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Dana White’s Contender Series Season 7, Week 10 Recap

Dana White's Contender Series DWCS

(David Yeazell-USA TODAY Sports)

Dana White's Contender Series DWCS
(David Yeazell-USA TODAY Sports)

Dana White’s Contender Series Season 7, Week 10 Recap

Dana White’s Contender Series (DWCS) Season 7, Week 10 saw five fighters earn UFC contracts. The season finale produced great results and left us with some intriguing prospects to discuss. Let’s discuss each of the newest UFC fighters and figure out which has the most potential. We will begin with the most promising fighters and work our way down.

Andre Lima–Flyweight

The top spot for DWCS Season 7, Week 10, was a difficult choice. That is simply because we had several impressive prospects that are worthy of praise. Ultimately, I have to crown Andre Lima as my favorite prospect from this week, who earned a decision win over Rickson Zenidim to earn his UFC deal.

Let’s get the obvious out of the way: This fight was awful. It was basically Zenidim running from Lima for three rounds. That is not something that I love to say either. It is an unfortunate reality, however. Although, the reason for that is clear. Zenidim was uninterested in exchanging because of Lima’s power.

Lima deserves credit here because he made Zenidim hesitant. Lima had quick hands that dealt damage and he had quick kicks. If Zenidim was not cautious, he would likely have been knocked out.

Furthermore, Lima’s defense was great. If Zenidim threw a strike, Lima blocked or countered every time. If he attempted to wrestle, Lima out-grappled him. Zenidim ran out of paths to victory fast.

Lima is a 24-year-old with seven professional MMA fights. It is not common to see a fighter at the age and experience level fight with that level of skill while being well-rounded. I can only imagine what he will look like at age 30.

Lima has serious potential to become a highly-ranked flyweight. It is safe to place Lima in the top tier of prospects from this season of DWCS.

Marquel Mederos–Lightweight

Marquel Mederos cemented himself as a great prospect with his DWCS performance. The lightweight finished his bout with a well-timed knee to knock Issa Isakov.

Mederos’ performance began with his takedown defense. Isakov came out with a wrestle-heavy takedown, but Mederos used hand fighting, cage positioning, and balance to stay on his fight. I would not say he has elite takedown defense, but several positive traits were shown.

In striking exchanges, Mederos looked great. This is because he used stance switches, kept Isakov backed up and had a good variety of tools. Mederos’ activity and willingness to show different looks quickly confused Isakov.

Mederos will be able to strike in the UFC lightweight division. The hand speed and kicks will serve him well. At 26-years-old, it is reasonable to expect improvements too. Personally, I would hope to see those improvements come in striking defense and takedown defense. Not to say he is bad in either category, but the lightweight division is filled with elite talent that could expose either flaw.

Overall, I like Mederos. I did not put him at the top of this ranking because he still looks a little raw and has some noticeable issues. Still, he has a good amount of potential and will be worth watching in the UFC.

Lucas Rocha–Flyweight

Lucas Rocha started DWCS Season 7, Episode 10 with a bang as he landed a brutal flying knee that knocked out Davi Bittencourt.

Rocha had to fight through a heavy grappling pace to earn a contract. In the first round, Bittencourt attempted a ton of takedowns, created many scrambles and looked to take Rocha’s back. Rocha was on the losing end of a lot of those exchanges, but he did not allow Bittencourt to get to dominant positions.

Personally, it seemed like Bittencourt was destined to gas out. The number of fighters that could carry his pace for three rounds is short. Plus, his takedowns were much more telegraphed in the second round, allowing Rocha to defend a takedown and land a knee in a striking exchange.

At 23-years-old, there are several things to like about Rocha. It begins with the fact that he already has a 17-1 record. That is a lot of experience for someone his age. In terms of skills, he is a sufficient grappler and clearly has striking skills.

I think Rocha will be able to compete in the UFC flyweight division. I could easily see him picking up wins over several fighters on the roster. Typically, if you are capable of that at 23, you will be ranked later in your career.

At the moment, I think Rocha will struggle most against fighters who can control positions on the ground and have opportunistic submission skills.

Ramon Tavares–Bantamweight

Ramon Taveras got a contract on DWCS Season 7, Week 10 with a 29-second knockout victory over Cortavious Romious.

This was Taveras’ second fight on DWCS this season. In episode 5, he was knocked out in the first round, but UFC CEO Dana White thought the bout was stopped prematurely and gave Taveras another opportunity.

Taveras was able to find himself in the win column this time around because he was the cleaner and more technical striker. That is not much of a surprise, however. Romious is a grappler and it was a shock when he decided to trade with Taveras.

Taveras’ skills are centered around his boxing; on the feet, he has a good left hand from his southpaw stance, he looks to counter and he throws in combinations. I also like how he crowds opponents that look to kick.

I think Taveras’ boxing will earn him wins at the UFC level; however, he will run into better strikers. That was evident from his first DWCS experience. Taveras will keep a job in the promotion, but I am less optimistic about his upside in comparison to the fighters we have already discussed.

Connor Matthews–Featherweight

The final contract winner from DWCS was Connor Matthews. In his bout, he was forced to dig deep and he picked up a decision win over Jair Farias.

This bout was highly competitive as both fighters landed some damaging shots that hurt the opponent. Ultimately, Matthews won because he hurt Farias on more occasions. Plus, he did a good job attacking the body and proactively grappling.

I have two issues with Matthews. The first is that he is 31. I have said positive things about prospects in their 30s, but that requires a high level of talent. I do not see that with Matthews. The second issue is that he does not have an elite skill. Matthews is well-rounded, but he does not have a skill that separates him from other fights. I view that as a requirement to be a highly touted prospect.

If Matthews picks up wins in the UFC it will be through toughness, grit, cardio and well-roundedness. That does not make him someone to get excited about.

***

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