After nearly eight months away, Dana White’s Contender Series returns to the ESPN+ airwaves this evening (Tues., July 26, 2022) for the first episode of Season 6, streaming live online with an 8 p.m. start time right here.
Tonight’s action features four fights instead of the usual five, as a planned clash between Farid Basharat and Willian Souza was canceled yesterday when Souza hit the scales a full 10 pounds over the Bantamweight limit. The main event sees LFA Middleweight champion, Ozzy Diaz (7-1), take on the returning Joe Pyfer (8-2), who suffered an injury loss to Dustin Stoltzfus in 2020. At 205 pounds, BRAVE CF veteran Anton Turkalj (7-0) meets Acacio Dos Santos (14-4), while Dennis Buzukja (7-2) makes his second bid for Contender Series glory opposite Kaleio Romero (6-1). The Flyweight opener pits Lux Fight League titlist Alessandro Costa (10-2) against unbeaten Ecuadorian Juan Andres Luna (12-0).
‘Contender Series’ Quick Results:
Ozzy Diaz vs. Joe Pyfer — Pyfer def. Diaz by TKO (punches) at 1:39 of Round Two
Anton Turkalj vs. Acacio dos Santos — Turkalj def. dos Santos by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28 x2)
Dennis Buzukja vs. Kaleio Romero — Buzukja def. Romero by unanimous decision (29-28 x3)
Alessandro Costa vs. Juan Andres Luna — Costa def. Luna by split decision (30-27, 28-29, 29-28)
‘Contender Series’ Play-By-Play Results:
185 lbs.: Ozzy Diaz vs. Joe Pyfer
Round one: Hard calf kick by Pyfer to start. Nice reactive takedown into side control. Already looking for a front choke. One minute in. Back to guard. Diaz unable to use the fence to stand. Pyfer sets up an arm triangle, then hops right to side control. Trying to take the back after losing it. Both hooks in two minutes in. Body triangle. He looks for an arm triangle, ends up on the bottom with two minutes to go.
Half guard for Diaz. Looking for the back as Pyfer attempts to stand. Pyfer slips free and puts him on the fence. They separate with a minute to go. Calf kick by Pyfer. Stiff jab lands for Diaz, who eats a cross counter and some hard jabs. Trading jabs. Diaz tries a Brazilian kick, then shoots. Denied. 10-9 Pyfer.
Round two: Solid early punches from Pyfer. Landing jabs. 1-2 by Diaz. Counter hook comes back at him. Lead hook by Pyfer a minute in. Diaz lands a low kick as he continues to eat jabs. He tries to press the issue with a body shot and gets absolutely annihilated by a check hook. He’s just about out when he hits the ground, but it takes a few more punches for the ref to intervene.
Final result: Pyfer def. Diaz by TKO (punches)
205 lbs.: Anton Turkalj vs. Acacio dos Santos
Round one: dos Santos opens with a big flurry. Turkalj responds with a body lock, can’t complete the first couple lifts. Looking for the back. He gets dos Santos down, only gets one hook in as the latter stands. One minute in. dos Santos holding onto a kimura grip. Two minutes in. Still stuck in that position against the fence. Turkalj gets him to a knee with two minutes to go.
Full takedown now. Looking to take the back proper. Solid elbows. dos Santos works his way back to his feet, can’t separate. One minute to go. Standing back take by Turkalj. Loses it. He tries a spinning elbow and flurry at the bell. 10-9 Turkalj.
Round two: dos Santos counters a low kick with a flurry. Sharp straight left. They exchange haymakers against the fence until Turkalj changes levels and spins him down into side control. Potential d’arce setup a minute in. Getting deeper. Loses it. He looks for the back on the way up, messing with dos Santos’ base. Two minutes in. Sneaky elbow by dos Santos. He separates with a nasty shot. Turkalj looks for a Thai knee. Straight left lands again for dos Santos. Again, then a 2-3 that snaps Turkalj’s head back. Two minutes to go.
Big exchange near the fence. dos Santos getting the better of these. 1-2 on the counter. Check hook. Turkalj blitzes and drags him down from the rear waist lock. Both hooks in with a minute to go. Body triangle. Solid elbow and punches. 10-9 Turkalj but it’s close.
Round three: Both land in the first 10 seconds. Turkalj fires a two-piece after eating a low kick, then wraps up a rear waist lock for another takedown into side control. Back to half guard. Awkward transition nearly allows dos Santos to take his back. Back to top half for Turkalj. Two minutes in. dos Santos turns to his knees and Turkalj again tries to take the back. They scoot to the fence. Two minutes to go.
dos Santos again gets to his knees and again Turkalj tries to take his back. Back up, back down with a minute to go. More control until the bell. 10-9 Turkalj.
Final result: Turkalj def. dos Santos by unanimous decision
145 lbs.: Dennis Buzukja vs. Kaleio Romero
Round one: Romero slips early, eats a body kick. Buzukja advancing, getting caught on the way in. Single-leg attempt by Romero, who hauls Buzukja to the fence. One minute in. Still grinding. Two minutes in. There’s a lift, nothing doing. Jockeying for position. Two minutes to go.
Buzukja still defending, unable to separate. Romero still fighting for a takedown. One minute to go. Buzukja reverses, gets reversed in turn. Romero tries one last level change. 10-9 Romero
Round two: Quick exchanges early. Buzukja still pushing forward, swings a big 2-3 and has to fight off a takedown. Romero gets him to a knee, can’t keep him there a minute in. Still grinding against the fence. Two minutes in. They separate. Buzukja advancing, lands well to the body and follows with a heavy right hand. Big knee forces Romero to shoot. Two minutes to go.
Buzukja swinging some heavy blows, but Romero manages to change levels. Hard hammerfists as he defends. One minute to go. Back to the grind. Romero tries a couple of elbows before re-entering. Sneaky knee. 10-9 Buzukja.
Round three: Low kick from Romero as he retreats. Buzukja sending out right hands, avoids an ugly spinning back fist. Romero looks pretty spent. Now Buzukja shoots and he completes it against the fence. One minute in. Romero works his way up and separates. Right hook lands for him as Buzukja looks for combos. Buzukja looks for a spinning elbow. Body shot. Romero lands a clean head kick two minutes in. Nice straight left. Low kick, counter two-piece. Long right hand into a takedown attempt into the front headlock. He snaps Buzukja down, then goes for a banana split. Loses it with two minutes to go.
Buzukja on top. Romero tries to sit up into a takedown attempt. Back to the feet. Romero feints a shot, lands a body kick, eats two in return with a minute to go. Romero feints into a level change against the fence. Sneaky knee. Romero looks for a guillotine, loses it, ends up on his back. Buzukja dropping punches. Honestly, I think Romero may have gutted it out. 10-9 Romero.
Final result: Buzukja def. Romero by unanimous decision
125 lbs.: Alessandro Costa vs. Juan Andres Luna
Round one: Luna switching stance. Nobody throwing anything as we approach the one-minute mark. There’s a low kick from Costa. Luna tries a head kick, gets warned for extended fingers. Straight left lands for him, simultaneous kicks. Neither man really willing to engage; they’re sitting at the very end of kicking range. Costa low kick. Two minutes in. Luna fires a body kick in return. Costa just misses with a counter right. Luna does the same with a lead overhand. Head kick to head kick. Two minutes to go.
Luna tossing out plenty of kicks, none within range. Punches fall short as well. Costa answers a low kick with a blitz. One minute to go. Starting to push forward, tries a body kick. Luna lands a front kick and has to deal wiith another blitz coming his way. Costa jumps cup-first into Luna’s outstretched heel for a last-second pause. 10-9 Luna on activity?
Round two: Solid jab and kicks from Luna. He backs away from a combination. Costa having issues with the range. One minute in. Luna going in-and-out, nice low kick. Knee to the body in the clinch. Costa continuing to fall short. Two minutes in. Luna just feeding him a steady diet of rangy shots as he circles. Two minutes to go.
There’s a calf kick from Costa. He tries a head kick, Luna comes back with a front kick. Luna avoids a wheel kick and backs away from a combo. Costa appears to sting him with a right hand inside and they start trading. One minute to go. Luna trying to answer back but gets floored with another heavy right when slinging an uppercut. Costa follows him down into side control, only to gets swept in seconds. He briefly considers an arm triangle. Both men attacking with strikes. 10-9 Costa but it wouldn’t be wrong to give Luna the round for the early control.
Round three: Hard calf kick from Costa. Trading low kicks. Counter left lands for Luna. Back to trying to potshot. One minute in. Luna shoots, denied, eats a right hand on the exit. Things have slowed way back down. Counter right by Luna. Swatting left as they exchange, body kicks. Two minutes in. Costa whiffs on a two-piece. Nice calf kick. Counter right to answer a naked kick. Chucking overhand rights, lands another calf kick. Two minutes to go.
Costa tries a right hand and head kick. Luna low and front kicks. Right hand on the exit. Awkward spinning back kick attempt. Long uppercut, right hand in combination with a minute to go. Costa shuts down a takedown, fires some heavy rights. Both land to the body. Luna changes levels, denied. Costa tries to swing hit and denies one last level change. 10-9 Costa.
Final result: Costa def. Luna by split decision
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