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Dana White’s Contender Series Season 7, Week 5 Recap

Dana White's Contender Series DWCS
On Season Seven Week Five 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 5 Recap

Dana White’s Contender Series (DWCS) Season 7, Week 5 is in the books. The card was pretty strange as we saw a massive underdog win, an awful stoppage, one of the worst fights in DWCS history and more.

Nevertheless, five fighters walked away with UFC contracts. The only thing left to do it is recap the fights and discuss which fighters have the highest potential in the UFC. We will kick things off with the fighters with the most potential and work our way down.

Dione Barbosa (Women’s Bantamweight)

In my eyes, Dione Barbosa has the most potential out of all of the fighters to walk away with a contract on DWCS Season 7, Week 5. Barbosa earned a contract with a first-round submission over Rainn Guerrero.

Barbosa proved to have very legitimate submission skills in her bout on DWCS. From the bottom position, Barbosa was actively hunting submissions and showed some promise off her back. Though what I really liked was that she was not content to lay on her back and hunt submission. Often, we see high-level submission artists lose rounds because they played BJJ off their back.

Barbosa did not fall into that category. Instead, after not immediately landing a submission, she used her BJJ to sweep and get the top position. From the top, she attacked an armbar. After that, she used the threat of a leg lock to prevent Guerrero from getting the top position. This is all smart and intelligent grappling that is adapted for MMA.

I wished we could have seen Barbosa’s takedown offense in more detail. The grappling exchange started after Guerrero caught a kick and landed a takedown. I would have liked to see more striking too; however, she did look solid from what we saw.

Overall, I view Barbosa as a very solid prospect. As far as potential goes, she can be the champion in the women’s bantamweight division. That is for a mixture of reasons. The women’s bantamweight division may have the worst roster in the UFC (assuming the women’s featherweight division closes). That makes it easier to climb the ranks. Furthermore, barring a massive change, the division does not have elite talent. If you pair the circumstances of the women’s featherweight division with Barbosa’s skills, we have a fighter to keep an eye on.

Serhiy Sidey (Bantamweight)

On DWCS Season 7, Week 5, Sergiy Sidey earned a contract with a first-round knockout over Ramon Taveras. The only issue was that the bout was stopped very early. It is worth noting, but I will not hold it against Sidey.

The winner of this bout was going to be placed highly on this list. Sidey and Taveras both appeared to have talent. I will not go into detail about Taveras because he did not get a contract, but it is important to note that Sidey earned a very legit win.

Sidey is a really solid striker. I like his balance between boxing and kicking. On the outside, he landed some really nice kicks. Although, what I loved the most was the fighting ending sequence. Sidey capitalized on the first mistake Taveras made. Taveras threw a left hand and stayed in range for too long. Sidey used his length to punish him with a great one-two. At times, fighting does not need to be complex. Instead, you can just capitalize on the mistakes that your opponents make. I like to see a 27-year-old on DWCS do that.

Sidey also comes in a massive 5-foot-11. That gives him a good size advantage over a lot of bantamweights. As his career progresses, I am interested to see how he will leverage that size to his advantage.

The only thing that hurts Sidey’s potential is that he is being tossed into the shark tank of the bantamweight division. Yes, Sidey is talented and has the potential to be a quality UFC fighter, but it is hard to say he will ever be ranked. I think Sidey is a very good prospect, but you need to be elite to make the ranks in that division. Still, he should carve out a lengthy UFC tenure.

Brendson Ribeiro (Light Heavyweight)

Brendson Ribeiro was the shocker of DWCS Season 7, Week 5. Ribeiro, a +500 underdog, earned a contract after landing a first-round knockout after closing around a +500 underdog against Bruno Lopes.

In this bout, Ribeiro and Lopes essentially just threw wildly until one of the two was knocked out. That style of fight played into the favor of the hard-hitting Ribeiro. It certainly did not help that Lopes did not have much head movement or striking defense. Nonetheless, Ribeiro displayed his long jab, tricky counters, and long straight.

Ribeiro is a really unorthodox fighter. This is mainly because of his build. At 6-foot-3, he is pretty long for the division, but he has weirdly long arms too. This will make him a tricky opponent because he will be able to land his jab and straight in moments when opponents believe they are not in danger.

I feel like I have a pretty solid read on Ribeiro. This is one of the contender series fighters that is more about excitement than skills. In the future, Ribeiro will appear on a card and deliver a really fun fight, though I do not expect that he will be a serious contender at any point in his career. This is in part because he fights too risky, but he will probably struggle against quality grapplers too and his frame is not ideal for grappling. In short, he will be fun, but not that skilled.

Jean Silva (Featherweight)

Jean Silva earned a UFC contract after earning a decision victory over Kevin Vallejos. Silva landed a lot of damaging shots and pushed the pace, but Vallejos was very tough and refused to quit.

Let’s start with the positive, this was an entertaining bout. That is the recipe for getting a contract on DWCS. If you want a contract, either get a finish or be entertaining. In that regard, Silva’s power, pressure and fight style made his contract worthy.

I will admit, I was not bullish on the idea of giving Silva a contract. I will not argue since he was entertaining, however. The issue I have with this bout is that, in my eyes, it was more about Vallejos being disappointing than Silva looking impressive.

Vallejos, who fights exactly like teammate Franciso Prado, was just 21-years-old in this bout. I think that youth was on display. It looked like he had a lot of technical tools, but was not ready mentally to join the UFC. I am not trying to be rude, but that is my observation. Thankfully, that can be fixed. I actually expect Vallejos to end up in the UFC someday.

Vallejos’ shortcomings allowed Silva to land some solid strikes. The unorthodox nature of his attack along with his usage of knees and elbows gave Vallejos trouble. That said, once Vallejos ran into trouble, his offense stopped.

I do not love Silva’s chances in the UFC. At 26-years-old, he does have time to improve, however. Until he makes adjustments, he will need to rely on his power, cardio and unorthodox attacks. That could get him wins against inexperienced competition, but he will struggle against talented fighters and veterans.

Dylan Budka (Welterweight/Middleweight)

The final contract winner from DWCS Season 7, Week 5 was Dylan Budka. Budka earned a contract after winning a decision over Chad Hanekom.

This fight was absurdly boring; it was actually difficult to watch. I was in shock when Dana White told Budka he earned a contract. Although, White’s reasoning made sense. Budka took this fight on short notice after fighting at heavyweight a little over a week ago. That is not an ideal way to enter into DWCS. Additionally, in comparison to Hanekom, Budka was much more active in landing takedowns, threatening submissions and throwing ground-and-pound.

White also stated Budka was undersized and requested that Budka drop from middleweight to welterweight. The combination of hurdles in Budka’s way led to White cutting his slack and giving him a chance in the UFC.

As far as skills go, Budka appears to be a solid wrestler with decent submissions and ground-and-pound. That is about as much as I will give him credit for, however. The bout really did not teach us much.

The biggest positive for Budka is that he is only 23-years-old. That gives him time to grow into a complete fighter. At the moment, he is a way away from being a UFC-caliber fighter, but he has the base required to be a solid fighter down the line.

As Budka enters the UFC, I project trouble. It just seems like he is three years away from being UFC-caliber. The move to welterweight could ease some issues, but I still think it is hard to project he will stick in the promotion. As mentioned, he has a decent base for a 23-year-old. I think it is much more reasonable to expect Budka to be cut after his fight contract, gain experience on the regional scene and then work his way back to the UFC as a more complete fighter. That is an insanely hard task, but it looks to be his most plausible route to UFC success.


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