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Contender Series Week 2 Preview

The second edition of Dana White’s Contender Series 2021 will go down on Tuesday. Let’s take a look at what to expect from the fight card!

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The second edition of Dana White’s Contender Series 2021 will go down on Tuesday, Sept. 7, 2021, at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN+. After handing out five UFC contracts in week 1, anything can happen in week 2. The fight card will feature five fights, ten talented fighters, and an endless amount of potential. With fighters featured from all around the world, we are here to make sure you are educated about the fighters looking to earn their UFC contract. Let’s take a look at what to expect from week 2 of the Contender Series 2021.

Muin Gafurov (17-3) vs. Chad Anheliger (10-5)

Firstly, Muin Gafurov will take on Chad Anheliger to start the fight card. Gafurov comes in with more experience than the average Contender Series fighter. Holding a record of 17-3, Gafurov has previously fought for ONE Championship and UAE Warriors. Gafurov is well-rounded with creative striking that makes him dangerous at 135 pounds. His reliable chin and experience offer him the opportunity to win any fight. Gafurov strikes with sneaky power, so make sure not to blink when he is in the cage.

On the contrary, Anheliger has had quite the road to this fight against Gafurov. After starting his pro career 2-5, Anheliger decided this would not be the story of his career. He turned things around and managed to win eight fights in a row. Anheliger leaves everything in the cage and looks to end the fight every chance he gets. Consequently, Anheliger finished nine of his ten wins, six by KO/TKO and three submissions. Anheliger is now one big win away from the ultimate comeback of 2-5 to the UFC.

Bruno Korea (12-3-1) vs. Carlos Vergara (8-2-1)

Secondly, Bruno Korea and Carlos Vergara look to be the newest additions to the UFC flyweight division. After going 2-1 in The Ultimate Fighter Brazil Season 4, Korea got a chance in the UFC against Matheus Nicolau. Unfortunately, he did not get the win and was not given another chance in the UFC. Luckily, Korea found success on the regional scene, going 8-2-1 after his short UFC tenure. Korea’s slick jiu-jitsu and technical striking have earned him another shot in the biggest MMA promotion in the world.

Although Korea’s striking has improved greatly, he must be careful against the explosive Vergara. Holding a record of 8-2-1, Vergara has won five of his fights by KO/TKO. Vergara has now won four fights in a row, dating back to March 2019. Despite the lack of experienced opponents, Vergara has the ability to end any fight at flyweight. Vergara will need to avoid Korea’s BJJ and look for a statement finish on the feet.

Saimon Oliveira (17-3) vs. Jose Alday (14-5-1)

Thirdly, Saimon Oliveira vs. Jose Alday is a matchup between two closely skilled fighters. Since turning pro in 2013, Oliveira has been using his jiu-jitsu to create success. Consequently, Oliveira has won eleven of his fights by submission. The main concern for Oliveira will be the fact he has not fought in nearly two years. With that being said, Oliveira’s BJJ always offers him a path to victory. Additionally, Oliveira’s striking improvements have set him up for success in the UFC moving forward.

Alday is a talented fighter who has had his ups and downs on the regional scene. Holding a record of 14-5-1, Alday has wins over UFC fighters Gustavo Lopez and John Castaneda. After starting his pro career 8-0, Alday struggled at times with step-ups in competition. Alday’s last fight was four months ago, where he won in only 57 seconds by KO. He now looks to ride that momentum into the biggest fight of his MMA career and cash in on a UFC contract.

Mario Sousa (12-1) vs. Chidi Njokuani (19-7) may be the fight of the night for the second week of the Contender Series 2021

Mario Sousa vs. Chidi Njokuani has fight of the night written all over it. Holding a record of 12-1, Sousa can finish this fight wherever it goes. As a result of his fight style, Sousa has finished eleven of his twelve wins. At 24 years old, Sousa has won his last five fights in a row. The last time we saw Sousa, he won on last year’s Contender Series against Mariusz Ksiazkiewicz. Unfortunately, Sousa was not awarded a UFC contract but got invited back for another chance at earning a contract.

Njokuani comes in as potentially the most experienced fighter on the 2021 Contender Series. After building up a record of 13-4, Njokuani signed with Bellator. Njokuani ended up with a Bellator record of 5-3 with tons of experience gained. He ultimately parted ways with Bellator and fought one fight with LFA before getting invited to DWCS. Njokuani uses his striking to control the pace and damage his opponent throughout the fight. Although he comes in as an underdog, underestimating Njokuani would be a mistake.

Josh Quinlan (5-0) vs. Logan Urban (5-1) will headline the second week of the Contender Series 2021

In the headliner, Josh Quinlan and Logan Urban will end the night with a bang. Coming in on short notice, Urban is simply as game as they come. Holding a record of 5-1, every single one of Urban’s fights has ended by a finish. Although his opponents were mostly inexperienced, his dominant performances have continued to speak volumes. Urban is unpredictable and creates damage wherever the fight goes. Despite taking the fight on short notice, Urban always comes to fight and has the skills needed to win.

On the other side of the cage, Quinlan has maintained a perfect record through five fights. Not only has he won all of his fights, but Quinlan has also finished every fight. Quinlan mostly maintains a counterstriking approach with a reliable ground game. At 28 years old, his ability to create damage has made him an interesting prospect. With his previous opponent dropping out, Quinlan will have to make last-second adjustments to his game plan. All things considered, the winner of the main event will most likely earn a UFC contract.

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COPA COMBATE: Brackets Announced For One-Night Tournament, $100,000 on the line

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Combate Global today announced the official brackets and first, or quarterfinal stage, matchups for its coveted “COPA COMBATE” one-night, eight-man, $100,000 grand prize bantamweight (135 pounds) tournament on Sunday, Dec. 12, live on Paramount+ from Miami, Fla.

Paramount+ live coverage of “COPA COMBATE” will begin with a pre-show at 9:30 p.m. ET/8:30 p.m. CT, and will continue with the live fight action, beginning at 10:00 p.m. ET/9:00 p.m. CT.

In one bracket, Carlos Briseño (13-2) of Mexico will face off with Cristian “El Scorpio” Barraza (7-3) of Chile, and Frans “The Zulu Irishman” Mlambo (10-5) of Ireland will battle Jose “The Mercenary” Zarauz (22-8-1) of Peru.

In the opposite bracket, Leo Muniz (6-1) of the U.S. will square off with Pierre “The French Hawaiian” Daguzan (6-5) of France, and Kevin Cordero (12-2) of Spain will collide with Luciano “El Aguila” Ramos (8-6) of Argentina.

The winners of the two quarterfinal bouts in each bracket will square off with each other in the semifinal stage of the tournament, and the two semifinal stage fight winners will face each other in the championship stage of action.

Carlos Briseño vs. Cristian Barraza

The 31-year-old Briseño of Mexico City holds a black belt in Tae Kwon Do, and is a member of the Bonebreakers fight camp.  He enters La Jaula, the Combate Global competition cage, on a two-fight win streak after earning a unanimous decision over Adam Martinez in what was Briseño’s Combate Global debut on October 1.

The 28-year-old Barraza of Santiago is a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu brown belt who has notched all 7 of his professional career wins by way of submission.  He is coming off of a first round (2:01) armbar submission of Mexico’s Diego Silva on October 22.

Frans Mlambo vs. Jose Zarauz

Mlambo, a 30-year-old protégé of famed trainer John Kavanagh and former International Mixed Martial Arts Federation (IMMAF) world championships gold medalist, will become the first fighter in history to represent Ireland in the “COPA COMBATE” tournament.  To date, Mlambo has produced 8 of his 10 career wins via (T)KO or submission, and will enter “COPA COMBATE” on a two-fight win streak.

Fighting out of Lima, the 28-year-old Zarauz holds the most professional experience of any of the “COPA COMBATE” tournament entrants, and will enter La Jaula for the second time in 2021 after securing a unanimous decision win over Fernando Noriega in a regional event in Peru on July 17.

Leo Muniz vs. Pierre Daguzan

The 31-year-old Muniz is a resident of Tobyhanna, Pa. and a native of The Bronx, N.Y.  He put together back-to-back victories over Team Alpha Male member Hector “El Matador” Fajardo on May 29 and August 13, respectively, to secure an entry to “COPA COMBATE.”

At 35 years of age, Daguzan, a native of Versailles, Yvelines and resident of Honolulu, Hawaii, is the eldest competitor in the tournament field.  He holds a purple belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and is coming off a unanimous decision win over Carlos Puente, Jr. in Combate Global action on July 16.

Kevin Cordero vs. Luciano Ramos

The 22-year-old Cordero of Las Palmas, Gran Canaria, is the number one pound-for-pound rising star out of Spain, and the youngest of the eight tournament entrants.  He has claimed 9 of his 12 professional wins via (T)KO or submission, including his last start and Combate Global debut on September 3, when he produced a first round (4:59) submission (triangle choke) of veteran battler Ricky Bandejas.

Ramos is a 25-year-old finisher who hails from Concordia, and who relocated to Stockton, Calif. last year in order to train with the team founded by famed MMA siblings Nick and Nate Diaz.  Since making the leap to the Diaz camp, Ramos, who has achieved six of eight career wins by way of (T)KO or submission, has been victorious in both of his MMA bouts in 2021, most recently defeating Keilen Fantroy via first round (1:54) submission (triangle choke) on July 31.

In two previously announced women’s bouts that will be featured on the “COPA COMBATE” card in addition to the tournament, Criszaida Adames (5-1) will throw down with Caroline “Taz” Gallardo (5-4) at strawweight (115 pounds), while Lucero “La Loba” Acosta (2-2) will square off with Rosselyn Chavira (1-0) at flyweight (125 pounds). 

The tournament will also be supported with two “reserve” bouts.  Should any of the tournament’s quarterfinal stage winners be unable to continue his bid in the semifinal stage due to injury, the winner of one of the tournament reserve bouts will replace the injured winner in the tournament’s semifinal stage.  

In one tournament reserve bout, Felipe “Pipe” Vargas (7-2) of San Jose, Calif. via Bogota, Colombia will take on unbeaten Diego “El Niño” Gomez Manzur (4-0) of Santiago, Chile and, in the second tournament reserve contest, Ricky Bandejas (14-6) of Brick, N.J. via Coconut Creek, Fla. will face Alan “Beche” Cantu (9-7) of Monterrey, N.L., Mexico.

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Jose “Froggy” Estrada headlines Combate Global Dec. 3 show against Martin Bravo

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Combate Global today announced a six-fight Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) event, live on Paramount+ on Friday, Dec. 3 from Miami, Fla. In the featherweight (145 pounds) main event, hard-hitting American star Jose “Froggy” Estrada (7-2) will square off with The Ultimate Fighter: Latin America 3 reality television series winner, Martin “El Toro” Bravo (12-3).
 
The 30-year-old Estrada of Oxnard, Calif. secured his career-best victory to date on July 2, defeating seasoned Nicaraguan star Leonardo “Chimmy” Morales by way of majority decision.
 
The result marked Estrada’s only victory to date that has gone to the judges’ scorecards.  All six of his other wins have come via (T)KO or submission within two rounds of action.
 
Hailing from Rosarito, B.C., Mexico and fighting out of Newton, N.J. the 28-year-old Bravo made his Combate Global debut in 2021, scoring a first round (1:09) TKO (punches) on veteran Andrew “The Beast” Whitney on September 17.
 
In a featured strawweight (115 pounds) contest, Stephanie “Macaquinha” Frausto (8-8) of Dublin, Calif. will face Camila Rivarola (3-3-1) of Montevideo, Uruguay via Stockholm, Sweden.
 
The other featured main card bout will pit Tommy “The Spaniard” Aaron (9-5) of Los Angeles, Calif. against Ivan “Choko” Castillo (21-13) of Ensenada, B.C., Mexico at welterweight (170 pounds).
 
In preliminary card action, Jonathan Sepulveda (9-3) of Isabela, Puerto Rico will throw down with Adrian Garcia (6-1) of Miami, Fla. at a catchweight of 130 pounds.
 
“Slick” Rick Zelada (1-0) of Los Angeles will meet Gustavo “Volcan” Navarrete (0-1) of Chandler, Ariz. at bantamweight (135 pounds).
 
Elizabeth Avila (0-2) of Mexico City, Mexico will look for her first professional victory in an atomweight (105 pounds) fight against Tamika Jones (0-0) of Las Vegas, Nev.

Paramount+ live coverage will begin with a Combate Global pre-show at 10:30 p.m. ET/9:30 p.m. CT, and will continue with the live fight action, beginning at 11:00 p.m. ET/10:00 p.m. CT.
 

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Sergio Pettis looking to follow in his brother Anthony’s footsteps and earn two belts

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Sergio Pettis won the Bellator Bantamweight World Championship belt opposite Juan Archuleta back in May. He will defend his belt for the first time against Kyoji Horiguchi at Bellator 272 on December 3rd.

The younger Pettis has big plans and wants to match his brother’s legacy. Anthony Pettis captured WEC and UFC in his long and storied career, but Sergio feels there is space on the mantel place for a belt from an Asian promotion (he spoke to MMA Fighting about the defense and his dreams).

“I think it would be a great opportunity for me to cross-promote,” Sergio Pettis said of an overseas move. “Anthony has a WEC belt and a UFC belt, and it would be awesome to have a Bellator belt and Rizin belt as well, to have all the belts in all the organizations – it would feel like a completion.”

Horiguchi has done some cross promotion with Bellator and actually took the belt from Darrion Caldwell before vacating and going back to Rizin. In Sergio’s eyes he holds the true belt because The Gooch injured his knee and could not defend the Bellator belt and by the time he healed up he was back in Rizin again. This is a welcome fight for Pettis who feels this fight will be the capturing of the true belt.

“I feel like the title in general is on the line. I think this is a fight where it’s really going to show who has the real championship in my division.”

The Rizin belt isn’t on the line, but Pettis does not rule some cross promotion at Flyweight or Bantamweight.

“It would be an honor to go overseas and get that opportunity,” he said. “But as of right now, my main focus is next week. I’m not looking ahead of Horiguchi at all. This is one of my toughest fights.”

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