Jean Matsumoto (LFA)

Contender Series: Season 7, Ep. 6 Preview and Predictions

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. 12 and streams live on ESPN+ starting at 8 p.m. ET.

The Lineup

LW: James Llontop (13-2, FFC Gym, Peru) vs. Malik Lewis (6-1, Jackson Winklejohn MMA, USA)


FW: AJ Cunningham (10-2, Law School MMA, USA) vs. Steven Nguyen (8-1, Fortis MMA, USA)

BW: Jean Matsumoto (13-0, Insie Muay Thai, Brazil) vs. Kasey Tanner (6-0, Fight Ready MMA, USA)

HW: Eduardo Neves (7-1, Eduardo Machado Team, Brazil) vs. Jhonata Diniz (5-0, Santa Fe Team, Brazil)

WSW: Julia Polastri (11-3, CWB Fighter, Brazil) vs. Patricia Alujas (9-2, Evolucao Thai, Paraguay)

Best Prospect: Matsumoto

Matsumoto is one of the best prospects in the bantamweight division right now and is going to get to showcase that on this episode. The 23-year-old Brazilian has fought at both 125 and 135, but 135 is now his home as he puts on more size. He is well-rounded and athletic, ad has been stellar in his 13-0 run on the Brazilian regional scene. He has fought successfully a few times for the LFA, where he really was able to expose himself to a wider viewing. He’s a guy that in a few years could be top-25 UFC bantamweight and eventually a contender.

Best Fight: Cunningham-Nguyen

All action. No steps back. Bite down on the mouth piece and go. That’s what AJ Cunningham and Steven Nguyen will provide when they step in the cage until one of them can fight no more. What else could you ask for?

The Dark Horse: Diniz

Bringing a wealth of professional kickboxing experience to the cage, do not sleep on heavyweight slugger Jhonata Diniz. The 6’4” veteran of Glory has experience at the highest level of the striking arts, but he’s looked very good in his five MMA fights. All five of his wins come by way of first-round knockout, as he lives true to his striking roots. He has Contender Series veteran Eduardo Neves on this episode, so the UFC is clearly trying to test him before they eventually ink him to a deal.

The Long Shot: Alujas

The Brazilian and South American regional scene is commonly hard to find top-level competition, as there are a ton of lower-level fighters available and not as many aces. That is the case for most of Patricia Alujas’ career, though she has competed against some solid fighters such as Mabelly Lima and Bruna Vargas. Outside of that, the talent has been few and far between. She has a big step up in competition in this Contender Series opportunity in Julia Polastri, a vet of the Contender Series and one of the top prospects at 115 pounds. She’ll probably be the biggest underdog on the episode.

LW: James Llontop vs. Malik LewisLewis
FW: AJ Cunningham vs. Steven NguyenCunningham
BW: Jean Matsumoto vs. Kasey TannerMatsumoto
HW: Eduardo Neves vs. Jhonata DinizDiniz
WSW: Julia Polastri vs. Patricia AlujasPolastri