Recapping Episode One of this season of Dana White Tuesday Night Contender

The excellent Summer series featuring up and coming prospects returned Tuesday night live and exclusive to UFC Fight Pass with 5 matchups. We had the debut of former NFL player Greg Hardy (1-0) going up against another former NFL player Austen Lane (4-1). The card was headlined by Contender Series alum Alonzo Menifield (7-0) who took on Dashawn “Buck the 400-pound Silverback” Boatwright (3-1). The card was fast and furious, and that is what makes the Contender series that much fun. If this week was any type of a preview of what to expect over the next few weeks we are set for an excellent summer.

We started the season off with Kevin “Trailblazer” Holland (13-3) and Will “The Brown Bomber” Santiago (9-5). These guys came out bouncing around, with Holland missing with low kicks. Holland threatened with a spinning kick that missed. Holland was trying to get his kicking game off. Holland went for a kick and Santiago threw a big left hand that seemed to stun Holland. He instinctively dropped down for a takedown. Santiago was able to scramble back to his feet, but Holland went for a takedown again. Santiago was controlling him from the bottom until Holland got back to his feet. They were back on the feet and Holland was back to trying to land kicks. Holland was bounding in to the pocket, and Santiago returned a hard left hook that connected. Holland pounced in with a left hand of his own. Santiago was doing a good job circling away, and staying out of the range. Holland jumped in and hit a knee that Santiago absorbed well. Santiago then had to block a really hard head kick. The two traded some punches as the horn sounded. A touch of gloves started round 2. Holland was circling around Santiago, and then lurched forward with a combination that finished with a leg kick. Holland threw a spinning kick that missed followed by a spinning back fist that missed. The two were just missing with big shots. Santiago landed a really hard left hand, and then seconds later he threw a huge right hand that connected and backed Holland up against the fence. Holland tried to grab for a takedown, but was shrugged off quickly. Holland however came back very quickly moving forward trying to find an opening. Holland then landed a big right hand, and then went into the clinch with a flying knee. Santiago’s face was bloodied, but he continued to trade with him. Holland threw another flying knee that was partially blocked and evaded by Santiago. Holland tried for another spin kick that was evaded late in the round. They hugged to start round three, and it was Holland throwing low kicks. Then Holland came forward and ate a gigantic left hand from Santiago that dropped him. Holland recovered quickly and landed a hard shot on Santiago. Holland dove on him, but he recovered. Santiago had Holland backed up against the cage briefly, but couldn’t connect. Holland was starting to throw open hand slaps that were being blocked. Holland threw another slap than a left-right combination. Holland hit another straight right. Holland landed a nice front kick to the body and then a hard right hand. Santiago was walking right through it however. Holland was showing off a tad, and Santiago landed a nice double leg takedown. Holland was able to get back to his feet quickly. Santiago was keeping him pressed up against the cage. Late in the fight, Holland tried to pull guard and grab for an armbar, but came up short and the fight came to an end. The judges scored this one 30-27 across the board for Kevin Holland. Holland certainly looked good in this fight, despite not getting the finish. He also showed some holes in his game as well. He had a chance to really use his size to his advantage more. If he doesn’t get the contract, he certainly has to be on a very short list for the UFC.

We then jumped to Bantamweight for a matchup between Montel “Quik” Jackson (3-0) and Rico DiSciullo (9-2 1NC).DiSciullo tried to throw a head kick that immediately blocked. Jackson was controlling the Octagon for the most part, and trying to find an opening. DiSciullo was working his leg kicks, and Jackson returned fire with a hard body kick. Jackson landed a crisp left hand that made DiSciullo wince a bit. Jackson rushed forward, and was landing some big shots on the feet. Jackson snuck in a straight left that floored DiSciullo. Jackson dove on top of him trying to end the fight. Disciullo was keeping himself in it, and Jackson was all over him. Jackson threw a hard left elbow directly to the back of the head. The ref immediately stopped the fight to give DiSciullo time to recover, and to take a point away from Jackson. On the restart DiSciullo was moving around the outside of the Octagon. Jackson was being patient and trying to find the opening. Jackson hit a knee to the body that saw his foot go low, and hit him directly in the cup so we took another break. DiSciullo tried to come forward to start back up. DiSciullo tried to time a takedown, but Jackson was able to stay on his feet easily. We headed to round 2 and DiSciullo landed a nice low kick. DiSciullo appeared a lot more frenzied moving forward trying to land. He overextended himself and Jackson caught him and took him down while controlling his back. Jackson slammed him to the mat. DiSciullo tried to get back to his feet, and Jackson was just slipping in punches and landing nice shots. Jackson picked him and landed a huge takedown slam. Jackson was in side control briefly. As he tried to pass DiSciullo almost ended up with a kneebar, but Jackson evaded and was now again on the back of DiSciullo. Jackson was just peppering him with punches in the position. DiSciullo tried to get back to his feet and then tried to roll again for a kneebar. Instead he kept having Jackson just all over him throughout the end of the round. We started round 3 and DiSciullo was trying to land kicks early. Jackson landed a hard right hand and DiSciullo was trying to return fire. We then got yet another infraction from Jackson, and this one was an eye poke from Jackson that paused the fight. The doctor came in and checked it out and we finally got restarted, but not after Herb Dean took another point. DiSciullo came out fast with hard right hands trying to find a home. DiSciullo got hit with a hard knee that stumbled him. Jackson dove onto the situation and was just pounding him with shots until he dropped to the mat. Herb Dean still hadn’t stopped the fight and Jackson was just peppering him. DiSciullo made it back to his feet, but Herb Dean finally stepped in and stopped this. For Montel Jackson this was a good finish to a tough fight. The multiple infractions and points being taken really took the flow away from this fight. Jackson did what he had to do late however with the finish.

The heavyweight matchup with the most eyes on it was next as Greg Hardy (1-0) took on Austen Lane (4-1). Hardy came out trying to move forward looking to land. Lane wasn’t backing down coming right back with shots. Hardy then poked Lane in the eye, and we had a stoppage. Lane came back with two nice shots on the restart. Hardy, however, wasn’t deterred and started coming forward. Hardy then came forward and hit a gigantic right hand that forced Lane to hit the mat to his knees. Lane popped back up clearly damaged and a big left hand sent Lane to the mat for good. Well, Greg Hardy was most certainly as advertised. He certainly looks inexperienced, but that power is undeniable. Who knows where he goes from here as 1-0 in his pro career, but power like that can take him a long way.

It was co-main event time as Chris “Action-Man” Curtis (19-5) went up against Sean “The Unpredictable One” Lally (7-3). Curtis came out taking the center of the Octagon. Lally landed a hard leg kick in response. Curtis was trying to back Lally up, but Curtis was continuing to move forward. Curtis hit a hard uppercut that Lally ducked in to. Curtis was ripping to the body, and then hit a hard left hand to the head of Lally. Curtis kept going to the well with the left hand and connecting. Lally came back with a nice left hand. Curtis was holding the center of the Octagon and backing Lally up consistently.Lally went for a head kick that was blocked. Lally’s face was starting to show the effects of the punches from Curtis. Lally hit a nice right hand that connected. They traded two hard shots as the round came to an end. The second round started with a nice straight left hand from Curtis. Lally was trying to get his punches in, but his striking was beginning to look more wide open. Lally was connecting with uppercuts on a regular basis. Curtis has backed him up against the cage and hit a hard left hand that stumbled Lally. Curtis ten hit a hard knee against the cage. Lally responded with a hard left hand of his own. Curtis was doing a really good job timing the shots and connecting. Lally hit a hard combination that included a right uppercut that connected to the chin. They danced around, and headed to round 3. We started with a blocked head kick by Curtis. Lally wasn’t done with the head kick, he just kept moving forward trying to push the pace. They continued to dance around, and then a lead hook kick from Curtis knocked Lally out. Curtis pounced and added a few shots, but Lally was already out. Chris Curtis absolutely made the impact that you need to when being on this show. Curtis has excellent experience, and proved he can stop fights on a big level. It would be pretty surprising if he didn’t walk away with a contract.

We closed out Week 1 at 205lbs as Alonzo Menifield (7-0) and Dashawn “Buck the 400-pound Silverback” Boatwright (3-1) went at it. The fighters came out, and Boatwright threw a head kick that was met with a hard right hand from Menifield and Boatwright went to the mat. Menifield just got on top and started pounding him to the mat. The referee had seen enough as Boatwright had gone out for a split second. Well if Menifield wanted to make sure he wasn’t a forgotten winner from last year he most certainly did. This knockout was absolutely powerful and got it done in record-setting fashion for the Contender Series.

We then got the deliberation from Dana White as to who would be awarded the contract. The first contract went to Alonzo Menifield, which was well deserved. The second contract went to former NFL player Greg Hardy. This was a tough one from the experience factor, but he most certainly has the power to make a difference.

This was an excellent debut to season 2 of The Dana White Tuesday Night Contender Series. The first fight was lackluster a little, with just some glimpses of fun, but after that is was nothing but exciting fights.  The finishes came fast and furious> The contracts went to the two probably most deserving guys. It would have been interesting to see a guy like Kevin Holland get a shot, but he has to be on a very short list of potential UFC signees. Here is hoping that next week can only live up to this premiere.

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