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Dana White’s Contender Series Season 7, Week 3 Recap

Dana White's Contender Series DWCS
On Season Seven Week Three of Dana White’s Contender Series the UFC brought in a group of new fighters. Here is what you can expect from each. (David Yeazell-USA TODAY Sports)

Dana White’s Contender Series Season 7, Week 3 Recap

Dana White’s Contender Series (DWCS) Season 7, Week 3 saw a trio of fighters walk away with a UFC contract. That number is much lower than in weeks one and two. Dana White elected to turn away Josefine Knutsson after she failed to find a finish. The card also only had four fights because a bout was scrapped after a fighter missed weight.

Let’s break down the future of the three fighters that walked away from DWCS Season 7, Week 3 with a UFC contract. We will begin with the fighters with the most promise and work our way down.

Luis Pajuelo — Featherweight

Dana White did not have to think twice about giving Luis Pajuelo a UFC contract. The Peruvian finished Robbie Ring with ground-and-pound in the first round to earn himself a call to the UFC.

Pajuelo cemented himself as the top prospect from DWCS Season 7, Week 3 after thoroughly breaking down Ring. On the feet, the pair traded in the pocket and Pajuelo landed the much cleaner shots and his boxing looked impressive. Ultimately, the difference maker was Pajuelo’s impressive work to the body. This started on the feet, but it hit a pinnacle when he landed a great knee from the top position.

I like what I see from Pajuelo. At a minimum, he will be a fun addition to the UFC featherweight division. In a division with a lot of great fighters, I am interested to watch Pajuelo box with impressive strikers. As far as grappling goes, Pajuelo just worked his way past a good grappler. I thought his takedown defense was solid and he never accepted the bottom position. Those are great signs.

At 28, Pajuelo should be able to compete at a respectable level the second he steps into the octagon. I will admit, it is hard to project that Pajuelo will be a ranked UFC fighter. It does not mean it is impossible for him. Rather, that is a compliment to the skill and depth of the UFC featherweight division. Still, he should be able to craft a lengthy UFC career.

Zachary Reese — Middleweight

On DWCS Season 7 Week 3, Zachary Reese made quick work of Eli Aronov as he landed an armbar submission in round one. That made him a clear contract winner.

It is worth noting that Reese’s striking is his best skill. I like what I saw from Reese on the outside. At 6-foot-3, he was using his long legs to smoke the shorter Aronov with big kicks. Eventually, the fight got to the ground and Reese quickly snatched up an armbar that finished the fight.

I will say, at the UFC level, I am concerned about Reese’s striking defense if fighters are able to crash the distance and get inside his kicks. Aronov was able to land a few solid shots on the inside. That could be an overreaction to a short bout, but it will be worth keeping an eye on.

Reese is fairly hard to project, simply because we have not seen much of him. As a professional, Reese has not seen round two. Furthermore, most of his fights do not leave the first minute. That makes it tough to understand his full skill set.

Despite the lack of tape, I am excited for Reese. From the minimal evidence we have, it is evident he is a great kicker and will be well-sized for the middleweight division. That gives him a reasonable ceiling for the weight class. It is hard to pinpoint exactly how his career will play out, however.

Oban Elliott — Welterweight

On DWCS Season 7, Week 3, Oban Elliott earned a contract because of his heart, toughness, and determination. Kaik Brito, his opponent, was not willing to let Elliott have a contract easily. Elliott was nearly finished in round two and turned around to dominantly win the last round.

Elliott won on the microphone as well. In the build-up to the bout, the UFC ran a promo introducing the fighters and Elliott hit a homerun. In the video package, he proclaimed that he would need to be put in a box to be beaten. Come to find out, he was not kidding. In his post-fight interview, he shouted out Chael Sonnen and was clearly inspired by the ‘Bad Guy.’

As far as skills go, I am not sure if I am in on Elliott. On the feet, he was hit far too often and Brito was not very technical. I also felt Elliott made some mistakes in early grappling sequences that cost him control time. Although, it is clear he is a hard worker and will attempt to improve his game. Plus, his cardio and toughness will keep him in fights.

At 25, I am expecting Elliott to make some improvements. I also do not expect him to become a world-beater. I think Elliott can compete at the lower portion of the welterweight division, but he will struggle against quite a few fighters. Ultimately, I believe Elliott’s UFC tenure will be determined by his early matchmaking. If he gets two or three tough fights off the jump, his tenure could be short-lived. If he gets a winnable fight or two early, he could get his feet wet while adding to his skills. This would help him avoid an early release and eventually find long-term success. Personally, I think Elliott will work his way to the middle of the middleweight division without making the rankings.


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