Dana White’s Contender Series: Season Six, Week Nine Recap
Dana White’s Contender Series (DWCS) Season Six, Week Nine saw ten UFC hopefuls compete for a UFC contract. At the end of the night, we saw five fighters walk away as UFC fighters, including Raul Rosas Jr. who made history as he became the youngest fighter to ever sign with the UFC. The question is, which of these five fighters will make an impact in the UFC? This DWCS recap should help answer that question. We will go over each fighter and their potential in the order of the fighters than impressed the most.
Raul Rosas Jr. — Bantamweight
Raul Rosas Jr. entered DWCS looking to make history. He did just that. Rosas earned a contract on DWCS after winning a lopsided decision against Mando Gutierrez. At just 17, his victory made him the youngest fighter to ever sign with the UFC. In his bout, Rosas proved that he is seriously skilled. Rosas’ Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is tremendous. He has the takedown and the ability to get the fight to the ground as well. Once the fight is on the ground, he is great at controlling position, but he also advances position. These tools combine well and allow Rosas to stay in advantageous positions on the ground while he works to find a finish. It was good to see Rosas go five rounds. Despite his youth, he has the cardio to go three rounds. We did not see a lot of his striking, which is his biggest question mark heading into the UFC.
I have Rosas listed as the fighter I am most impressed with. If Rosas was 30, he would be last, however, he is still a teenager. It does not appear that Rosas will make an immediate impact in the UFC — he needs to round out his game and become more balanced before he fights established UFC competition. That is not an insult. The majority of fighters would dream to be in his position. He has elite Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu that will provide a tremendous base for his skill set. If Rosas can improve his striking he can easily become an elite UFC fighter. The potential is off the charts for Rosas. It is now up to him to fulfill it.
Brunno Ferreira — Middleweight
It was only a matter of time before Brunno Ferreira or Leon Aliu landed a knockout blow in their DWCS fight. The pair are both very powerful strikers and threw a lot of heavy strikes in their bout. Ferreira was the one that came out on top after he landed a counter right hook that wobbled Aliu which lead to the eventual finish.
Ferreira showed a lot of great traits, most notably his ability to switch stances. Ferreira looked comfortable striking from either stance and he constantly switched between the two. He also looked light on his feet and had great movement. The kicks he threw were quick and he threw them to all three levels. Ferreira was not perfect, as Aliu was able to land some solid punches. The most impactful shots of which came in the form of counters.
While watching this fight, I got the feeling that Ferreira was a UFC-caliber fighter. I believe that is meaningful as some fighters that get a contract on DWCS do not have that feeling. At the absolute minimum, Ferreira is the type of fighter that will provide entertaining fights as he carries lethal power and is willing to use it. At the same time, he has the potential to be a high-quality UFC fighter. That combination is rarer than it sounds.
Nurullo Aliev — Lightweight
Nuru Aliev earned his UFC contract by dominating Josh Wick. The recap of this fight is simple. Aliev took Wick down fairly easily, controlled position on top, and landed brutal ground-and-pound that ended the fight.
Aliev is a tremendous grappler, that was clear to see. We did not get to see much of his striking. That is standard for dominant grapplers that earn contracts on DWCS. In a lot of scenarios, I would be very high on Aliev, but not in this scenario. If we are being honest, Wick never had a chance against Aliev. Coming into DWCS, Wick was 12-5 and was just 3-2 in his last five. From a betting perspective, Aliev was a massive favorite (-540 to -670 depending on your sportsbook). In my eyes, it looked like the UFC wanted to sign Aliev and gave him a favorable opponent he could defeat handily. At 22, Aliev deserves to be in the UFC and he has a lot of potential. I just am not going to drool over a fighter that beat an opponent that can not sniff the UFC roster.
Jafel Filho — Flyweight
Jafel Filho put a stamp on his DWCS performance when he knocked out Roybert Echeverria with a massive hook in the third round. That knockout earned him a UFC contract. Before the knockout, Filho was controlling the fight. He fought with pressure on the feet and landed some solid strikes. On the ground, he came out on top in a lot of very competitive grappling exchanges. Most notably, he was able to secure the back and threaten a rear naked choke in round one.
I have a hard time determining if Filho will be a good UFC fighter. There are aspects of Filho that I like and dislike. As far as the positives go, he is very well-rounded. He has solid offensive grappling and can handle the scrambles that will pursue at flyweight. On the feet, he is good, but not great. The issue is that I have a hard time highlighting an elite skill. What skill will he lean on to win fights? I am not convinced there is one. At 29 years old, he could continue to progress, but he could also have reached his peak. That is not to say Filho did not deserve a contract. Ultimately, I view Filho as a fighter with a high floor and low ceiling.
Austen Lane — Heavyweight
Austen Lane earned a contract on Dana White’s Contender Series by finishing Richard Jacobi with ground-and-pound in the first round. This was yet another fight that took place mostly on the ground. In the short period of time the fight was standing, Lane displayed solid kicks, but he did not have the time to get his offense going as Jacobi was able to take him down. Jacobi controlled position on the ground for a while but Lane eventually landed a sweep that put him on top. In that position, Jacobi threw up submission attempts, but Lane was able to defend them. Eventually, he landed the ground-and-pound that finished the fight.
Based on the DWCS fight recap I provided, you would likely guess that Jacobi is a grappler. That is not the case, rather he is a powerful kickboxer. That means Lane was taken down and controlled for a period of time by a kickboxer. That is not good. More experience grapplers will take advantage of Lane. At 34 years old, Lane does not really have the time to fill that hole in his game either. In the UFC, heavyweights tend to have a longer shelf life, which could give Lane more time to fill his holes. The issue is Lane played in the NFL. One thing is for sure, the NFL is not easy on its athletes’ bodies. That may take a chuck out of Lane’s already short shelf life. Lane will probably be able to strike with entry-level heavyweights, but grappling will be a thorn in his side during his career.