Dana White’s Contender Series: Season Six Week Five Recap
Dana White’s Contender Series (DWCS) has become a bridge from the regional MMA scene to the UFC. On DWCS Season Six, Episode Five, we saw ten fighters looking to make an impression on White and the rest of the UFC brass. Their opportunity came in the form of a fight against another UFC hopeful, meaning only five fighters could walk away victorious. This week, all five winners walked away with UFC contracts. Here is a brief rundown of how each fighter earned a UFC contract.
Michael Parkin – Heavyweight
Michael Parkin received his UFC contract after choking out Eduardo Nevers in the DWCS main event. Things started hot in this bout as Neves landed a lot of big shots early. Parkin looked stunned and Neves was able to land a takedown. However, Neves got very tired, very fast. Once Neves tired, Parkin took over. He landed a takedown, took the back, and finished the fight with a rear-naked choke.
It’s hard not to give Parkin a contract. The point of the show is to finish your opponent and that is what he did. As far as his future goes, I cannot tell you if Parkin is UFC caliber. Neves had no gas tank or cardio, and Parkin took advantage of that. In the future, his competition will be much better. To be clear, I am not saying he will be bad — he may be great. This fight on DWCS did not give enough evidence to take either stance.
Darrius Flowers – Welterweight
Darrius Flowers had the quickest finish on DWCS Season Six, Episode Five. It came in the form of a slam that injured his opponent, Amiran Gogoladze. In MMA, doing damage is key. Slamming your opponent and injuring their shoulder may not be the traditional way to deal out damage, but it gets the job done.
Flowers is in a similar position to Parkin. It’s tough to tell if he is good enough to establish himself in the UFC. He was able to land a great finish. The downside of that is that he was unable to demonstrate his skills. We saw that he was very powerful, but that is it. He will have to display that he has other skills in the UFC. It is also important to note that he looks to move down to lightweight in the UFC.
Jesus Santos Aguilar – Flyweight
Jesus Santos Aguilar received his UFC contract by landing a third-round submission against Ericsson Ferreira. Aguilar was probably the most surprising contract recipient on this episode of DWCS. He fought well but the fight was not super entertaining. Traditionally, in this scenario, White will often opt not to award the fighter with the contract, but he saved his chances by finishing the fight.
Aguilar did not look bad in his fight, but he could have been. Despite having a lot of power, he looked to grapple in this bout. Things did not start great for Aguilar as he threw Ferreira on top of him several times. He was nearly submitted in round one, too. Eventually, Ferreira started to tire in the grappling exchanges and that is how Aguilar was able to find a submission. At this point, Aguilar does not seem as UFC-ready as other contract winners. At the same time, he is only 26 years old. This gives him several years to patch the holes in his game.
Cameron Saaiman- Bantamweight
At just 21 years old, Cameron Saaiman is now the youngest male fighter on the UFC roster. In his fight, Saaiman landed a massive left hook that knocked his opponent, Josh Wang-Kim, out cold. With a finish like that, White had no choice but to offer Saaiman a contract.
Throughout the fight Saaiman looked good. He lost the first round as he was unable to get inside due to Wang-Kim’s karate stance, but he made a great strategic adjustment to pressure Wang-Kim and crowd his kicks. After the adjustment, he was a lot more successful, and he landed a lot of solid punches. This also wore on Wang-Kim’s gas tank, culminating in his knockout victory. Overall, Saaiman looked like a composed veteran despite only his age. His potential jumps off the page. At a minimum, he should have a solid career in the UFC.
Denise Gomes- Women’s Strawweight
Denise Gomes was under pressure as White revealed which fighters would leave with a UFC contract. Gomes was the only fighter that did not win by finish. Despite that, she and Rayanne Amanda opened DWCS with a tremendous fight. If the UFC handed out fight of the night bonuses on DWCS, this fight would have won the award.
At a minimum, Gomes will be an exciting addition to the UFC women’s strawweight division. She fought at a high pace as she walked Amanda down. She landed and ate a lot of big shots. Gomes’ performance was headlined by a spinning hook kick, several lead head kicks, and solid straights. My critique of Gomes was that she was over-aggressive. While she landed a spinning hook kick, she missed with at least four. I will admit, a spinning hook kick knockout will earn you a UFC contract on DWCS. As she transitions from DWCS to the UFC she needs to refine her aggression. At 22 years old, she will have plenty of time to do that.