After a week-long break, Dana White’s “Tuesday Night Contender Series” returns to ESPN+ tonight (Tues., July 10, 2019) with 10 more mixed martial arts (MMA) hopefuls gunning for a crack at Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) glory.
Last week saw all five fights go the distance for the first time ever, but Miles Johns and Miguel Baeza sufficiently impressed to earn a roster spot alongside Yorgan De Castro and Punahele Soriano (read recap here).
Tonight’s main attraction sees Lightweight Bellator and LFA veteran “Jesse” James Wallace (9-2) against fellow submission specialist Joseph Solecki (7-2). The pair have just one decision win between them in 16 combined victories. Other names of note include former Ultimate Fighter hopeful Kenneth Bergh (6-0) and returning Contender Series alumnus Justin Sumter (7-2).
‘Contender Series’ Quick Results:
James Wallace vs. Joseph Solecki — Solecki def. Wallace by technical submission (guillotine choke) at 3:49 of Round One
Antonio Trocoli vs. Kenneth Bergh — Trocoli def. Bergh by submission (neck crank) at 3:57 of Round One
Chris Ocon vs. Hunter Azure — Azure def. Ocon by unanimous decision (30-27 x2, 30-26)
Maki Pitolo vs. Justin Sumter — Pitolo def. Sumter by TKO (punches) at 1:37 of Round One
Jonathan Pearce vs. Jacob Rosales — Pearce def. Rosales by TKO (punch) at 1:50 of Round Three
‘Contender Series’ Play-By-Play Results:
155 lbs.: James Wallace vs. Joseph Solecki
Round one: Solecki showing volume early, lands a double left hook on the fence. 3-2 from Solecki. 2-1. He catches a body kick and takes Wallace down into side control. One minute in. Good left hands from Solecki. Wallace regains half guard. Two minutes in. Solecki gets on his back with one hook, then gets the other one in. Right hands land. Alternating between punches and choke attempts. Two minutes to go.
Solecki appears to bait Wallace into sweeping him and immediately locks up a guillotine as he does. Solecki rolls him back over and squeezes until the lights go out.
Final result: Solecki def. Wallace by technical submission (guillotine choke)
205 lbs.: Antonio Trocoli vs. Kenneth Bergh
Round one: Trading kicks to start. Trocoli lands a knee, Bergh puts him on the fence. Knees from Bergh a minute in. Trocoli reverses. Bergh reverses in turn. Not much going on against the cage. Two minutes in. Bergh briefly attempts a takedown of some sort, then goes back to kneeing the thigh. It’s Trocoli who hits a throw, though, and he looks to set up an arm triangle. Two minutes to go.
Trocoli is stymied by the fence and currently on the wrong side of side control. Bergh gets to his knees and Trocoli takes the back. He wraps up a neck crank and forces the tap.
Final result: Trocoli def. Bergh by submission (neck crank)
135 lbs.: Chris Ocon vs. Hunter Azure
Round one: Azure opens with low kicks. Good right cross from Ocon. Body kick and low kick from Azure in return. Azure with a nice single-leg, can’t keep him down for long but lands a knee on the way up. Hook from Azure a minute in. Ocon low kick, eats a body kick in return. Azure lands a knee in the clinch. He buckles Ocon with a low kick and pursues with heavy punches. Two minutes in. 3-2 by Azure, another low kick and left hook. Another low kick and Ocon shoots into a guillotine. Azure loses it and changes levels. Ocon lands an elbow on the break with two minutes to go.
Azure going back to the low kicks. Ocon lands a hook to the body. Azure with an overhand right, unsuccessful shot. Ocon with a right cross in return, eats another kick to the calf. One minute to go. Another. Azure charges in, looks for a single-leg, can’t get it. Ocon presses him against the fence. Azure tries a right on the break. 10-9 Azure.
Round two: Both swinging early. Ocon lands a body shot, eats a right and a leg kick in return. Azure lands a jab and another leg kick. Ocon left hook and chopping right. Another low kick drops Ocon and Azure ties up against the fence. Azure changes levels, can’t get him down but keeps the body lock. Can’t take the back. They separate just under two minutes in. Another leg kick drops Ocon for a moment and Asure lands another before hitting a takedown. ESPN+ dies and when it comes back, Azure has a hook in. Two minutes to go.
Left hands from Azure. He wraps up the RNC and gets his second hook, but loses the choke and starts punching. One minute to go. Back to the choke, then back to punching, then back to the choke. Ocon survives. 10-9 Azure, not quite 10-8.
Round three: Ocon opens with a nice 1-2. He tries to keep up the volume, taken down. Azure takes a front headlock position. One minute to go. Still on the neck, but moves to half guard. Front headlock again. Ocon gets to his feet, eats a knee. Azure looking to put a squeeze on, then snaps him down and takes the back. One hook and the choke in. Doesn’t have a good angle. Two minutes to go.
Azure looking to adjust, lands a right hand. Ocon stands, dragged back down. Both hooks in with a minute to go. Ocon gets to his feet, avoids a head kick before teh bell. 10-9 Azure.
Final result: Azure def. Ocon by unanimous decision
185 lbs.: Maki Pitolo vs. Justin Sumter
Round one: Sumter stings Pitolo with an early right hand, tries a flying knee behind it. Low kick lands for Pitolo, then one that trips Sumter up. Pitolo unloads on the fence when Sumter pops up, but Sumter survives. Pitolo bangs the body, eats a shin to the ribs in return. One minute in. Low kick from Pitolo, 3-2 by Sumter. Pitolo backs Sumter to the fence, then absolutely brutalizes his liver with a series of left hooks that send Sumter to his knees for the finish.
Final result: Pitolo def. Sumter by TKO (punches)
155 lbs.: Jonathan Pearce vs. Jacob Rosales
Round one: Pearce throwing lots of volume early. Nice counter uppercut connects. Rosales throwing with him, lands a right cross, eats one in return. Lots of close-range exchanges so far. Rosales whiffs with a two-piece a minute in. Low kicks from Pearce, Rosales counters with a left. Rosales answers a body shot with a clean 1-2. Pearce tries to spin. Flying knee attempt two minutes in. Counter overhand lands for Rosales. Pearce low kick met by a right hand. Pearce lands some knees to the body in close. 1-2 be Pearce, uppercut. Two minutes to go.
Both land combinations in the center. Pearce lands a 1-2, eats a right cross. Hard left hook from Rosales, then another and a right cross behind it. Jab exchange. Pearce with a body kick and overhand. One minute to go. Pearce opens a combo with a knee. 1-3. 1-2. He shoots against the fence, gets taken down in return. Rosales locks up a high-elbow guillotine, can’t keep his grip. 10-9 Pearce.
Round two: Pearce still wading in with punches. Both land some heavy blows. Rosales low kick, Pearce right cross. Rosales catches a kick, counters, can’t get the takedown. Pearce 1-2. Knee to the body, right on the break a minute in. Pearce continues to march after him, throwing greater volume. Jab exchange. Rosales low kick met by a three-piece. 3-2 from Pearce. The pressure looks like it’s getting to Rosales, who tries a telegraphed shot and just blocks a wheel kick. Huge uppercut in the clinch and Pearce is pulverizing him now. Rosales shoots stuffed, once again jacked with uppercuts. Pearce takes him down, passes to mount, loses position and they stand. Back to the uppercuts from Pearce. They slug it out on the fence. Pearce avoids a spinning elbow and dumps him to the mat again with two minutes to go.
Rosales gets an underhook and stands, eating a knee and punches on the way up. Rosales lands an overhand right, winds up on his back after a failed flying knee. Pearce dropping elbows from half guard. More elbows. Back to guard, more punches. Rosales makes a heroic attempt at an armbar before the bell, can’t get it. 10-8 Pearce.
Round three: Pearce resumes his march, shrugs off a hard right hand and takes him down against the fence. Rosales looks for a leg lock, turns to his knees, tries a granby roll. Pearce in side control. He steps over for an armbar, can’t get it, avoids a back take from Rosales and looks for the back in turn. One minute in. Rosales grabs the fence to avoids the takedown, gets slammed anyway. Pearce tosses Rosales’ legs aside for a diving right hand that lands clean and sends the ref into action.
Final result: Pearce def. Rosales by TKO (punch)
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