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Dana White’s Contender Series: Season Six, Week Ten Recap

Dana White's Contender Series DWCS
On Season Six Week Ten 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 Six, Week Ten Recap

Dana White’s Contender Series (DWCS) Season Six, Week Ten served as the season’s finale episode. As usual, the episode gave ten fighters the opportunity to impress Dana White and the UFC staff in the hope of earning a UFC contract. It is almost tradition at this point that five fighters received a UFC contract. However, this episode was special as we saw highly touted prospect Bo Nickal finally earn a UFC contract. Here is a recap of each DWCS fight with a breakdown of which contract-winners impressed the most. The fighters that impressed the most will be at the top of the list while the fighters at the bottom may have a short UFC tenure.

Bo Nickal — Middleweight

After finishing Donovan Beard with a triangle choke in the first minute of their fight, there was no question that Bo Nickal would earn a UFC contract. To be honest, he should have gotten one after his first fight on DWCS, but he is in the UFC nonetheless. 

In his fight with Beard, Nickal proved to be one of the best prospects in MMA. As a three-time NCAA wrestling national champion, there was no question that Nickal was a tremendous grappler. In this fight, he showed solid boxing and tremendous Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. On the feet, he landed an overhand left as he level changed for a takedown which knocked Beard down and allowed Nickal to grapple. On the ground, he quickly transitioned into full mount and began to hunt submissions. The BJJ transitions he showed were great as he started with a guillotine and transitioned into the triangle choke that got him the finish. 

With his addition to the UFC roster, Nickal is now the best prospect in the organization. Fighters that can grapple like Nickal are not common. He is an all-time great collegiate wrestler, and he has rounded out his grappling with elite BJJ. You can’t ask for much more. On the feet, we have not seen much. In those limited moments he has looked good, but I just need to see more before I can accurately assess his striking. Worst-case scenario, he needs to improve his striking to catch up with elite middleweights. That would not be the end of the world as he is only 26 years old. He will have time to do it. Regardless of where Nickal currently sits as a striker, his grappling skill set makes him the best prospect in the sport. 

Mateus Mendonca — Bantamweight

Mateus Mendonca opened DWCS with a bang, knocking out Ashiek Ajim in just 48 seconds. Mendonca landed a quick right hand behind Ajim’s ear that wobbled him. One more follow-up shot was all he needed to put Ajim out cold. 

Mendonca blew the roof of the UFC Apex with this performance. At just 23 years old, he will be a great addition to the UFC bantamweight division. In most cases, it is difficult to watch a 48-second fight on DWCS and determine if a fighter has potential. This is not one of those cases. Mendonca clearly has a lot of power and he is very quick — a great combination. He also threw nice kicks up the middle and he controlled the octagon well. Those are two more positive traits. We did not get to see any grappling from Mendonca, but he trains at Chute Boxe Academy with Charles Oliveira so I do not think that will be an issue. Mendonca is a fighter to keep an eye on as he debuts in the UFC.

Rafael Estevam — Flyweight

Rafael Estevam got it done with ground-and-pound in round two against Joao Elias. The breakdown of this fight is fairly simple. Elias looks to submit his opponent and he usually does so quickly. Estevam was able to defend those submission attempts and land ground-and-pound. At the end of the day, it was all cardio and submission defense that led Estevam to this victory. 

Estevam, 26, is a solid addition to the flyweight division. Estevam’s submission defense, ability to scramble, and impressive cardio are all traits that are needed at flyweight. I would like to see him fight better strikers. I think this fight proved that he can succeed against good grapplers. If he can strike well he should be able to crack the top-15.

Sam Patterson — Lightweight

Sam Patterson earned a contract on DWCS as he submitted Vinicius Cenci with a rear-naked choke in the second round. Patterson had to fight through some adversity to get this finish. In the first round, he was clipped early and it looked like he was hurt. He did fight back and have a good round outside of that. His offensive skill set revolves around his range. Standing 6-foot-3 with a 78-inch reach, not many lightweights have a frame like Patterson. He utilizes that size to throw jabs, straights and a variety of kicks. In the pocket, he can land solid hooks as well. 

Patterson is a fighter with a lot of potential, but he also has a low floor. If you were to tell me that Patterson goes 0-3 in the UFC and gets cut from the promotion, I would not be surprised. If you were to tell me that Patterson becomes a ranked lightweight, I would not be surprised. It all comes down to learning how to use his size. If he can do that, he will be very good. On DWCS, Patterson got hit a little too much. This happened due to mistakes in range management while keeping his hands low. Patterson does get a boost because of his BJJ. He showed a variety of submissions and solid transitions. At just 26, he will have time to learn how to use his length at the UFC level. It will be an interesting journey to watch, for better or worse. 

Jack Jenkins — Featherweight

Jack Jenkins and Freddy Linares were supposed to put on an entertaining kickboxing bout on DWCS, however, Jenkins did not get that message. Jenkins flipped the script, taking Linares down and controlled him. As he controlled position, he landed a plethora of nasty elbows that opened a cut on Linares’ eyebrow. Eventually, he was able to land enough ground-and-pound to get a third-round stoppage

Jack Jenkins is a tough fighter to analyze moving forward. We did not get to see any of his great striking in this bout. I would like to give him credit for showing layers to his game, but it was obvious that Linares was not a great defensive grappler. I think this was less of Jenkins being a tremendous wrestler and more of Linares struggling in that facet of the sport. At 29, he has time to make improvements, but he simply has less time than other fighters that received a contract today. Despite putting him last, I do not think Jenkins is terrible. The issue is that you have to be a special fighter to crack the top-15 at featherweight. I am not sure that Jenkins is special. He could fight in the organization for a while, but I doubt he becomes an elite prospect.


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