Expectations were sky high heading into the fourth episode of the Contender Series after every winner from the previous episode earned a contract.
The first bout of the evening featured Aaron Jeffery the first Canadian to ever compete on the show, facing Legacy Fighting Alliance (LFA) middleweight champion Brendan Allen.
All three of Allen’s losses have come at the hands of current UFC fighters, while Jeffery’s lone loss was to recent UFC signee Sean Brady.
Jeffery hung in tough early on, but looked like he was a step behind Allen for much of the fight. Jeffery was able to land a flurry that appeared to hurt Allen, but ultimately Allen was able to get Jeffery’s back and submit him towards the end of the first round via rear naked choke.
The second matchup featured Bolivian Kevin Syler, who is the younger brother of former Ultimate Fighter contestant Bentley Syler facing Lance Lawrence.
Syler missed weight the previous day, weighing in at 152.5 pounds, 6.5 pounds above the 146 pound featherweight cut off.
Over the course of three rounds, Syler had a marked advantage everywhere that the fight went. He hurt Lawrence badly and his striking resulted in a massive hematoma on the forehead of Lawrence.
Despite Syler having the upper hand, Lawrence kept fighting back and had a lot of success at the beginning of the third round, when Syler looked to be tiring out. Lawrence landed a barrage of strikes and eventually got Syler’s back, locking in a rear naked choke that Syler eventually broke. Syler was then able to reverse position and get Lawrence’s back for the remainder of the third round, locking in a variety of chokes that Lawrence was able to fight off.
Syler won the fight via unanimous decision and was very emotional after the fight when discussing what it means to Bolivia to win a sporting contest at a high level.
In the third fight, Don’Tale Mayes hoped to make the third time a charm when he faced Ricardo Prasel. Mayes was on both the first and second season of the Contender Series, losing to Allen Crowder in the first season and defeating Mitchell Sipe in the second season, but despite the win, he was unable to secure a contract.
Mayes and Prasel went back and forth during the first round with Prasel landing some good shots and attempting to get Mayes to the ground, while Mayes tried to land big counters and elbows along the way.
With the round about to end, Mayes landed a vicious counter, dropping Prasel and scoring a statement victory with just one second left in the first round.
The fourth bout featured “The Jamaican Sensation” Ode Osbourne facing Armando Villarreal in the bantamweight division.
This fight featured some great exchanges, but ultimately, it was Osbourne’s creativity and savvy submission skills that allowed him to snap up a tight arm bar that Villarreal submitted to nearly immediately towards the end of the first round.
In the main event, Brazilian Antonio Arroyo, who fought on the Brazilian edition of the Contender Series last August, went back and forth with dangerous striker Stephen Regman.
Arroyo had much of the success in the first round, but towards the end of the round, Regman earned his respect with some great ground work.
The second round featured a lot of aggression from Arroyo, who threw the kitchen sink at Regman and wouldn’t be denied.
After dropping Regman and trying to finish him on the ground, he eventually worked his way into a head and arm triangle and while Regman hung on for as long as he could, he ultimately tapped out.
My two contract selections: This was a tough call because my only lock was Allen and the second selection came down to Mayes and Osbourne. I decided to go with Allen and Mayes because the heavyweight division needs more depth and while Osbourne may have been slightly more impressive, I felt that Mayes filled more of a need for the roster.
Dana White’s contract selections: White was generous with contracts again on this episode, handing out deals to the four winning fighters who made weight. Allen, Mayes, Osbourne and Arroyo walked away with contracts.
Highest ceiling: At age 23, I think that Allen has the most promise. He’s already the champion in a major regional promotion and he looked tremendous in the first fight of the night against a very tough opponent.
Biggest question mark: While I felt that Mayes deserved a contract, I think that he can beat a lot of heavyweights in the UFC, but also has a lot of skills to refine and in an always dangerous heavyweight division, I’m uncertain if he’ll be able to climb the ladder.The Dana White Tuesday Night Contender Series airs each Tuesday night on TSN GO