Dana White’s Contender Series Post-fight Press Conference | Week 6
Last week, Dana White welcomed two fighters to the UFC roster — light heavyweight Ihor Poteiria and lightweight Daniel Zellhuber — and it felt like a surprise; not because of the two names he added, but because it was just two out of the four victorious fighters.
The last time less than three fighters emerged from an episode having been given the opportunity to pursue their dreams inside the Octagon was the penultimate episode of Season 3, when “The Fresh Prince,” Phil Rowe, was the lone fighter to get the call to compete on the biggest stage in the sport.
Over the next 15 episodes, three or more fighters matriculated to the UFC, including 19 fighters from 18 bouts to begin Season Five, before last week’s shift in pattern.
This week, it was back to what has been the norm for the majority of the last two-plus seasons, as the UFC President doled out four more contracts, bringing lightweight Genaro Valdez, Fernie Garcia, Carlos Hernandez, and Mike Malott into the fold. He also announced that middleweight winner Joseph Holmes would fight on the upcoming Fury FC card in Colorado that will be featured on Lookin’ for a Fight, giving him a chance to make another impression on the UFC brass and secure an invite to the Octagon.
Here’s a look at how the action played out.
Shimon Smotritsky vs Mike Malott
Official Result: Mike Malott def. Shimon Smotritsky by submission (guillotine choke) at 0:39 of Round 1
Both men came out throwing kicks and trying to find their range with their hands. When he reached forward with two lunging punches that missed, Smotritsky dropped his head and Malott immediately jumped on the guillotine choke, adjusting his grip to secure the tap just 39 seconds into the opening stanza.
Team Alpha Male fighters have always been known for having nasty guillotines and Malott showed that he’s got one too. Just a dominant finish for the Canadian.
Daniel Barez vs Carlos Hernandez
Official Result: Carlos Hernandez def. Daniel Barez by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
Barez pressed forward to start, with Hernandez moving laterally on the edges as the Spanish fighter looked to open up and immediately take control of the fight. Hernandez got his back off the fence and started attacking more, darting in to land shots before shuffling back out of range, catching Barez with a left hook as he looked to jump in with a knee.
The flyweights started getting a little more loose with their hands two minutes in, both fighters offering more offense and working multiple levels, digging shots to the body as well as targeting the head through the midway point of the round. Hernandez grabbed a single leg and pushed Barez into the fence, but couldn’t complete, with Barez looking for a guillotine choke that wasn’t there.
As they broke into space, Hernandez landed a flush knee that Barez somehow ate, and the ‘25s just stayed after it, both men working at a steady clip wherever the action was situated. Late in the round, Barez elevated Hernandez for a big takedown and climbed onto his back, attacking a neck crank through to the horn.
Terrific round from the flyweights!
It was back to full go to start the second, as Barez came forward. Hernandez responded by working inside, and each man landed solid shots. Barez cracked Hernandez with a right hand that backed him up to the fence, looking for space, only for Hernandez to drop Barez with a right of his own as he came hunting for more.
The two quickly hit the canvas, with Barez attacking an inverted triangle choke, but he got too aggressive and lost the position, resulting in Hernandez scrambling to side control. From there, the Chicago-based fighter took the back and flattened the Spaniard out, searching for a rear-naked choke. Barez defended well and it became a cat-and-mouse on the canvas, with Barez looking to neutralize Hernandez’s attacks and Hernandez trying to punch his way to openings.
With a minute left in the round, Barez scrambled back to his feet, but Hernandez remained the aggressor, only for the Spanish flyweight to change levels and hit a double leg takedown, finishing the round getting a breather inside Hernandez’s full guard.
Barez landed a clean right hand to start the third and looked to take the fight to Hernandez, buckling Barez with a left hand less than a minute in. Once more, Hernandez attacked with a flying knee that allowed him to work into the clinch, only for Barez to easily break free into space.
An accidental finger to the eye brought things to a pause as referee Chris Tognoni checked on Hernandez, who was good to continue.
On the restart, Hernandez tried to come forward, but each time he did, Barez cracked him with a check hook counter, timing a level-change right before the midway point of the frame. Just as soon as Hernandez got up and out into space, Barez dropped down again, driving him backward and to the canvas.
Hernandez kicked his way free and the two broke into space, with Barez chasing the takedown and getting stuffed. After landing a few punches, Hernandez went for a takedown of his own, which he couldn’t complete. Barez tried once again and Hernandez denied it, taking the fight to the Spaniard on the feet over the final 20 seconds.
This was an entertaining, fast-paced flyweight battle where both men had positive moments. For the first time this evening, the judges were called upon to determine the winner, and when the scores were tallied, the judges were split, with Hernandez landing on the happy side of the verdict.
Joshua Weems vs Fernie Garcia
Official Result: Fernie Garcia def. Joshua Weems by TKO (punches) at 2:10 of Round 1
Weems came out showing his quickness and diverse weapons, chopping at the lead leg and throwing hands behind them, spinning Garcia around with a couple kicks before running into a counter right as he looked to close the distance.
After breaking off the fence, Garcia stalked forward, backing Weems up and hitting him with a right hand behind the ear that sent him tumbling to the canvas. The follow-up blows came hot and heavy and referee Herb Dean stepped in to stop it, giving Fernie Garcia the first-round finish and a fifth straight victory.
Shonte Barnes vs Joseph Holmes
Official Result: Joseph Holmes def. Shonte Barnes by submission (rear-naked choke) at 2:46 of Round 2
The middleweights took the opening minute to feint and feel each other out, Barnes working out of a southpaw stance, while Holmes looked for openings from the orthodox position. After the first minute, Holmes started letting go with his strikes a little more, throwing long kicks and punches at the much shorter Barnes before the two clashed heads, bringing the fight to a momentary pause as referee Chris Tognoni checked on both fighters.
On the restart, Barnes attacked with a body kick, but Holmes quickly responded by closing the distance and looking to grapple, controlling the clinch along the fence, landing knees and looking to drag Barnes to the mat. Barnes showed good takedown defense, keeping things upright, leading to the two breaking into space.
Both continued attacking with kicks and the occasional punch, each having modest success before Barnes changed levels looking for a takedown, only to have Holmes stuff it, reverse position along the fence, and land a knee to the body right before the horn.
Barnes came out as the aggressor to start the second, backing up Holmes with reaching punches, taking the fight to the taller man, only to have Holmes respond with a body kick that echoed throughout the venue. Barnes responded with two of his own before Holmes worked into the clinch behind a long jab, quickly taking the fight to the canvas.
Holmes immediately took the back and secured a body triangle, fishing for a rear-naked choke and settling for a neck crank, drawing a tap out of Barnes to secure the victory.
“Uglyman Joe” looked solid here, playing to his strength in the second round to secure the finish and extending his winning streak to seven.
Patrik White vs Genaro Valdez
Official Result: Genaro Valdez def. Patrik White by TKO (punches) at 0:44 of Round 2
The opener took a little longer to get going than expected as White needed to return to the locker room to put on his cup and get his mouthguard, but once the action got started, the lightweights got after it.
White came out firing, forcing Valdez to grapple, with the Entram Gym fighter taking him to the canvas and controlling him with a waist lock through the opening minute. A brief break into space gave both men the opportunity to let loose with their strikes, and despite connecting with a couple good shots, Valdez looked to wrestle again.
For the third straight time, White quickly bounced back up to his feet, only for Valdez to chase a rear-naked choke. He got too aggressive and couldn’t seal the deal, but continued to take the fight to the wild Alaskan competitor, dislodging his gumshield while the two swung heavy hooks.
Valdez again took the fight to the canvas and rained down elbows from top position, but this time, White was able to reverse the position and have some success of his own. Late in the frame, White took it to Valdez, busting him up with big swings as both men battled exhaustion through to the horn.
What an absolutely insane round!
Out of the break to start the second, the lightweights picked up right where they left off at the end of the first, with White serving as the aggressor, taking the fight to Valdez. But once again, the momentum shifted, as Valdez sent White’s mouthguard flying for a second time with a counter left hook, chasing him down and dropping him with another two-piece that landed flush.
Just an absolutely chaotic opener where both men got after it and left it all in the Octagon.