Dana White’s Contender Series is back for its seventh 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 first episode of the new season takes place on Sept. 5 and streams live on ESPN+ starting at 8 p.m. ET.
LHW: Brendon Ribeiro (14-5, Evolucao Thai, Brazil) vs. Bruno Lopes (11-0, China Team, Brazil)
BW: Serhiy Sidey (9-1, Joslin’s MMA, Canada) vs. Ramon Tavares (8-1, Bulldog Boxing, USA)
MW: Chad Hanekom (9-2, Fight Fit Militia, South Africa) vs. Cameron Rowston (8-2, Training Grounds, Australia)
FW: Kevin Vallejos (11-0, Brother of Life MMA, Argentina) vs. Jean Silva (10-2, Fighting Nerds, Brazil)
WFLY: Corrine Laframboise (8-4, Brazilian Top Team Canada, Canada) vs. Rainn Guerrero (5-1, WAR Training Center, USA)
Best Prospect: Lopes
Undefeated through eleven pro fights, Bruno Lopes is the best fighter on this episode by a longshot. He’s clearly a guy that the UFC is setting up for a showcase here before brining him to the UFC roster. Lopes is the LFA Light Heavyweight Champion and has been highly impressive thus far. He has a good mixture of knockouts and submissions, showing he’s well-rounded. His fights have been dominant and I expect no less on this episode.
Best Fight: Sidey-Tavares
In terms of action and excitability, the bantamweight scrap between Serhiy Sidey and Ramon Tavares appears to be one that will be action packed. Sidey is an aggressive finisher coming off an impressive BFL Championship finish of Ali Wasuck. He even owns a victory over UFC vet Walel Watson. Tavares is an aggressive striker that constantly comes forward looking for the knockout. His best wins are over UFC vet Martin Day and legendary figure Charles “Krazy Horse” Bennett, though one can argue Tavares is in need of a step up in competition. He will get one here in what should be a banger.
The Dark Horse: Laframboise
Do not look at Corrine Laframboise’s numerical record and underestimate her. The Canadian fighter may be 8-4, but she has quality experience and has potentially one of the strongest resumes on this season of the Contender Series. She’s a finisher who has beaten former unbeaten top prospect Carolina Jimenez. She’s fought in top-level regional organizations. Her last two recorded losses are to UFC fighters Manon Fiorot (who is now a top-five flyweight) and Jamey-Lyn Horth (LFA Champion before signing with UFC).
The Long Shot: Ribeiro
Brendson Ribeiro is the longshot on this episode for a couple of reasons. First off, two of his last four fights are losses. Secondly, he’s taking on the toughest fighter on this episode in Bruno Lopes. The UFC sees him as a stepping stone for Lopes, which is why he’s in this fight. He could definitely pull this one off, as anyone can, but he’s got a tough road to the UFC here.
LHW: Brendson Ribeiro vs. Bruno Lopes
BW: Serhiy Sidey vs. Ramon Tavares
MW: Chad Hanekom vs. Cameron Rowston
FW: Kevin Vallejos vs. Jean Silva
WFLY: Corrine Laframboise vs. Rainn Guerrero
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