Shamil Gaziev (BRAVE CF)

Contender Series: Season 7, Ep. 7 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

HW: Shamil Gaziev (10-0, KHK MMA Team, Russia) vs. Greg Velasco (6-0, Bayshore Jiu JItsu, USA)


LW: Jacobi Jones (6-1, Factory X Muay Thai, USA) vs. Daniel James Allen (4-0, American Kickboxing Academy, USA)

WSW: Stephanie Luciano (5-1, Gordin Fight Team, Brazil) vs. Talita Alencar (4-0, MMA Masters, Brazil)

LW: Kaynan Kruschewsky (14-1, Revira Black Team, Brazil) vs. Dylan Mantello (7-2, Longo and Weidman MMA, USA)

FLY: Jhonata Silva (8-1, Nova Uniao, Brazil) vs. Igor da Silva (7-0, Chute Boxe, Paraguay)

Best Prospect: Gaziev

Heavyweight powerhouse Shamil Gaziev is one of the best prospects on the entire season and probably could have walked straight onto the UFC roster. The Russian, who now trains with the solid KHK MMA Team in Bahrain, is a powerful wrestler with big-time power in his hands. Whether he’s landing a big punch on the feet, like he did recently against Pavel Dailidko, or ground-and-pounding his foe, like he did in his most recent bout against UFC veteran Darko Stosic, Gaziev is a nasty finisher that prefers to put guys away with a bludgeoning. His biggest win to date was over previously undefeated top prospect Kirill Kornilov.

Best Fight: Silva-da Silva

Two of Brazil’s top gyms are Nova Uniao and Chute Boxe, so the fact that two of their own are squaring off on this card is intriguing. Silva, who splits time with Nova Uniao and training in Italy, is a veteran of several notable organizations such as Cage Warriors, Superior Challenge and Shooto Brasil. His lone loss was to Yan Teixeira, but is an exciting striker known for his flashy knockouts, including two via knees. Igor da Silva represents Chute Boxe and while he has more submission finishes, he is also a typical wild, powerful Chute Boxe fighter. This one should be good.

The Dark Horse: Alencar

There are a couple of dark horses on this episode, but undefeated grappling ace Talita Alencar is the most intriguing of the bunch. She is a champion grappler who has transitioned to MMA nicely. She has split her time between Titan FC and LFA, two top regional organizations. Three of her wins come by way of submission by rear-naked choke. That said, she hasn’t taken a step up in competition until now, where she takes on the solid Stephanie Luciano.

The Long Shot: Allen

The biggest longshot on the card right now is Daniel James Allen. The biggest reason why is that he’s inexperienced at 4-0 and his opponent’s combined record is 5-8. Allen could be a diamond in the rough who struggles to find competition and could surprise us, but there’s just not enough on Allen that I can find that gives me the confidence to say he’s a top guy on this episode as of right now. He takes a big step up in competition against Jacobi Jones here.

HW: Shamil Gaziev vs. Greg VelascoGaziev
LW: Jacobi Jones vs. Daniel James AllenJones
WSW: Stephanie Luciano vs. Talita AlencarAlencar
LW: Kaynan Kruschewsky vs. Dylan MantelloKruschewsky
FLY: Jhonata Silva vs. Igor da SilvaSilva