbazyan

edmen-shahbazyan-dwcs-13-1

20-year-old Edmen Shahbazyan needed only 40 seconds to TKO Antonio Jones to secure he’s UFC contract. The middleweight already has a 7-0 record and has knocked out every victim stood across from him inside the cage. With all the potential in the world, it’s going to be intriguing to see how he copes with the step up in competition and where he will fit in inside the UFC.

 

 

 

Week six.

Jim Crute

Jim Crute

Jim “The Brute” Crute has maintained his undefeated record by blasting away Chris Birchler inside the first round via TKO and sealing himself a contract with the MMA leader. The 22-year old’s first fight inside the UFC will be in front of his home country when he fights Paul Craig at UFC Fight Night Australia on December 1st. Crute will be hoping to cement himself firmly inside the UFC with another fantastic performance with the ambitions of extending his pro record to 9-0!

Sodiq Yusuff

Sodiq Yusuff

“Super” Sodiq Yusuff dreams came true on the contender series. Its clear Yusuff is pround of his Nigerian roots and expressed his love for the country and how the country has made him the man he is today. “Super” was one of my personal stand out performers from the contender series and the absoloute war he won inside the cage left Dana White with no option but to sign Yusuff into it’s already highly anticipated featherweight division!

What got you into mixed martial arts and what’s your earliest MMA memory?

SY: I honestly cant tell you what got me into it. Like most things in life, you know you are meant to do as soon as I saw it I was what I was gonna do.

Who is your biggest inspiration?

SY: My biggest inspiration is my family. Providing for them through my hard work and paying my mother back for her sacrifices

When you finished your fight on the contender series were you confident that Dana White would offer you the contract?

SY: There was no doubt in my mind. I knew I displayed the technical competency of a UFC fighter. What more could you ask for?

What do you feel you’ll bring to the UFC when you get your shot?

SY: I bring an exciting striking. Fun personality and the pride of my nation 👊🏿💪🏿🇳🇬

Do you have an opponent in mind for your UFC debut?

SY: Not currently as long as it’s a fun match up. Most like with my teammate James Vick..

Do you have anything you’d like to say to the rest of the fighters in your weightclass?

SY: What’s understood doesn’t have to be said. They saw my performance.

Thank you for answering my questions, do you have anything you’d like to add?

SY: The things I’d like to add is just some shout out to my sponsor because I wouldn’t be here with out them like airrosti with fixing my injuries, purespectrum, and the Super squad

Jeff Hughes

Jeff-Hughes

Its no secret the UFC needs heavyweights to spice things up inside the UFC, so when Jeff  “Lights Out” Hughes knocked out Josh Appelt inside the first round, Dana was forced to bring in the 30-year-old. Hughes has a good mixture of knockouts and decision victories on his resume so it’s apparent that a fight against “Lights Out” will be tricky business for any man in the UFCs heavyweight division.

What got you into mixed martial arts and what’s your earliest MMA memory?

JH: I was 17 and just finished my high school wrestling career. I didn’t have grades to go to college so I decided to start training in MMA. My first memory of the sport was renting one of the first UFC on VHS from the video store. My cousin and I watched it then started beating each other up.

Who is your biggest inspiration?

JH: My daughter. She’s a big reason why I fight.

When you finished your fight on the contender series were you confident that Dana White would offer you the contract?

JH: No I was terrified. It was 10 times more nerve-wracking than the fight. The fight was the easy part.

What do you feel you’ll bring to the UFC when you get your shot?

JH: If people like to see Heavyweights who like to throw down and use a lot of different techniques. Then I’m your guy.

Do you have an opponent in mind for your UFC debut?

JH: No just waiting till I get a match up.

What do you want to be remembered for at the end of your career?

JH: That I loved to fight. I love everything about it. The training, the coaches, training partners, everything about this sport.

Do you have anything you’d like to say to the rest of the fighters in your weightclass?

JH: Don’t look past me. It’s going to be a long night one way or another.

Thank you for answering my questions, do you have anything you’d like to add?

JH: Thank you to all my coaches and teammates at strong style, my friends family and all the fans.

 

 

Week seven.

Roosevelt Roberts

Roosevelt Roberts

Roosevelt Roberts is one of the most exciting prospects in all of MMA’s lightweight divisions. Roberts is undefeated at 6-0 and has a 100% finishing success rate, with three knockouts, and three submissions, topped off with a beautiful rear-naked choke submission victory over Garrett Gross on the contender series. Standing at 6’1 the American is massive for the weight class and would enjoy a height and reach advantage over 99% of over lightweights on the globe.

Ian Heinisch

Ian Heinisch

Ian “The Hurricane” Heinisch left behind his days at LFA when he knocked out Justin Sumter with vicious elbows in the first round to land himself a contract in the UFC. Three back to back knockout victories means “The Hurricane” will surely be an exciting prospect to watch in the middleweight division with so many great potential match ups!

Jordan Griffin

Jordan-Griffin

Jordan “The Native Psycho” Griffin has had one of the longer journeys to the UFC from season two of the contender series. The 28-year-old has been a pro since 2011 and has a pro record of 17-5. The Roufusport stand out showed the experience he’s obtained when he chocked out Maurice Mitchell in the first round. Griffin will be hoping to turn his four-fight win streak into five when he gets his call to fall for the UFC’s featherweight division.

Juan Adams

juan-adams-dwcs-15-1

Juan “The Kraken” Adams has only needed four pro fights to receive hIs call-up to the UFC’s heavyweight division. Four fights and four TKO finishes make Adams a very entertaining fighter to watch. Shawn Teed ran into a very hungry Adams who knocked him out in the first round.

What got you into mixed martial arts and what’s your earliest MMA memory?

JA: Earliest memory is doing kickboxing to stay in shape between college wrestling seasons, then I went to spar for the first time and mike Bronzoulis kicked me in the face and gave me a black eye.

Who is your biggest inspiration?

JA: My mother is my biggest inspiration

When you finished your fight on the contender series were you confident that Dana White would offer you the contract?

JA: I didn’t know because nothing is guaranteed on the show, i was just trying to enjoy the moment.

What do you feel you’ll bring to the UFC when you get your shot?

JA: I feel that I’ll bring something new to the division that they haven’t ever seen before, and obviously add some entertainment value to the weight class.

Do you have an opponent in mind for your UFC debut?

JA: I’d like to fight either junior Albini or Chris de la Rosa

What do you want to be remembered for at the end of your career?

JA: I want to be remembered as the first of a new breed of athlete in the ufc

Do you have anything you’d like to say to the rest of the fighters in your weightclass?

JA: Not really, they will find out what I’m about soon enough

 

 

Week eight.

Devonte Smith

Devonte Smith

Devonte “King Kage” Smith has a 100% finishing success rate in his eight wins as a pro fighter and for a lightweight that’s a very impressive resume. Smith’s only loss as a pro came to John Gunther (member of the last season of The Ultimate Fighter) who is a very tough fighter to face. “King Kage” looked incredible in hIs fight against Joseph Lowry and knocked him out with elbows inside three minutes. Maybe a rematch with Gunther could be an option as a debut fight for Smith.

Kennedy Nzechukwu

Dana White's Tuesday Night Contender Series: Nzechukwu v Bryant

Kennedy Nzechukwu had his second fight on the contender series and took the opportunity the way you’d expect him to. After being disappointed with a split decision victory in season one, Nzechukwu went away and earned back to back TKO victories, then came and TKO’d Dennis Bryant in magnificent fashion to earn himself the UFC contract, the undefeated light heavyweight is definitely one to watch as the future unfolds.

Bobby Moffett

bobby-moffett-dwcs-16-post-fight-intv

Finally, we have Bobby “The Wolfman” Moffett, the MMA Lab stand out has had a long and successful career on his journey to the UFC. “The Wolfman” has a 13-3 record and has been fighting professionally since 2013 and is more hungry than ever for the sweet taste of success inside the octagon. Moffett impressed Dana White a lot with his D’arce choke submission victory over Jacob Kilburn, and this was enough for the UFC president to offer him the last contact available from the season on the contender series.

 

Ryan Cambridge

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