Julius Anglickas (T) (Lucas Johnson/Combat Press)

Contender Series: Season 3, Episode 8 Preview and Predictions

Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series continues its third season.

The show, which moved to its new home on ESPN+ this year, aims to give top prospects a chance to impress the UFC brass in an attempt to earn a contract with the company.

The show’s eighth episode of the season takes place on Aug. 6. The ESPN+ stream gets underway at 8 p.m. ET.


The Lineup

LHW: Herdem Alacabek (5-0, Black House MMA) vs. William Knight (4-0, Thornton’s Martial Arts)

WW: Brok Weaver (13-4, Port City MMA) vs. Devin Smyth (9-1, Murcielago MMA)

Women’s BW: Sarah Alpar (8-4, American Elite MMA) vs. Shanna Young (6-1, Knoxville Martial Arts Academy)

BW: Tony Gravely (18-5, Tech MMA & Fitness Academy) vs. Ray Rodriguez (15-5, Ohana Jiu-Jitsu)

LHW: Karl Reed (6-1, Upstate Karate) vs. Julius Anglickas (6-1, St. Charles MMA)

Best Prospect: Gravely

In MMA, it’s almost hard to call a 23-fight veteran a prospect, but 27-year-old Tony Gravely certainly is one in the bantamweight division. The man is not only a consistent finisher, but an exciting fighter that always brings it. He’s an outstanding athlete and well-rounded fighter that can bang or grapple. All five of his losses have come against top competition, including prospect Patrick Mix, UFC fighters Merab Dvalishvili and Manny Bermudez, and Bellator’s Ricky Bandejas. Gravely has also beaten some top talent. He fights top regional guys, and competes on a very consistent basis. He’s the type of fighter the UFC craves.

Best Fight: Alpar vs. Young

Do not miss this fight. It’s going to be a slugfest. Both women are known to stand and bang, playing for blood over safety. Shanna Young has ground skills, but she showed in her fight with Lisa Spangler that she will go straight Rock-‘em, Sock-‘em Robots in the center of the cage. Sarah Alpar is a striker who might be at a disadvantage on the mat against Young, but she can easily entice her opponent into a war of hands. This should be an enjoyable fight. UFC President Dana White will be lively on the reaction cam.

The Longshot: Weaver

Brok Weaver looks to entertain the masses, but he falls toward the bottom of the pack in terms of the talent on this card. He does own a win over two Contender Series veterans — Tyler Hill, who was absolutely destroyed by Dwight Grant, and Max Mustaki, who got creamed by Jalin Turner. He’s certainly gotten better, but is he at the UFC level because he beat Contender Series losers and Charles “Krazy Horse” Bennett a decade-plus after Bennett’s run in Pride? We will see when he battles Devin Smyth.

The Dark Horse: Knight

A lot of people are going to put their money on Herdem Alacabek, but do not sleep on his opponent, William Knight. The 31-year-old is a physical specimen with immense power and incredibly dangerous striking. Alacabek will have more recognition from his time in the Legacy Fighting Alliance, but Knight has arguably beaten tougher opponents. He’s even scored a 2017 amateur win over Contender Series vet and current UFC roster member Yorgan de Castro. This is definitely the fighter to keep an eye on for this card.

Signing Predictions: Reed, Knight, Young, Gravely

The UFC is always in need of big guys, especially light heavyweights. Therefore, the winner of both light-heavyweight bouts will get inked. Those men will be Karl Reed and William Knight.

Shanna Young is the type of exciting fighter that White and company will appreciate. She will go in, put on a show, and impress the brass with her toughness. She gets inked and possibly drops to the 125-pound division.

Tony Gravely is too good to pass up. He will have an entertaining bout with Ray Rodriguez, turn in a win, and wow the bosses. He’ll be a welcome addition to the shark tank that is the UFC bantamweight division.

Fight Picks

Fight Pick
LHW: Herdem Alacabek vs. William Knight Knight
WW: Brok Weaver vs. Devin Smyth Smyth
Women’s BW: Sarah Alpar vs. Shanna Young Young
BW: Tony Gravely vs. Ray Rodriguez Gravely
LHW: Karl Reed vs. Julius Anglickas Reed