Dana White’s Contender Series Season 7, Week 8 Recap
Dana White’s Contender Series (DWCS) Season 7, Week 8 was one of the best in the history of the show. The event resulted in two of the best fights in the history of the series and two incredible first-round knockouts. In fairness, one of the bouts was terrible, but neither fighter earned a contract so we can pretend like it never happened.
At the end of the night, UFC CEO Dana White handed out six contracts. Yes, SIX contracts! The four impressive winners all earned a contract along with two losers. Typically, losers do not get contracts, but if you lose in one of the best fights in DWCS history, White makes exceptions.
Now, it is time to evaluate which fighters have the highest potential in the UFC. This is not a direct reflection of their DWCS performance; rather, it is a projection of how they will perform in the UFC.
Danny Barlow (Welterweight)
Danny “LeftHand2God” Barlow looked outstanding in his DWCS bout. No, that is not a typo. Barlow’s nickname is actually LeftHand2God. After watching his fight, it’s a pretty fitting nickname. Barlow put his left hand to good use as he knocked out Raheam Forest in the first round.
Despite getting the job done quickly, Barlow showed a lot of great traits. That begins with his athleticism. It is rare that MMA fighters are this athletic. That athleticism is combined with a 6-foot-2 frame and 80-inch reach.
Barlow uses his athleticism and length to land his left hand from the southpaw stance. That shot comes straight down the pipe and it lands hard. If that was not enough, he landed it as a perfectly timed countershot on one occasion Once he had Forest on the ropes, he used his length and power to throw a left to the body to finish the fight. It was a great display of striking.
It is also worth noting that Barlow looked good in the clinch. Once he had Forest wobbled, he went to the clinch to land knees and dirty box. Those are both solid finishing tactics and it was nice to see the depth of his skill set.
Barlow also deserves respect for taking out legitimate competition. Forest is a solid opponent and may break into the UFC down the line. Barlow was not crushing a can in this bout.
I am excited to see Barlow transition to the UFC. At 28, he has a lot of time on his hands. The upside is there as well. I think Barlow needs to reel in his skills. It would suit him to be more technical. That is not to say he is not technical, but he could take a step forward in that aspect. Regardless, talent, athleticism, and power are present. As of right now, I would classify Barlow as one of the top prospects for this season. At worst, I would place him in the top three.
Vinicius Oliveira (Bantamweight)
Vinicius Oliveira was the other fighter to get a first-round finish on DWCS. Oliveira brutally knocked out Victor Madrigal to earn a UFC contract.
Oliveira is the definition of a fun striker. This guy throws with knockout intentions and he has a variety of flashy weapons in his bag. The most evident was his spinning wheel kick.
Oliveira showed some positives from a technical perspective too. I was impressed with his stance-switching and liked how he utilized angles to land punches.
This is usually the part of the post when I explain that Oliveira beat up a horrible fighter, fights too aggressively and will be hit with counterstrikes in the UFC. That is true, but I think he can make it work.
Oliveira has a lot of red flags that I do not like in DWCS prospects. I am going to set them aside in this instance. The main reason for that is that Oliveira has more accuracy and power than most fighters with that type of style. It also felt like he had a better process and was a touch smarter than comparable fighters.
This season of DWCS has quite a few entertaining fighters that appear to be wild cards. I think this is the wild card that I am most optimistic about. In the bantamweight division, it looks like his power will be a serious threat and he showed solid traits alongside his wildness.
I would classify Oliveira as a high-upside and low-floor prospect who could eventually work his way into the rankings.
Danny Silva (Featherweight)
Danny Silva earned his DWCS contract by going to war with Angel Pacheco. This bout was one of the best fights in DWCS history. To summarize the bout, Silva and Pacheco stood directly in each other’s faces while throwing combinations to the head and body. It was pure madness for 15 minutes.
This fight was so insane that White opted to give both fighters contracts; however, neither fighter was in attendance when that was announced because they were both transported to the hospital. It was that type of fight.
At the end of the fight, Silva was rightfully deemed the winner. The power shots were to his advantage and he did much more damage.
I am not sure what to make of Silva. It is hard to gauge how talented a fighter is in a war. I am not sure this will consistently be his fighting style. I do think he has great cardio, good power and a decent mix of boxing with elbows.
I am not overly high on Silva. It does not help that we did not see him kick or grapple. Still, I have a hard time projecting him as a great UFC fighter. At 26-years-old, I do not like his current abilities or potential upside. I think he can use his physical tools to get UFC wins, but it is hard to see him make a run toward the rankings.
Carli Judice (Women’s Flyweight)
Carli Judice and Ernesta Karackaite had an all-time great fight of their own on DWCS. I think one of these two fighters was throwing a strike from the second this fight started to the moment it ended. At the end of the fight, these two combined to land over 350 significant strikes. That is an absurd amount.
Karackaite was ruled the winner, but I actually have Judice ranked higher. In fairness, Judice and Karackaite have virtually equal chances to make an impact in the UFC so we are splitting hairs.
I prefer Judice because she was the fighter who landed the powerful strikes. I also thought she was attempting to be more educated while Karackaite was just trying to throw as much as humanly possible.
Judice also showed some good clinch striking and made the decision to attack in the clinch. I view those as positives.
Ultimately, I am giving Judice the benefit of the doubt because she has had a lot going against her. At this point, she has practically no experience, she is 23-years-old with a 3-0 record and has only been training for two-and-a-half years. If that was not enough, she took this fight on a week’s notice. Those are all factors that lead me to believe she will improve in the UFC.
I am not positive that Judice will be a great UFC fighter. I am willing to bet she will struggle. In all honesty, it would not have killed her to get more experience. If she can ride out the initial rough waves, she may find success down the road.
Ernesta Kareckaite (Women’s Flyweight)
Let’s flip over to Kareckaite. Despite her being victorious on DWCS, I am less optimistic about her UFC future.
I’ll start with the positives. Karackaite did show unrealistic cardio and an iron chin. It is crazy that she was not hurt at any moment in this bout. It is even crazier she did not get tired from constantly throwing strikes and walking forward.
My biggest issue with Kareckaite is her size. I usually speak glowingly about lengthy fighters. I cannot this time. Kareckaite is 5-foot-9 and brutally thin. I am not sure how she will defend a takedown. Obviously, we have seen skinny fighters utilize their size in the past, but she has nearly no muscle. I do not think she will be able to grapple at a UFC level.
I also find it unrealistic that Kareckaite will manage to throw north of 300 strikes every time she fights. That is just unrealistic. On top of that, the volume and power did not wear on Judice as much as you would expect.
Personally, I think Kareckaite’s DWCS performance will be deemed as more of an outlier than a consistent outcome. That sounds strange considering she is only 25-years-old.
Nevertheless, I doubt she can fight that like in the UFC.
Angel Pacheco (Featherweight)
DWCS Season 7, Week 8 ends with Pacheco. As we discussed, Pacheco was one-half an absurd fight which earned him a contract.
Pachedo has a hall-of-fame-worthy chin. I have no idea how he managed to stay on his feet for three rounds. Pacheco has more chin and toughness than a good portion of the UFC roster. That can not be disputed.
The issue with Pacheco is that we learned he had an absurd chin and a massive heart. Ideally, I’d prefer prospects not to get the crap beat out of them for three rounds and earn a contract because they were tough.
I just do not see UFC-level skill with Pacheco. This is mainly because his defense is atrocious. I could only imagine what a quality featherweight striker would do to him. The only way Pacheco will ever win a UFC fight is if his opponent gasses out while hitting him in the face.
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