Dana White Announces UFC Contract Winners | Week 5 – Contender Series Season 5
For the second time this season, we were down to only four fights on Dana White’s Contender Series, but after the opening week of the season produced fireworks despite a reduced number of bouts, expectations were high that the Week 5 slate could do the same.
And they did.
Two finishes and two entertaining 15-minute battles produced a couple more additions to the UFC roster, as undefeated lightweight Daniel Zellhuber and light heavyweight underdog Ihor Potieria got the call to the Octagon, bringing the total number of contracts awarded so far this season to 21.
Here’s a closer look at how things played out inside the cage on Tuesday night.
Lucasz Sudolski vs Ihor Potieria
Official Result: Ihor Potieria def. Lukasz Sudolski by TKO (punches) at 3:41 of Round 1
Sudolski opened by attacking the inside lead leg of Potieria, but he was quickly forced to look to clinch as Potieria fired back with powerful shots that got Sudolski’s attention. They traded short, sharp shots to the body inside the clinch, taking turns with their backs on the fence before a low blow paused the action momentarily.
Sudolski apologized on the restart and the light heavyweights worked their way right back to where they were, twisting each other back-and-forth along the fence, neither man able to gain a clear advantage or connect with anything too sharp in tight. But when they broke into space, Potieria quickly chased Sudolski down with long punches, a right hand knocking him to the ground.
The follow up blows came quickly and with precision, prompting referee Jason Herzog to call a halt to the action.
Just an outstanding finish for Ihor Potieria and a tremendous way to close out Week 5 on the Contender Series.
Caio Borralho vs Aaron Jeffery
Official Result: Caio Borralho def. Aaron Jeffery by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
Borralho came out as the aggressor, working from the southpaw stance and offering a high kick early. Jeffery shifted to pressing forward and eventually managed to get inside, eating a couple shots as he tried to close the distance before finally putting Borralho’s back against the fence momentarily.
The Canadian got back to that position quickly and the duo exchanged knees along the wall, with Borralho reversing the position before they broke into space with 90 seconds remaining in the round. As Jeffery came forward, Borralho elevated in place and landed the jump knee he’d been looking for all round, but Jeffery wore it well, continuing to press forward, even as the Brazilian continued to outland him at a significant clip.
As the two men circled each other in the center to start the second round, Borralho quickly changed levels and drove through a takedown attempt, though Jeffery was able to work back to his feet and into space without taking any damage. The Canadian resumed his forward pressure and almost ate another flying knee, but this time, he was able to get into the clinch, only to have Borralho dig an undertook and work off the fence.
Midway through the round, Jeffery once again crashed forward and closed the distance, getting Borralho up against the fence, hunting for takedowns, only for the Brazilian to put Jeffery on the deck momentarily. Once they stood up, Jeffery was right back into the clinch, showing impressive resiliency and determination, eating knees in tight while continuing to struggle to execute any real sustained offence.
After a touch of gloves and show of respect to start the round, Jeffery picked up where he left off to end the second, putting Borralho against the fence once more, only to have the Brazilian defend the takedown attempt and circle into space. As they returned to the clinch following a brief separation, Borralho once again dumped Jeffery to the floor, controlling the clinch position as they returned to their feet.
Jeffery showed increased urgency as the clock ticked down to two minutes remaining in the round, trying to throw more volume and land something sharp, attacking with elbows over the top on the clinch. But nothing crisp landed and Borralho defended well, tying up the Canadian through to the final horn.
This was a smooth, technical effort from Borralho and the judges rewarded him properly, handing him a well-earned unanimous decision victory.
Lucas Almeida vs Daniel Zellhuber
Official Result: Daniel Zellhuber def. Lucas Almeida by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
The unbeaten lightweights wasted no time getting after it, with Almeida immediately closing the distance and taking the fight to Zellhuber, wading through some return fire to hit the 22-year-old Mexican with a series of clean, crisp punches. Zellhuber wisely initiated the clinch, but as soon as they broke into space, Almeida was right back in his grill, connecting with heavy right hands that again prompted Zellhuber to grab onto the Brazilian and get a bit of a break.
Once again, they broke into space and Almeida continued to attack, with Zellhuber doing a slightly better job of returning fire and throwing combinations, settling in a little more while still getting touched up. Just when Zellhuber seemed to be starting to claim a bit of the momentum, Almeida fired back, connecting with a couple more clean shots right before the horn.
They got right back after it on the restart, with Almeida again coming forward, only for Zellhuber to initiate a clinch sooner and drive the Brazilian to the canvas, settling into top position and starting to get off some heavy shots. A technical mistake gave Almeida the space he needed to scurry back to his feet, but when he did, it was clear his pace had slowed, as Zellhuber was able to have more success countering, using his range and quickness to control the striking and dictating the terms of engagement.
While Almeida still found a home for the odd shot, Zellhuber handled them far better than he did in the first and responded with much greater frequency and fire, adding a question mark kick in to showcase the full depth of his arsenal, his confidence growing to the point that he was taunting Almeida in the waning seconds of the round.
Both men came out throwing to start the third with Zellhuber maintaining the momentum he captured in the second — connecting with far greater frequency while avoiding much of what Almeida offered in return. The 22-year-old continued to stalk Almeida, his pace and output slowing, but his accuracy and his defensive movements remaining sharp.
Down the stretch Zellhuber got a little flashy, taunting Almeida, connecting with a spinning back kick and beautiful check left hook as he completed an impressive comeback after being on the business end of things in the opening round.
The judges were called on to render a decision, but there was no uncertainty of what the cards would reveal, with Zellhuber collecting a unanimous decision victory, pushing his winning streak to an even dozen while handing Almeida the first defeat of his career.
Rizvan Kuniev vs Edivan Santos
Official Result: Rizvan Kuniev def. Edivan Santos by TKO (ground and pound) at 1:00 of Round 3
The big fellas touched gloves and then started firing in Tuesday’s opener, with Santos getting the better of things in space early, cracking Kuniev with a pair of clean right hands that backed the fighter from Dagestan up. After shaking it off and getting a little more settled, Kuniev worked to secure the clinch, driving Santos into the fence before an inadvertent knee to the groin from Kuniev brought the fight to a momentary pause.
As soon as they restarted, Santos’ outstretched finger grazed Kuniev’s eye, pausing the action again.
Level at one foul each, Kuniev pressed forward on the second restart, crashing home heavy outside kicks to the thigh and initiating the clinch once more, finally chaining together a takedown attempt to put Santos on the canvas. The Brazilian reversed the position with a kimura sweep, scurrying to his feet and feeding Kuniev a knee to the body as he stood before the 28-year-old betting favorite put Santos back on the fence for the remainder of the round.
Kuniev opened the second offering a variety of kicks, closing the distance and working into the clinch without much pushback. Santos went searching with long punches when they broke into space, but came up empty, prompting Kuniev to close the distance once again and grind out more time on the fence.
The heavyweights began to fall into a pattern a couple minutes into the round, with Kuniev working into the clinch, Santos fighting his way off the fence, and Kuniev quickly pressing forward again. Midway through the round, the Eagle FC titleholder elevated Santos into the air and sent him crashing to the canvas, landing in side control, only to have the Brazilian go hunting for a kimura sweep again, forcing Kuniev to reset his pressure and settle back into top position, finishing the round pummelling Santos with heavy punches.
Kuniev called Santos in to begin the third, but before the Brazilian could take a forward step, Kuniev put a two-piece in his mush, closed the distance, and used a body lock takedown to put Santos on the canvas. As soon as Kuniev opened up with ground-and-pound, Santos rolled and covered up, prompting referee Mark Smith to quickly step in and stop the fight.
It was a bit of a slow start, but once Kuniev settled in, the talented 28-year-old showed he’s an intriguing potential addition to the heavyweight division.