Dana White’s Contender Series Post-fight Press Conference | Week 10
Following Week 10 of Dana White’s Contender Series hear the UFC President and UFC contract winners field questions from the media at the post-fight press conference.
Another season on Dana White’s Contender Series came to a close on Tuesday night as the final five pairs of athletes made their way into the cage at the UFC Apex in hopes of impressing the UFC President and earning an opportunity to compete inside the Octagon.
There have already been a record-tying 37 contracts awarded through nine weeks this season, and one of those athletes, Albert Duraev, has already picked up his first UFC victory, having earned a unanimous decision win over Roman Kopylov last week during Abu Dhabi Showdown Week at UFC 267.
Tuesday night, a new record was established, but it wasn’t as high as many might have expected going in, as only two fighters earned contracts, with welterweight Yohan Lainesse and Chinese lightweight Maheshate getting the call, bringing the total for the season to 39 new additions.
Here’s a look at how the action played out.
Maheshate Maheshate vs Achilles Estremadura
Official Result: Maheshate def. Achilles Estremadura by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
There was no feeling out process with these two as Maheshate shot across the cage and the duo traded in tight, with the Chinese fighter landing a clean shot that staggered Estremadura momentarily. The Canadian shook it off quickly and came forward, connecting with a heavy right hand on the end of a flurry that sat Maheshate down along the fence, prompting him to clinch.
Back in space, Estremadura controlled the center, walking down Maheshate as he circled on the outside before closing the distance and catching him again with another heavy right hand. They clinched along the fence and when they broke, Maheshate landed a nice knee to the head before taking the center. Maheshate attacked with a series of kicks, nothing landing with much force, before Estremadura again pressed forward behind wide hooks, landing sharply and finishing the round with a good left hook to the body.
The lightweights were a little more patient to start the second, feeling each other out a little more to start before engaging in another exchange where each man flashed their hands and their chins. Estremadura took the center and looked to dictate the terms of engagement, but Maheshate did well to push forward and stand his ground.
The output slowed, but the effectiveness remained high, as neither man threw many wasted shots, with Estremadura picking his spots and initiating a little more. With a little over a minute remaining, Maheshate pressed forward and connected flush with a jumping knee that Estremadura ate before clinching, crimson leaking from his nose as they battled for position along the fence before separating for the final 10 seconds of the round.
Maheshate was the more aggressive of the two coming out of the corner, but it was Estremadura who landed the better shot to start, sticking the jab in the Chinese fighters face. But Maheshate was undeterred, responding with a kick to the body and attempting another flying knee, getting a little loose and feeling himself a bit more.
Estremadura struggled to build anything through the first half of the round, throwing singles and getting worked backwards by Maheshate each time he looked to fire. Down the stretch, Maheshate continued to snipe at Estremadura, countering everything the Canadian had to offer and attacking with some stylish moves, including a stepping back elbow, closing out the contest in control.
Yohan Lainesse vs Justin Burlinson
Official Result: Yohan Lainasse def. Justin Burlinson by KO (left hook) at 1:37 of Round 1
The welterweights got after it straight away, with Lainesse throwing a high kick before changing levels, only for Burlinson to look for a guillotine. Lainesse escaped and landed in top position, with the Brit initiating a scramble immediately, chaining through submission attempts and forcing the Quebec native to defend.
Back on their feet in the center of the Octagon, the two men each looked to fire off power shots and Lainesse connected with a cracking left hook!
The sequence was reminiscent of the finish in the fight between Carlos Condit and Dan Hardy 11 years ago at UFC 120 in London, with a little sloppier technique and far more post-fight shouting and celebrating from Lainesse than there was from “The Natural Born Killer.”
What a massive finish for Yohan Lainesse!
Qiu Lun vs Erisson Ferreira da Silva
Official Result: Erisson Ferreira da Silva def. Qiu Lun by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Less than 30 second into the contest, Qiu caught a kick and dumbed da Silva to the canvas, allowing him back to his feet before sitting him down with a clean left hand in the center of the cage. Qiu backed off and called da Silva back to the feet, continuing to pressure with heavy inside leg kicks while da Silva looked to counter with heavy, wide shots. The flyweights opted to bite down on their gumshields and trade, each landing big shots in the pocket, prompting Qiu to change levels and look for a takedown along the fence.
The Brazilian grabbed a guillotine, but Qiu escaped without issue, circling back into space for the final two minutes of the round. Da Silva looked to land with a flying attack, but missed, giving Qiu the chance to put him on the canvas and work from top position. The Brazilian got back to his feet quickly and went on the offensive, catching Qiu with a right hand that had him wobbling, causing him to shoot for a panicked takedown that was easily stuffed.
Just a tremendously entertaining opening five minutes from these flyweights.
Both men were a little more patient and timid to start the second, neither really committing to anything sharp until nearly two minutes in, when Qiu caught a kick and dumped da Silva to the canvas. The Brazilian quickly scrambled to his feet and looked to land big single shots, only for Qiu to defend or evade, landing a couple clean strikes of his own, including a beautiful left hand down the pipe and a side kick that caused da Silva to stumble backwards.
Da Silva just missed with a powerful right of his own with 90 seconds remaining, and Qiu countered with a right hook that staggered “Gato” momentarily. Each time da Silva looked to land one of his own, Qiu responded with a cleaner, heavier blow.
Both men came out swinging to start the third, with da Silva showing greater urgency and aggression, closing the distance and putting Qiu on the deck less than a minute in, settling into his guard. The Brazilian briefly looked at an arm triangle choke, but gave up on it, allowing Qiu to create a scramble when he landed in top position, working towards a D’Arce choke of his own before letting it go and returning to the center for the final half of the round.
Qiu pressed in for a lazy takedown attempt and da Silva attacked a guillotine, briefly switching to a ninja choke, but he couldn’t complete. Qiu managed to get da Silva off his back and return to his feet, but da Silva remained the aggressor and more accurate of the two with his strikes. Once more, Qiu worked forward for a lazy takedown and da Silva dove on a guillotine, with Qiu patiently riding out the round, giving referee Mike Beltran the thumbs up before the final horn.
This was a fun, action-packed fight from these two flyweights, and when the scores were tabulated, the judges were unanimous in how they saw it, awarding Erisson Ferreira da Silva the unanimous decision victory.
Jonas Bilharinho vs Canaan Kawaihae
Official Result: Jonas Bilharinho def. Canaan Kawaihae by TKO (spinning hook kick) at 4:00 of Round 3
Kawaihae closed the distance initially and opened with a kick, slipping as he threw, but getting up without issue. Bilharinho looked to work forward behind long strikes, but Kawaihae evaded the attacks and grabbed the clinch, pressing the Brazilian into the fence. Bilharinho landed a couple knees off the fence, with Kawaihaei answering in kind, keeping the lanky Brazilian on the wall, dealing with the Hawaiian’s weight and pressure.
Bilharinho landed a short elbow on the break, but failed to follow up, with Kawaihae landing a pair of outside low kicks as they moved back to the center, throwing sporadic shots without connecting on anything serious to the horn.
Kawaihae closed the distance to start again, walking through a heavy body kick from Bilharinho to look for a takedown, only for the Brazilian to successfully defend and break free. Each man was content to throw single shots, looking to land one blow before resetting, neither finding a real home for anything sharp. Midway through the round, Kawaihae got inside and changed levels, working up to a body lock before they each hit the other with a knee below the belt, resulting in the rare instance where both men needed time to recover.
Bilharinho recovered more quickly and they finally clapped the action back in after nearly two and a half minutes, with Kawaihae showing a little more urgency on the restart, chasing Bilharinho across the cage, landing a heavy kick and working back into the clinch. Bilharinho worked free and landed an elbow on the break once more, but continued throwing singles, landing a good kick to the body, but failing to follow it up.
He started to get a little more active in the final minute, connecting with another body kick and a couple good punches as they two stood in the pocket, chirping with one another to the buzzer.
The combatants shared a warm embrace in the center to start the third round, with the Brazilian showing a little more urgency out of the gate, throwing a little more frequently as Kawaihae looked to walk him down. While the Hawaiian continued to march forward, the Brazilian frequently circled out, landing counters until Kawaihae again got his hands on Bilharinho on the fence.
Bilharinho broke into space at the midway point of the round and continued to flash his speed and skill, picking at Kawaihae with single shots that landed clean, but had nothing else behind them, resulting in the Hawaiian never being forced backward. Late in the round, Bilharinho connected with a flush spinning hook kick that took Kawaihae off his feet, ending the contest instantly.
It took nearly 14 minutes, but the Brazilian finally connected with the telling blow he’d been looking for all fight, ending the contest in impressive fashion.
Shang Zhifa vs Juan Puerta
Official Result: Juan Puerta def. Shang Zhifa by split decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
The flyweights spent the opening couple minutes feinting and feeling each other out at range, neither man really throwing much of anything before Puerta caught a kick and put Shang on the canvas, settling into his guard. Shang did a good job trying up Puerta and minimizing damage, while the American Top Team representative controlled from top position.
Late in the frame, Puerta worked to advance, but Shang created space and got back to his feet, only to eat a couple knees for his troubles. Shang caught another knee attempt and dumped Puerta to the deck, riding out the remainder of the round tied up in half guard.
Shang came out looking to close the distance to start, putting Puerta on the canvas just over 30 seconds into the second round, quickly advancing to the back, looking to trap the right arm as he sunk his second hook. Puerta remained patient and Shang fell off over the top, resulting in Puerta landing in top position. Shang looked to land some short punches off his back as Puerta was content to hang out in top position, drawing an urging to work from referee Mike Beltran.
As Shang looked to stand, Puerta floated to his back, sinking his near hook and landing short shots as he worked to flatten out the Chinese fighter, setting his second hook with just over a minute to go. Elbows and punches came from Puerta, but Shang did a good job of controlling the wrists, limiting the offence and damage to close out the round.
Shang closed the distance to start the final round, coming in behind wide, looping shots, while Puerta just moved laterally, looking to avoid getting clipped, but throwing little in return. Shang worked into the clinch with three minutes remaining in the round, but Puerta quickly reversed off the fence and broke into space, content to move on the outside, biting on Shang’s feints.
Shang continued coming forward, winging hard shots, looking for a finish and connecting with sporadic blows, getting into the clinch with a minute remaining in the contest. Puerta worked free and Shang stayed after him, hunting for a big shot right through to the final horn, closing things out as the aggressor.
The tens and nines were tallied and when the totals were added up, the judges were split, with Juan Puerta coming away with the split decision victory, extending his winning streak to 12 in the process.