Season 7 of Dana White’s Contender Series continues down the home stretch tonight (Tues., Oct. 2, 2023) with its penultimate episode, which serves as the first of this week’s two APEX events.
The action begins, as it will for the rest of the season, at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN+.
Though Mario Piazzon went home empty-handed after his DQ win over Alexander Soldatkin, last week’s other four fights produced six new contracts. Vinicius Oliveira and Danny Barlow punched their tickets with brutal first-round finishes, while Danny Silva’s and Ernesta Kareckaite’s victorious wars with Angel Pacheco and Carli Judice sent the winners and the losers to the big show.
A year after suffering his second loss to Vitor Petrino, Brazilian Light Heavyweight Rodolfo Bellato (10-2) returns to the program to face Bahrain’s Murtaza Talha (6-0) in tonight’s main event. This season’s heavy South American push continues in the co-feature, which pits Chilean Bantamweight Eduardo Matias Torres (16-1) against Victor Hugo Silva (23-4) and his seven-year winning streak.
Talha’s KHK MMA teammate Magomed Gazhiyasulov (7-0) fights Jose Daniel Media (11-2) in further 205-pound action, while ONE and Eagle FC standout Raimond Magomedov (10-1) steps in to meet Mauricio Ruffy (8-1).
Lucas Rocha was supposed to open the broadcast in a Flyweight bout with Davi Bittencourt, but obliterated the scale at 131, so that’s been scrapped.
‘Contender Series’ Quick Results:
Rodolfo Bellato vs. Murataza Talha — Bellato def. Talha by TKO (punches) at 4:46 of Round Two
Eduardo Matias Torres vs. Victor Hugo Silva — Hugo def. Torres by submission (kneebar) at 2:16 of Round Two
Magomed Gazhiyasulov vs. Jose Daniel Medina — Gadzhiyasulov def. Medina by unanimous decision (30-27 x3)
Mauricio Ruffy vs. Raimond Magomedaliev — Ruffy def. Magomedaliev by TKO (punches) at 4:45 of Round Three
‘Contender Series’ Play-By-Play Results:
205 lbs.: Rodolfo Bellato vs. Murtaza Talha
Round one: Low kick from Bellato spins Talha around. More low kicks. They tie up and Bellato tries a foot sweep. One minute in. Back to the low kick as he slowly advances. Talha tries a combo, nothing lands clean. Two minutes in. Talha wades in with right hands and shoots. Nice sprawl by Bellato and they’re back to the feet. Not a ton of clean lands from either side but Bellato’s doing well with the low kicks. Talha bullies his way inside and lands some short shots in the clinch. Nice uppercuts. Knees from Bellato in return with two minutes to go.
Bellato hauls him to the fence. Nice uppercut from Talha on the exit, then a looping right hook. Still trying to mug Bellato in the clinch, gets hauled to the fence. One minute to go. Trading shots in the clinch. Heavy elbow and hook by Talha on the exit. Talha continuing to land well at point blank. Bellato low kick. Talha 1-2. Bellato with a nice elbow in the clinch. 10-9 Talha.
Round two: Hard low kick from Bellato, then a heavy right cross that makes Talha shoot. Another solid sprawl by Bellato. Bellato letting his hands go, slugs with Talha in the center before taking him to the fence. One minute in. Good knees from Bellato and they trade heavy punches before he ties back up. Big knee upstairs. Bellato really doing damage inside. Talha trying to answer with punches but Bellato’s knees are far more potent. Two minutes in. Trading punches and elbows against the fence. Bellato overpowering him, tries a jump knee. Nice body shot and he sprawls on another shot. He considers an anaconda, lets go, back to the feet. Two minutes to go.
Bellato continues to beat him up against the fence. Talha seems like he’s fading badly. Knees piling up. One minute to go. Bellato unloading with punches and knees and he sprawls on another shot. Talha gets to a three-point stance, so Bellato just knees the body and swarms him with punches until the ref steps in.
Final result: Bellato def. Talha by TKO (punches)
135 lbs.: Eduardo Matias Torres vs. Victor Hugo Silva
Round one: Both open with heavy kicks before Torres ties up and looks for the back. Can’t quite jump backpack, but still has the body lock. One minute in. Knee to the body. Hugo reverses and spins him down into side control via high crotch. Half guard. Torres regains full guard and tries to toss up submissions as Hugo throws punches. Hugo slams his way free. Two minutes in. Hugo falls back for a leg and they battle in 50/50. Torres gets his knee free and Hugo transitions to a calf slicer before using it to get back on top. Two minutes to go.
Hugo stands over him as Torres kicks at his leg. One minute to go. Torres threatens a leg and uses the space to stand. Stiff jab. Hugo tries a spinning back kick. Torres wheel kick also whiffs, as does the follow-up combo. Hugo tries to sweep the leg. They trade on the fence. 10-9 Hugo.
Round two: Both miss on some big swings. Torres 1-2. Low kick exchange. Hugo shoots, can’t keep him down, puts him on the fence. One minute in. Fighting for position. Torres tries to take him down and after an awkward tumble, Hugo ends up in kneebar position two minutes in. He has to adjust, but once he does, Torres taps in seconds.
Final result: Hugo def. Torres by submission (kneebar)
205 lbs.: Magomed Gadzhiyasulov vs. Jose Daniel Medina
Round one: Gadzhiyasulov sharpshooting at range with kicks and punches. Quick low kicks, head kick glances off. Counter combo. Body kick stings Medina, who seems several steps behind already. One minute in. 1-2-3 from Gadzhiyasulov. Low kick. Body jab. Low kick. Medina stuck at the end of Gadzhiyasulov’s range and too slow to get inside. Two minutes in. They trade in the center, Gadzhiyasulov gets the better of it. He hauls Medina to the fence, tries a Showtime Kick on the exit. Switch body kick. Two minutes to go.
Switch head kick lands for Gadzhiyasulov. Pure target practice, as Medina can’t commit to getting inside without getting hit. One minute to go. Switch body kick. He takes Medina to the fence and throws short knees. Medina reverses. Gadzhiyasulov tries a wheel kick on the exit. 10-9 Gadzhiyasulov.
Round two: Gadzhiyasulov continuing to pick him apart with kicks. Heavy counter punches. Check hook. Body jab. 1-2. Body kick hurts Medina and Gadzhiyasulov tries to open up on the fence before getting hauled across the Octagon. He reverses. Elbow on the exit, spinning back elbow behind it. Medina trying to wade in, lands a left elbow before tying up. They separate and Gadzhiyasulov walks him into a spinning elbow. Medina still trying to wade in, gets easily taken down with two minutes to go.
Gadzhiyasulov chilling in guard. Short elbow. He stands over Medina with a minute to go and kicks at his leg. Medina spins to his knees after eating a diving shot, then works his way up against the fence. Gadzhiyasulov trips him down, tries a head kick on the exit. Both attempt spinning elbows. 10-9 Gadzhiyasulov.
Round three: Gadzhiyasulov hauls him to the fence for an easy takedown. Medina pops back up and avoids an awkward spin. 1-2-3 from Gadzhiyasulov, who’s starting to slow. Both lend hard in the center. Tired-looking shot by Gadzhiyasulov. outside trip finish a minute in. Medina with a few elbows before working his way up. They separate. Ugly hook from Gadzhiyasulov, wheel kick whiffs. Man he’s tired two minutes in. He tries to spin again. Lead elbow. Double-leg puts him on top in half guard. Back to full. Two minutes to go.
Gadzhiyasulov taking a breather on top, periodically throwing punches. He stands over Medina, then puts himself in a triangle choke before popping out. Medina gets to his knees and crawls to the fence. One minute to go. They separate and exchange in the center. Gadzhiyasulov lands his dozenth-or-so spinning elbow, then takes him down into side control before the bell. 10-9 Gadzhiyasulov.
Final result: Gadzhiyasulov def. Medina by unanimous decision
170 lbs: Mauricio Ruffy vs. Raimond Magomedaliev
Round one: Magomedaliev flicking out lead-leg kicks to start. Solid low kick. Bit of staring, then a body kick. One minute in. Low kick from Ruffy. Tons of feints from both sides. Wheel kick falls short for Magomedaliev. Magomedaliev whiffs on a left hook, avoids the return fire two minutes in. Still about 10 feints for every one committed strike. Solid body kick from Ruffy. 1-2 met by counter hooks. Magomedaliev to the body. Wheel kick just misses with two minutes to go.
Magomedaliev low kick. Big swing, can’t connect. Ruffy lead right, eats a knee in return. One minute to go. Magomedaliev whiffs with three huge swings and eats a straight right in return. Low kick exchange. Magomedaliev punches into the clinch, gets reversed, separates. Counter right catches Ruffy leaning. 10-9 Magomedaliev.
Round two: Lots of upper-body movement and feints from both. Magomedaliev blitzes, exits with a knee. Looping right a minute in. Ruffy falls short with a wheel kick. Magomedaliev three-piece, counter body kick, low kick. Body kick two minutes in, head kick whiffs. Ruffy just isn’t doing enough. There’s a solid low kick and jab. Right hand whiffs with two minutes to go.
Magomedaliev is in cruise control and Ruffy is barely in first gear. Ruffy fires a right hand, then pops up after getting tripped. Ruffy two-piece. Spinning back kick attempt. He slips a combo against the fence and presses Magomedaliev against it with a minute to go. Knees from Magomedaliev on the exit. Ruffy lands a right hand. Magomedaliev blitzes into the clinch. Spinning elbow on the exit. 10-9 Magomedaliev.
Round three: Heavy low kick from Ruffy visibly bothers Magomedaliev. Magomedaliev tries to blitz in return and eats another shot to that leg. Ruffy tries a head kick as Magomedaliev pressures. Hard straight left lands for him, then another behind it. One minute in. Low kicks from Magomedaliev. Big lead right by Ruffy, then another low kick. Magomedaliev is compromised but Ruffy remains overly patient. Another low kick prompts Magomedaliev to tie up. Ruffy reverses. They separate two minutes in and Ruffy goes to work with more big right hands. Counter by Magomedaliev, who nearly eats a spinning elbow. Ruffy whiffs on a right, eats a knee. Massive uppercut. Magomedaliev pressures into the clinch with two minutes to go.
They separate. Ruffy loading up on power punches. Big body shot, uppercut just misses. Left hook to right cross to right cross. Magomedaliev is exhausted and can’t move but Ruffy isn’t throwing consistently. One minute to go. Magomedaliev shoots through a spinning elbow but there’s no strength there and Ruffy takes full mount. Ruffy doing everything he can to pound him out and finally Magomedaliev turtles up for the last-minute comeback finish.
Final result: Ruffy def. Magomedaliev by TKO (punches)
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