The penultimate episode of Dana White’s “Tuesday Night Contender Series’” first season goes down tonight at The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) gym as 10 more fighters look for a chance to join the world’s largest mixed martial arts (MMA) organization.
TUF 19 veteran Anton Berzin helms the Light Heavyweight main event against fellow young gun Kennedy Nzechukwu and former LFA Bantamweight champ Steven Peterson faces Team Alpha Male prospect Benito Lopez one fight prior. Down at Flyweight, three-fight Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) veteran Joby Sanchez takes on South Africa’s J.P. Buys. Featherweights Mark Cherico and Mike Santiago duke it out in the evening’s second fight, while Nick Urso and Jordan Espinosa open the show in a Flyweight rematch.
DANA WHITE’S ‘CONTENDER SERIES’ 7 QUICK RESULTS:
Anton Berzin vs. Kennedy Nzechukwu — Nzechukwu def. Berzin by unanimous decision (29-27, 28-29, 29-27)
Steven Peterson vs. Benito Lopez — Lopez def. Peterson by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
Joby Sanchez v.s J.P. Buys — Sanchez def. Buys by TKO (punches) at 2:28 of Round Two
Mark Cherico vs. Mike Santiago — Santiago def. Cherico by KO (punches) at 2:59 of Round One
Nick Urso vs. Jordan Espinosa — Espinosa def. Urso by technical submission (d’arce choke) at 1:23 of Round One
DANA WHITE’S ‘CONTENDER SERIES’ 7 PLAY-BY-PLAY UPDATES:
Anton Berzin vs. Kennedy Nzechukwu
Round one: Counter right drops Nzechukwu right away, but he pops up quick. Leg kick from Berzin. Again. One minute in. Right hand lands upstairs. 1-2 from Nzechukwu. More low kicks by Berzin. Left hook to the body, then the right. Nzechukwu working behind his jab. Two minutes in. Leg kicks still piling up for Berzin. Straight left, then on the counter by Nzechukwu. Berzin shoots, completes it with two minutes to go.
Berzin goes right to mount and locks up a d’arce. Nzechukwu gets out, spun back to the mat with a single-leg. They separate after Nzechukwu stands. Counter right drops Nzechukwu again and Berzin pursues with punches to the head and body. One minute to go. Body kick lands for Nzechukwu. Leg kick from Berzin as Nzechukwu picks away on the fence. Berzin to the body before the bell. 10-9 Berzin
Round two: 1-2 from Nzechukwu. Good shots with Berzin against the cage. Berzin comes back with leg kicks. Good snap kick to the body from Nzechukwu. 1-2. One minute in. Berzin to the body. He might be tiring. Leg kick lands. Jabs from Nzechukwu. Berzin again to the torso. Counter right upstairs. Nzechukwu advancing, landed straight punches. Two minutes in. Berzin straight right. Left downstairs. 1-2 from Nzechukwu. Berzin body shot. Two minutes to go.
More jabs by Nzechukwu, peppered with straight lefts. Berzin shoots, stuffed. Hard left downstairs. One minute to go. More poking shots from Nzechukwu, no weight behind them. Better straight left. Berzin to the body. Again. Lead left by Nzechukwu. Berzin with a pair of heavy lefts late. 10-9 Nzechukwu.
Round three: Nzechukwu popping Berzin from just out of Berzin’s range. Berzin shoots, can’t keep him down. Nzechukwu keeps jabbing, eats left hooks. Berzin commits to a shot, can’t keep him down. Nzechukwu backs Berzin to the fence and goes back to target practice. Two minutes in. Berzin with a tired right to the body. He’s totally gassed. More combinations from Nzechukwu. Nzechukwu just chipping away. Two minutes to go.
Berzin tries to pull guard poorly. Hard left from Nzechukwu. Berzin backs to the fence, eats more punches. One minute to go. Berzin eating everything; even if they’re arm punches they’re piling up. Berzin shoots, pulls guard. Nzechukwu keeps plinking away. 10-9 Nzechukwu
Final result: Nzechukwu def. Berzin by unanimous decision
Steven Peterson vs. Benito Lopez
Round one: Peterson comes out slugging, meets a flying knee in return. Body kicks from Lopez as Peterson presses forward. Peterson shoots, eats a knee on the way but completes the takedown. Lopez pops back up after failing to take the back. One minute in. Knees from Peterson. Knee and elbows from Lopez as he defends, eats punches on the way out. Peterson lands a counter right, eats some from Lopez that split him open. Peterson catches a knee, can’t use it two minutes in. Right hand from Lopez. Another jumping knee on the counter. Counter right. Right hands from Peterson on the advance. Two minutes to go.
Lopez lands another body kick, then a pair of clean head kicks. Right hand upstairs, eats one on the break. Good right by Lopez, wheel kick falls short. One minute to go. Peterson wades in behind 1-2s and ties up, firing knees. Knees continue, uppercut snuck in among them. Elbow and a two-piece. 10-9 Lopez.
Round two: Peterson staying aggressive, lands strikes but eats a flush knee. He takes Lopez down anyway, can’t keep him there. Lopez slips, lands a knee. Grinding work from Peterson on the cage. One minute in. Sneaky elbow and a left hook. He ties up again and looks for the takedown. Good knee from Peterson. He tries a high-crotch, eats an elbow, takes Lopez down into half guard two minutes in. Peterson staying heavy as Lopez tries to regain guard. Two minutes to go.
Peterson with some short body shots. Elbows up top. Side control now for Peterson. He looks for the crucifix, can’t get it yet. One minute to go. Elbows to the head. More grinding shots. 10-9 Peterson.
Round three: Lopez lands a body kick and a counter right, eats a right hand and Peterson shoots in. Peterson tries to change levels, eats an elbow. Lopez frames and circles away. Jabs landing a minute in. Body kick. Peterson tries to shoot and they trade right hands. Lopez continues to plug away with the jab. Two minutes in. Big right hand connects, Peterson answers with a knee. Flush knee stings Peterson and Lopez lands a heavy combination. Peterson manages to shrug them off. Right hand lands for him, can’t tie up. 1-2 from Lopez. Two minutes to go.
Right cross from Peterson inside. He shoots on the fence. Browne elbows by Lopez. Peterson still driving. They trade heavy shots on the break. Peterson ducks back in. Knee exchange. Nice finishing exchange. 10-9 Lopez.
Final result: Lopez def. Peterson by split decision
Joby Sanchez vs. JP Buys
Round one: Good counter right from Buys, then a heavy exchange. Buys hits a German suplex and looks for the back, landing punches before hitting another takedown. Sanchez looks for the switch, does so and takes top position. One minute in. Buys on his feet, Sanchez dings the body and eats a knee. He changes levels, sweeps Buys to the mat. Good elbow. Buys in half guard, makes it to his feet two minutes in. Buys reverses position, falls victim to the switch again. Nice sweep and he puts in a hook. Two minutes to go.
Both hooks in as Sanchez stands. Body triangle. Buys with some punches from the back, briefly cranks. Sneaky punches and elbows. One minute to go. Pretty hard elbows honestly. Sanchez rolls to top position and avoids an armbar. 10-9 Buys.
Round two: Sanchez lands a left to the body and a right up top. Right hand on the counter, body shot again. Jumping knee to the body. He looks fresher than Buys, cracks him with another right hand and sprawls on a shot. Half guard for Sanchez a minute in, landing shots. Buys regains guard. Sanchez locks up an arm triangle and passes to side control, but abandons it two minutes in. Buys gives up his back and Sanchez blasts him with punches until the ref steps in.
Final result: Sanchez def. Buys by TKO (punches)
Mark Cherico vs. Mike Santiago
Round one: Counter left from Santiago as Cherico whacks at his lead leg. Cherico catches a head kick and takes Cherico down. Cherico tries to finagle a guillotine for a bit. Cherico spins to the back in a scramble, lands a knee when Santiago chrugs him off. Good lefts from Santiago a minute in. Three-piece combo lands. Right hook and he shoots, stuffed. Cherico reverses position, lands a knee, gets reversed. They exit with punches. Big rights ding Cherico, who stuffs another takedown but eats an elbow two minutes in. Cherico reverses, gets reversed. Both land rights, tie up again. Santiago rips to the body, eats a left hook, and then uncorks a lethal combination, at the end of which a shovel hook lands flush and turns out the lights.
Final result: Santiago def. Cherico by KO (punches)
Nick Urso vs. Jordan Espinosa
Round one: Both men send out kicks early. Right hand from Espinosa, who gets cracked by a head kick. Urso ties up on the fence, eats a hard elbow. Single-leg attempt, more strikes from Espinosa on one leg. Urso abandons it and eats a right straight. Knee to the head drops Urso and Espinosa locks up a d’arce choke. He clamps down and rolls until Urso goes limp, eyes rolled back in his head.
Final result: Espinosa def. Urso by technical submission (d’arce choke)