Just three days after hosting the epic tussle between Frankie Edgar and Pedro Munhoz (watch highlights), UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada, will once again open its doors for 10 Octagon hopefuls as Dana White’s “Tuesday Night Contender Series” continues its fourth season. Another four fighters put pen to paper last week: The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) veteran Josh Parisian and the Cosce brothers, Louis and Orion, scored impressive knockouts, while Cheyanne Buys put on a 15-minute show of dominance to claim a contract despite not finding a finish.
Tonight’s card, which kicks off at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN+, sees Ring of Combat Middleweight champion Jhonoven Pati (6-3) take on Jamie Pickett (10-4), the latter of whom returns to the Contender Series cage for the third time after two unsuccessful bids. The co-feature pits interim Titan FC Lightweight champ Rafael Alves (18-9) against Combate standout Alejandro Flores (17-2), while Jeffrey Molina (7-2) takes on Fury FC Flyweight titlist Jacob Silva one fight prior. Finally, unbeaten Canadian Lightweight Anthony Romero (7-0) fights LFA vet Mike Breeden (8-2) and Minnesotan Middleweight finisher Collin Huckbody locks horns with Kyron Bowen (9-4).
Let’s get crackin:’
‘Contender Series’ Quick Results:
Jhonoven Pati vs. Jamie Pickett — Pickett def. Pati by TKO (punches) at 0:33 of Round Two
Rafael Alves vs. Alejandro Flores — Alves def. Flores by submission (guillotine choke) at 2:55 of Round Two
Jeffrey Molina vs. Jacob Silva — Molina def. Silva by unanimous decision (30-27 x2, 29-28)
Anthony Romero vs. Mike Breeden — Romero def. Breeden by unanimous decision (30-26, 30-27, 29-28)
Collin Huckbody vs. Kyron Bowen — Huckbody def. Bowen by submission (arm triangle choke) at 1:28 of Round One
‘Contender Series’ Play-By-Play Results:
185 lbs.: Jhonoven Pati vs. Jamie Pickett
Round one: Jab from Pickett, low kicks from Pati. Pickett lands another leg kick and avoids a right hand. 1-2 from Pickett. One minute in. Low kick, jab. Again. Pati advancing but not throwing at the moment. Now some front kick attempts. Pickett tries a head kick in return. He ducks a right hand and takes him down into guard. He avoids a triangle and passes to side control two minutes in. Pati gets to his feet and shoots in, slamming Pickett down as the latter holds onto a front headlock. Two minutes to go.
Pickett closes his guard and bears down on the guillotine. Pati manages to pull his head out and look for punches. Pickett stands, lands a knee as he separates. Pati goes low-high. One minute to go. He puts Pickett on the fence, lands a knee downstairs and tries to spin. Low-high again, winding up on his right hook to the body. Again. Elbow and 1-2. 10-9 Pati.
Round two: Hard combinations from Pickett to start. A straight left knocks Pati back and Pickett follows up with about a dozen punches to force the stoppage. Wow.
Final result: Pickett def. Pati by TKO (punches)
155 lbs.: Rafael Alves vs. Alejandro Flores
Round one: Alves stalking, lands a jab and eats a leg kick. Side kick from Flores. He blocks a body kick. One minute in. Alves low kick, eats a counter right. Flores picking at his lead leg. Combination by Alves. Flores waving him on. Left hook lands for him, wheel kick blocked. Two minutes in. Flores blocks a body kick and lands jabs. Leg kick connects. Teep by Alves knocks him back. 3-2 connects. Two minutes to go.
Flores threatens an elbow. He tries a low kick, lands a 1-2 downstairs. Alves tries to spin, eats an oblique kick and lands a 2-3. Flores hauls him to the fence. They separate with a minute to go. Flores sending out jabs. Flying knee attempt. 10-9 Flores.
Round two: Flores staying light on his feet, lands a shifting shot and some leg kicks. Alves continuing to stalk forward. Flores tries a jumping switch kick, lands a low kick. One minute in. Superman punch to body kick. Straight right downstairs. Alves stalking but not throwing. Teep from him. Low kick exchange. Jab upstairs. Two minutes in. Alves tries a jumping switch kick. Body and leg kicks from Flores, who locks up as Alves blitzes and gets caught in a vicious arm-in guillotine. It takes a bit, but it forces the tap.
Final result: Alves def. Flores by submission (guillotine choke)
125 lbs.: Jeffrey Molina vs. Jacob Silva
Round one: Molina sends out some early kicks. Silva catches one, doesn’t follow him down, gets pressed against the fence. One minute in. Molina with double underhooks. Hunting for the outside trip, can’t get it and they separate. Silva counters a low kick with a right hand that stings Molina, only to get cracked by a nasty right hand as he pursues and change levels. Molina reverses against the fence. Silva reverses in turn and they separate. Knee from Molina just connects. Calf kick connects with two minutes to go.
More kicks from Molina. Right hand appears to land. Silva counters another low kick with right hands that briefly drop Molina. Silva ties up, gets reversed with underhooks. Knees from Molina. One minute to go. He looks for an elbow on the exit. Silva tries some body kicks, falls short with a Superman punch. Silva charges in and gets dropped by another counter right, popping up to shoot at the bell. 10-9 Molina.
Round two: Molina continues to send out kicks. Jab connects. Calf kick. Lead right lands for Silva. Body kick a minute in. 3-2 from Silva. Molina calf kick, sending out jabs from both stances. Silva body kick two minutes in, but it’s Molina potshotting successfully. Combination from Molina. Right hands in the center. Calf kick, lead right. Two minutes to go.
Molina tries a 1-2, lands a cross counter and attempts a blitz. 2-3, more right hooks. Body kick from Silva and Molina puts him on the fence, where they briefly jockey. Silva lands a lead right, then a left hook with a minute to go. Body kick from Molina. Molina tries a Superman punch, then visibly hurts Silva with a clean head kick. Silva manages to tie up, only to eat a series of knees to the head and body. 10-9 Molina.
Round three: Silva on the advance early. Knee and right hook land for Molina. Head kick attempt. 1-2 from Molina, avoids a right hand, ties up briefly. One minute in. Silva tries a series of punches. Trading near the fence, Silva getting the better of it. 3-2 lands for him. They pause to look at Silva’s cheek cut. 1-2 from Molina. They trade, both landing right hands. Low kick from Silva. Counter knee catches Silva leaning but he somehow absorbs it. Two minutes to go.
Back to exchanging in center cage. Stiff jab from Molina. Silva with a clean jab, eats one in return. Silva stalking after him. Landing jabs. Check hook by Molina. One minute to go. Molina tries a head kick, avoids a blitz. Silva lead right met by a jab. Molina lands a counter left on the retreat, tries a knee. Both connect with hooks. Silva blitzes, clinches, lands on the break, lands a Superman punch. 10-9 Silva.
Final result: Molina def. Silva by unanimous decision
155 lbs.: Anthony Romero vs. Mike Breeden
Round one: Breeden looking for leg kicks. Lots of feints early. 1-2 and blocked body kick by Breeden, who avoids a right hand. Pressing forward early. One minute in. Romero fakes a level change. Breeden combo falls short, as does Romero’s. Romero tries a head kick, lands a low kick. Breeden tries his own head kick and front kick. Two minutes in. Romero with an uppercut to head kick, eats a body kick in return. They trade calf kicks and Romero cracks him with a left hook. Stiff jab from Romero. Two minutes to go.
Romero tries a two-piece. Breeden combo falls just short. Romero body kick. Good combo on the fence, then a calf kick that bothers Breeden and a flying knee attempt. One minute to go. Breeden steps in with a body kick. Romero with an overhand right to side kick. Simultaneous kicks. 10-9 Romero.
Round two: Romero denies an early takedown, fakes a level change, lands an uppercut. Lead right from Breeden, who takes him to the fence. They separate. Jab exchange. Romero takes him down off a leg kick and tries a head kick on the way up. One minute in. Low kick from Romero. Breeden steps in, eats a left hook, lands a right hand. 2-3 attempt, blocks the return fire two minutes in. Big uppercut by Romero and Breeden tries to slug back. Breeden low kicks. Romero tries a head kick, lands a jab. Lead elbow falls short, spinning back fist appears to land. Two minutes to go.
Breeden takes him to the fence. Romero separates quickly. Jab into takedown puts him on top in half guard. Breeden scrambles up. Romero body shot with a minute to go. Low kicks land. Breeden suddenly cracks him with a step-in knee and follows up with a left hook. He’s visibly struggling to walk from the calf kicks though, and he can’t capitalize. 10-9 Romero.
Round three: Breeden pursuing from southpaw, walks into a right cross and tries to tie up. Body kick from Romero. Breeden trying to open up inside, lands a body kick. Romero ducks a punch, tries to shoot, looks for a left on the break. They trade punches for a bit. Another calf kick visibly compromises Breeden and Romero starts wrecking the other leg. Breeden still advancing, swings on the fence. Romero tries a single-leg, can’t get it. Good body shots by Breeden, who defends a shot and separates two minutes in. Combination lands for Romero. Counter right, head kick attempt. Breeden catches him coming in with a knee downstairs. Two minutes to go.
Breeden still stalking forward. Combination attempts as he pursues and he’s landing these. Big left hook by Breeden, then to the body. 1-2 by Romero, then a clean body kick. 1-2. Both land jabs. One minute to go. Breeden hops in with a knee, avoids teh takedown. 1-2 from Romero, right hand, low kick. Uppercut, then two nasty calf kicks. Breeden manages to put him on the fence. Breeden tries to open up, eats more leg kicks, gets taken down at the bell. 10-9 Romero.
Final result: Romero def. Breeden by unanimous decision
185 lbs.: Collin Huckbody vs. Kyron Bowen
Round one: Bowen opens with a leg kick. Body shot to leg kick. Huckbody lands one of his own, shoots, and drives through the sprawl to land on top in guard. Bowen spins to his knees and gets caught in a guillotine, which Huckbody rides down into mount. One minute in. He drops the choke, briefly considers an arm triangle, and denies a sweep. There’s the arm triangle again and this one gets the tap.
Final result: Huckbody def. Bowen by submission (arm triangle choke)
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