Tonight’s (Tues., Aug. 29, 2023) action kicks off at 8 p.m. ET start time on ESPN+, as will all subsequent episodes this season.
In what’s become an increasingly rare change of pace, only three of last week’s four victors made the cut. Josefine Knutsson’s one-sided decision win didn’t punch her UFC ticket, but Luis Pajuelo’s mauling of Robbie Ring, Oban Elliott’s comeback over Kaik Brito, and Zachary Reese’s 74-second submission of Eli Aronov did the trick.
Undefeated Welterweight Mitch Ramirez (7-0) battles Brazilian knockout artist, Carlos Prates (16-6), in tonight’s main event. The co-feature sees Yousri Belgaroui (5-2), who went from going 1-2 against Alex Pereira in kickboxing to training with him, square off with Marco Tulio Silva (9-1). Timothy Cuamba (6-1) fights BFL champ Mateo Vogel (8-2), The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 30 competitor, Chandler Cole (10-3), returns to face former LFA titlist Thomas Petersen (7-1), and Belgian Lightweight standout Bolaji Oki (7-1) opens the show against former kickboxer Dylan Salvador (5-1).
‘Contender Series’ Quick Results:
Mitch Ramirez vs. Carlos Prates — Prates def. Ramirez by TKO (punch) at 1:14 of Round One
Yousri Belgaroui vs. Marco Tulio — Tulio def. Belgaroui by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28 x2)
Timothy Cuamba vs. Mateo Vogel — Cuamba def. Vogel by unanimous decision 29-28 x3
Thomas Petersen vs. Chandler Cole — Petersen def. Cole by submission (americana) at 1:08 of Round Two
Bolaji Oki vs. Dylan Salvador — Oki def. Salvador by TKO (punches) at 2:46 of Round One
‘Contender Series’ Play-By-Play Results:
170 lbs.: Mitch Ramirez vs. Carlos Prates
Round one: Prates circling as Ramirez slowly advances. Solid low kicks by Ramirez. Good one from Prates, who frames to shut down Ramirez’s attempt to tie up. Another good low kick. One minute in. Ramirez backs him to the fence and tries to flurry. Prates body kicks. Ramirez continues to pressure and hits a double-leg against the fence. Side control. Two minutes in. Back to butterfly guard. Prates sweeps his way to his feet. Knee to the body into the clinch, Ramirez answers with punches inside. Two minutes to go.
Nice counter left by Prates catches Ramirez ducking. Ramirez triples up the inside low kick and eats a combo in return. Body kick to right hook by Ramirez. Prates straight left, then another, then a counter hook when Ramirez tries to answer. Head kick to straight left with a minute to go. Prates seems to have found his groove, stalking Ramirez while staying at his ideal distance. Heavy 2-3. Body kick to straight left. Big knee after absorbing a right hand and he ties up. Head kick to knee to elbow. 10-9 Prates.
Round two: Ramirez on the advance. He lands a low kick, eats a heavy one soon after. Good jabs from Prates. Body kick to 1-2 a minute in. Monster straight left and down goes Ramirez; he’s still awake, but offers no protest as Prates walks off.
Final result: Prates def. Ramirez by TKO (punch)
185 lbs.: Yousri Belgaroui vs. Marco Tulio
Round one: Trading low kicks in the early going. Tulio hauls him to the fence. One minute in. Tulio holding onto the body lock, can’t seem to get anything out of it. Belgaroui gets out two minutes in. Tulio low kick and overhand right, then a spinning back kick that falls short. Teep. Intercepting knee and jab land for Belgaroui. He tries to run in with another knee and has to avoid a clinch. Two minutes to go.
Belgaroui tries a Brazilian kick. Switch to southpaw for a head kick, landing jabs. Tulio hauls him to the fence again. One minute to go. Tulio tries a hip toss, but Belgaroui manages to disengage. Solid punches by Tulio, who tries to spin and eats a right. 10-9 Belgaroui.
Round two: Both still leaning on low kicks. Slick straight right by Belgaeroui, who tries a knee and lands a body shot. One minute in. More low kicks from Belgaroui. Nice counter right. Tulio answers with a spinning back fist and some heavy punches that knock Belgaroui’s mouthpiece out. They tie up against the fence, Belgaroui doing the grinding. Tulio tries a whizzer kick, no dice two minutes in. They separate. Left hook by Tulio. Belgaroui lead right. 1-2-1, more jabs. Good counter left. Tulio comes back with a spinning back kick, runs into another counter. He continues to pressure until Belgaroui clinches with two minutes to go.
Jab from Belgaroui when they separate. One minute to go. Tulio loads up on a 2-3. Belgaroui staying out of range for most of Tulio’s offerings. Superman punch from Tulio, who tries to charge in and open up at the bell. 10-9 Tulio.
Round three: Tulio wading in, nearly knocks his mouthpiece out with another looping right. He’s coming on strong as a tired Belgaroui finds himself stuck on the fence. He elects to tie up. One minute in. Tulio holding onto the body lock. Successful trip into half guard two minutes in. Solid elbow by Tulio. Two minutes to go.
More ground-and-pound from Tulio. Belgaroui doesn’t seem to have the means to stand. One minute to go. Side control for Tulio, chipping away. He postures up for some bigger shots in the final seconds. 10-9 Tulio.
Final result: Tulio def. Belgaroui by unanimous decision
145 lbs.: Timothy Cuamba vs. Mateo Vogel
Round one: Cuamba with some quick combos to kick things off. He counters a low kick with a heavy right that gets Vogel’s attention. Good left hook prompts Vogel to haul him to the fence. One minute in. Cuamba separates 30 seconds later, then avoids Vogel’s attempt to tie up off a blocked head kick. 1-2. He catches a body kick, lands another cross. Two minutes in. Low kick exchange. Cuamba catches another kick and whacks Vogel with a head kick, then sprawls on his shot. Left hook exchange. They trade near the fence. Hard Cuamba body kick after avoiding a head kick. Vogel combo and they trade with two minutes to go.
Left hook exchange, then a glancing head kick by Vogel. Vogel continuing to pressure. Cuamba catches a low kick, can’t use it. Counter right. Vogel low kick, walks into a counter right. Nice body shots from Cuamba. Vogel racking up leg kicks, lands a 1-2 with a minute to go. Cuamba left hook, Vogel leg kicks. Cuamba slips and gets put against the cage. 10-9 Cuamba.
Round two: Vogel back in pursuit as Cuamba potshots. Good straight right by Vogel into a takedown attempt. Denied. Cuamba to the body. One minute in. Vogel lands a left hook as they exchange. Counter right. 1-2 by Cuamba. The pace has slowed a bit; lots of movement but not a lot of output from them two minutes in. Vogel sends out a series of kicks, Cuamba answers with a right downstairs. Spinning back fist by Vogel off a whiffed kick. Cuamba straight right. Body shot. Two minutes to go.
Quick jabs from Cuamba. Vogel leg kicks. Left hook falls just short. Cuamba again catches a kick and can’t use it. One minute to go. Vogel tries a combo, eats a jab. Solid low kicks. Cuamba combo bounces off the guard, Vogel left hook lands. 10-9 Vogel? Not a great round.
Round three: Cuamba continuing to circle and pump the jab. 1-2. Vogel pursuing with leg kicks. Cuamba firing combinations with mixed accuracy. One minute in. Vogel puts him on the fence, can’t keep him there. Vogel leg kicks, Cuamba body shot. Cuamba tries a jump knee. Heavy combo by Vogel two minutes in, Cuamba meets it with a left hook. Vogel comes back with an overhand right and shoots, wrenching Cuamba a few different directions before completing the takedown and looking for the back. One hook in. Two minutes to go.
Body triangle for Vogel. One minute to go. Short punches. 10-9 Vogel.
Final result: Cuamba def. Vogel by unanimous decision
265 lbs.: Thomas Petersen vs. Chandler Cole
Round one: Petersen’s first shot comes 40 seconds in, and after a brief struggle, he elevates the leg to take Cole down at the base of the fence. One minute in. Cole working to try and stand, stuck on his butt. Solid elbow from Petersen. Short shots landing two minutes in. Cole manages to slip out and start unloading with punches. Petersen comes back with clinch knees, then hits an easy outside trip to land back on top in half guard. Two minutes to go.
Hard elbows from Petersen. He briefly considers a straight armbar, then goes back to elbows. One minute to go. Petersen continuing to rack up short punches and elbows; not a ton of pop on some, but there’s a handful that look like they hurt. 10-9 Petersen.
Round two: Low kicks from Cole to start. Peterson lands a solid uppercut before snatching up a single and running the pipe into side control. Shortly thereafter, he grabs an americana and cranks his way to a submission victory.
Final result: Petersen def. Cole by submission (americana)
155 lbs.: Bolaji Oki vs. Dylan Salvador
Round one: Early combos from Oki. Salvador answers a head kick with a low kick. Counter left, front kick, head kick. Good low kick and counter left; Oki’s loading up a bit, though he lands his own low kick a minute in. Salvador slips throwing a kick and eats a flurry on the way up. Low kick exchange. Body jab, 3-2, counter right all land for Oki. Very even thus far. Nice counter left again by Salvador; Oki keeps overextending when throwing the right. Two minutes in. Even exchanges. As I type that, Oki catches Salvaor kicking with a counter right and Salvador staggers back. Oki chases him across the cage with a storm of punches, ultimately hitting paydirt with a liver shot against the fence that sends Salvador to his knees for the finish.