There may not be an Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) event this week, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get your mixed martial arts (MMA) fill as “Contender Series” rolls on tonight (Tues., Sept. 7, 2021) on ESPN+.
Last week’s abridged episode saw four fights produce five contracts. A.J. Fletcher kicked the season off properly with a perfect flying knee, Victor Altamirano and Carlos Candelario got rewarded for a hugely gutsy battle, Joanderson Brito’s strong performance earned him a UFC berth despite an abrupt eye poke ending, and Azamat Murzakanov’s rapid-fire finish of Matheus Scheffel capped things off nicely.
This week’s main event sees LFA standout Josh Quinlan (5-0) take on Logan Urban (5-1), who steps in for Darian Weeks on ultra-short notice. In the co-feature, Chidi Njokuani (19-7) looks to follow in brother Anthony’s footsteps against DWCS veteran Mario Sousa (12-1).
Also on tap are bouts pitting Bantamweight Saimon Oliveira (17-3) against late replacement Jose Alday (14-5-1), TUF: Brazil and UFC vet Bruno “Korea” Mesquita (12-3-1) against Fury FC champ Carlos Vergara (8-2-1), and ONE veteran Muin Gafurov (17-3) against surging Albertan Chad Anheliger (10-5).
‘Contender Series’ Quick Results:
Josh Quinlan vs. Logan Urban — Quinlan def. Urban by KO (punches) at 0:47 of Round One
Chidi Njokuani vs. Mario Sousa — Njokuani def. Sousa by TKO (elbows) at 1:35 of Round Three
Saimon Oliveira vs. Jose Alday — Oliveira def. Alday by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
Bruno Korea vs. Carlos Vergara — Vergara def. Korea by TKO (knee) at 0:41 of Round One
Muin Gafurov vs. Chad Anheliger — Anheliger def. Gafurov by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
‘Contender Series’ Play-By-Play Results:
170 lbs.: Josh Quinlan vs. Logan Urban
Round one: Urban opens with a low kick. Quinlan responds to his aggressive by blasting him with a monster counter right. Quinlan continues piling up the shots until Quinlan crumples against the fence.
Final result: Quinlan def. Urban by KO (punches)
185 lbs.: Chidi Njokuani vs. Mario Sousa
Round one: Njokuani on the front foot early. Sousa tries a head kick, takes a low blow that he shakes off. Continuing to trade kicks. Hard low kick from Sousa a minute in. Njokuani teep. Sousa tries a head kick and follow-up spin. Sousa with a low kick and right hand as Njokuani scrambles up. Njokuani shoots in response and puts him on the fence, grabbing a body lock. Knees to the body. Sousa responds with one directly to the cup that has Njokuani in serious pain. He takes a couple minutes to recover, then returns to the fray. Low and body kicks from Njokuani. Sousa lands a knee and muscles him to the mat with two minutes to go.
Njokuani pops back up and they trade knees downstairs. They continue to throw knees and Sousa once again hits Njokuani in the groin. Herb Dean takes a point after Njokuani takes three minutes to recover. Sousa swinging big punches. Body kick and jab from Njokuani. One minute to go. Sousa tries a trip, ends up on his back as Njokuani counters it into half guard. Njokuani lands shots until the bell. 10-8 Njokuani with the point deduction.
Round two: Sousa tries to come out hard and gets rocked by a right hand He continues to swing, then ties up and puts Njokuani on the fence. Good knees from Njokuani in the clinch. One minute to go. Sousa looks for a single-leg, completes it, gets swept immediately. Njokuani on top in half guard. Two minutes in. Sharp elbows and punches by Njokuani. Chipping away with two minutes to go.
More elbows piling up. Sousa tries to turn for a leg, good defense by Njokuani. One minute to go. Big hammerfist from Njokuani. Sousa tries to roll for a kneebar, eats punches from his knees. 10-9 Njokuani.
Round three: They trade heat to start until Njokuani drops him with a knee to the body and follows him down into guard. Good ground-and-pound piling up. His corner says Sousa’s done and it’s looking like they may be right, though he does manage to survive a flurry. Njokuani distracts him with left hands, then sneaks in a right heavy elbow that starts a fight-ending onslaught.
Final result: Njokuani def. Sousa by TKO (elbows)
135 lbs.: Saimon Oliveira vs. Jose Alday
Round one: Oliveira launching kicks, tries a spinning back fist. Alday with a right to the body in return. Oliveira slips while throwign a head kick, then catches him coming in with a check hook. Hard 2-3 from Alday a minute in and he follows up to the body. Heavy overhand right from Oliveira, who tries to follow up with a spin. Alday body kick. Two minutes in. Another spinning back fist attempt from Oliveira, pushing forward with kicks. He shoots in from long distance and drags him down into guard. Two minutes to go.
Half guard now for Oliveira, staying heavy on top. Alday tries to scramble, gives up side control with a minute to go. Pressure but no strikes from Oliveira. 10-9 Oliveira.
Round two: Early right hand from Alday, who avoids yet another spinning back fist but eats low kicks. Counter right by Alday. Lovely body shot. Oliveira shoots, hauls him to the fence, gets reversed. One minute in. Jockeying for position. They trade knees to the body, then separate two minutes in. Alday with a right to the body, then the head, but gets cracked by a hook in return. Big left hook from Oliveira as Alday tries to pick an attack from single collar tie. Calf kick stumbles Oliveira, who clips Alday with a spinning elbow. Big exchanges now. Oliveira changes levels with two minutes to go.
They separate. Alday tries a left hook up top and they trade calf kicks. Oliveira with a body kick and right hand, shrugs off an uppercut. One minute to go. Alday digs a cross downstairs. Left body shot, jab through the guard. Oliveira with a front kick and knee downstairs, then tries a late takedown. 10-9 Alday.
Round three: Oliveira opens with a flying kick attempt. Heavy exchanges, both landing punches and kicks. Huge right hand hurts Alday, who Oliveira takes down into half guard. Alday closes guard a minute in. Seemingly stalling off his back as Oliveira tries to chip away with punches. Alday scrambles up against the fence and reverses two minutes in. Trading knees downstairs. They separate after Alday fails a body lock trip. Back to trading bombs. Both posturing at each other, then Oliveira downs him with a long-range double-leg into guard. Two minutes to go.
Oliveira staying heavy, moves to half guard. One minute to go. He tries to pass straight to mount, can’t, lets Alday up with a kick to the leg. Alday still throwing as Oliveira waves him on. Big 2-3 from Oliveira, who tries a final spin and avoids a late flurry. 10-9 Oliveira.
Final result: Oliveira def. Alday by split decision
125 lbs.: Bruno Korea vs. Carlos Vergara
Round one: Vergara stalking aggressively, lands a clean right cross. Korea tries a jump knee and spinning back fist, but gets dropped by a right hand in an exchange. Vergara latches onto a front headlock, then folds Korea with a one-hitter-quitter knee to the body.
Final result: Vergara def. Korea by TKO (knee)
135 lbs.: Muin Gafurov vs. Chad Anheliger
Round two: Apologies for the late start; I somehow got it in my head that it started at 9:00 PM Eastern. We’ll start with two minutes to go.
Gafurov, after shaking off a low blow, shoots in and dumps Anheliger to the mat for what the stats claim is his fifth takedown of the fight. On top in half guard. One minute to go. Gafurov not throwing many strikes, but hunting a kimura in the final seconds. Now he postures up for some shots. 10-9 Gafurov.
Round three: Gafurov punches his way into a double-leg on the fence. Trying to lock his hands. One minute in. They trade on the break. Anheliger stuffs a shot with double unders. Jab and low kick, avoiding the big swings in return. Gafurov tries to chain a double-leg into a single leg, eats shots on the exit. Gafurov definitely looking spent. Well-timed shot after taking an uppercut. He tries a spinning back kick, eats more punches with two minutes to go.
Good body shot from Anheliger, who counters an outside reap into top half guard. Looking for the back with a minute to go. Gafurov stands, lands a hard left hook, and shoots again. One minute to go. Anheliger reverses on the fence. They separate with 30 seconds left. Left hook from Gafurov. Anheliger cracks him with a combo and they end the fight trading. 10-9 Anheliger.
Final result: Anheliger def. Gafurov by split decision
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