Dana White’s Contender Series is back for its fifth season.
The show, which continues on its home on ESPN+, 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 second episode of the season takes place on Aug. 9 and streams live on ESPN+ starting at 8 p.m. ET.
MW: Zachary Borrego (3-0, Zenith MMA, USA) vs. Bo Nickal (1-0, American Top Team, USA)
HW: Paulo Renato Jr. (10-1, Infinity Fight Team, Brazil) vs. Jamal Pogues (8-3, Joe Stevenson’s Cobra Kai, USA)
FLY: Edgar Chairez (8-3, Entram Gym, Mexico) vs. Clayton Carpenter (5-0, MMA Lab, USA)
FW: Erik Silva (8-1, Antonio Silva Martial Arts School, Venezuela) vs. Anvar Boynazarov (3-0, Tiger Muay Thai, Uzbekistan)
Best Prospect: Nickal
Just one pro fight into his MMA career, Bo Nickal already has the MMA world buzzing. The Penn State wrestling phenom is seen as not only a blue-chip prospect, but potentially one of the best prospects in the world. Obviously, he has excellent wrestling, but he trains with American Top Team, which is arguably the best gym in the world. He gets excellent coaching and training, and works with killers every single day. The UFC is obviously going to slowly build this guy up. Nickal will likely win his fight, but the UFC will not sign him yet. They will continue to develop him until he’s ready to head to the big show.
Best Fight: Carpenter-Chairez
Flyweight fights are usually among the most exciting on any card they grace, and, in the case of this episode of the Contender Series, the battle between Clayton Carpenter and Edgar Chairez is no exception. Both men are exciting finishers with aggressive styles that get them those finishes early. Chairez is known for his striking arsenal, which has won a majority of his fights. Carpenter has strong wrestling, which he has complimented with some impressive striking ability as well. This clash of styles will make for a very exciting fight that you should not miss.
The Dark Horse: Boynazarov
If the best prospect-fighter on the show goes to 1-0 Bo Nickal, the dark horse is the 3-0 Anvar Boynazarov. The Uzbekistani fighter is an outstanding striker, possessing an excellent Muay Thai background. He has an extensive professional kickboxing background, including a decision victory over now top-15 UFC fighter Giga Chikadze. As a pro mixed martial artist, he’s 3-0, and, while his first two opponents were not high-level (won both fights in under 100 seconds), he took on a more credible opponent in his latest outing under the LFA banner and smoked him with a beautiful knee-punch combination in 21 seconds. He takes on his most experienced and credible opponent to date in Erik Silva here on the Contender Series, which will be an excellent measuring stick if he’s big league ready. His striking certainly is.
The Long Shot: Borrego
Stepping opposite in the cage of Nickal is Zachary Borrego. The 25-year-old Texan is just 3-0 as a pro, but his wins have come against unknown talents. The positive is that he’s fought for Fury FC, a UFC feeder that has a solid-sized platform. He has a tough task here when he fights Nickal, as he will be outgunned in the wrestling department. That said, he has no pressure, seeing as all eyes will be on Nickal. He will need to shock the world in this bout.
This will be a heavy signing episode. The only winner not signed will be Nickal, as explained before.
Jamal Pogues and Karolina Wojcik will get signed, as they are fighters in divisions that need some additional bodies. Pogues also would possess his second Contender Series win, which always seems a lock.
Carpenter is a talented flyweight in a division that could always use more talent on the roster. He scores a win and shows he belongs.
Lastly, Boynazarov has a style that Dana White always digs: an aggressive powerful striker that finishes fights. If he puts away Silva by knockout, White will be throwing a contract his way.
MW: Zachary Borrego vs. Bo Nickal
WSW: Sandra Lavado vs. Karolina Wojcik
HW: Paulo Renato Jr. vs. Jamal Pogues
FLY: Edgar Chairez vs. Clayton Carpenter
FW: Erik Silva vs. Anvar Boynazarov
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