clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series standouts

These 4 fighters provided us with a few of the more memorable moments of the inaugural season of Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series.

It’s no huge secret that many believe The Ultimate Fighter may have run its course. So when the news of Dana White’s Contender Series was announce,d it sounded like a intriguing way to introduce fighters to the audience without having to run the gauntlet that is TUF. The eight-week summer experiment was an unquestionable success, the show produced a bevy of octagon ready prospects and introduced the world to the ultra controversial SnoopCast. When it was all said and done, there were many memorable moments to chose from, but these four fighters stood above the crowd and made the most of their summertime showcase opportunity.

Kurt Holobaugh: Week 1

The concept behind the Contender Series was two fold, introduce the world to rising prospects and give veteran fighters a second chance at their dreams. 31-year-old Kurt Holobaugh is a perfect example of the latter. Holobaugh received his first chance in the octagon in 2013 when he stepped in on short notice to fight Steven Siler at UFC 159. He would lose a close decision and did not receive the opportunity to redeem himself on a full camp. For the next 4 years The Louisiana native compiled an 8-2 record defeating top tier talent like Des Green, Yosdenis Cedeno and Gesias Cavalcante to earn his long overdue second fight.

The Fight:

In the way of Holobaugh’s path back to the Octagon was Bellator veteran Matt Bessette who was riding a 7 fight win streak of his own:

Future Outlook:

Holobaugh is light years improved from the fighter that lost to Siler 4 years ago. He looked like a complete fighter in his May Titan FC title victory fight over MMA legend Gesias Cavalcante and will be entering his fighting prime at 31 years of age. Holobaugh has top 15 skills and will be a contender in the featherweight division straight away. His debut fight has not yet been announced, but a fight with Chas Skelly would be a fan friendly slug fest that would allow both fighters a legitimate shot at taking home Fight of the Night honors.

Sean O’Malley: Week 2

22-year-old “Sugar” Sean O’Malley became the first breakout star of the online series. The MMA Lab fighter has the style and persona to be the next big thing in the bantamweight division. He earned his way onto the Contender Series by going 7-0 with 6 finishes, including an unforgettable spinning heel kick knockout of David Nuzzo at LFA 11. Despite the hype, many still had reservations about the brash youngster. UFC matchmaker Sean Shelby recognized O’Malley’s potential but thought he was still a little green, stating “O’Malley thinks he knows he is really good, but what he is good at is striking and the rest of his game needs to develop,” prior to his Octagon debut.

The Fight:

O’Malley was matched up with fellow striker, the Edmund Tarverdyan-trained Alfred Khashakyan, whose 8 professional wins all came via the KO.

Future Outlook:

5’11” O’Malley is a huge bantamweight and he uses his length advantage to land the high risk spinning and flying attacks that very rarely land when your in there with top level fighters. He definitely has superstar potential, but Sean Shelby is where he is for a reason. Before we join Snoop Dogg in anointing O’Malley the future of the sport, a test against a high level grappler will be very telling. O’Malley is booked to fight Terrion Ware at The Ultimate Fighter Finale on December 1st. Ware is a dangerous, technical striker who lost a hard fought, short notice debut to Cody Stamann at UFC 213. This fight will not test O’Malley’s ground capabilities, but it will be a fun fight with 2 guys who love to stand and bang.

Julian Marquez: Week 4

It was commonly believed that 27-year-old Missouri native Julian “The Cuban Missile Crisis” Marquez was brought in to showcase the talents of JacksonWink can’t miss (again) prospect Phil Hawes. But the Syndicate MMA-trained cranium crusher was a slippery stepping stone; of his 6 professional wins, all of them came via the KO. Marquez may not of had the hype of Hawes, but he did have the kind of power that could concuss a horse with one punch.

The Fight:

Marquez and Hawes headlined the fourth week of the show.

Future Outlook:

Marquez is a larger-than-average middleweight who can inflict serious damage with all of his limbs. While he may not have elite grappling credentials, he showed unbreakable heart and a gas tank can overcome the most decorated ground guys. He is scheduled to debut against former K-1 striker Vitor Miranda in December. I like this matchup for for Marquez’s first fight, Miranda is for all intents and purposes a striker, albeit a world class one. At 39, Miranda will not be able to keep up with the pace, power and diversity of attack of the 27-year-old Marquez.

Matt Frevola: Week 8

Tampa’s Matt “The Steamrolla” Frevola earned his shot at stardom by winning every fight he was booked in. That included a 8-0 amateur record, 6-0 pro record and 2-0 Muay Thai record. His fight to get on the show was a unanimous decision victory over ATT striking standout Raush Manfio. Defeating Manfio in his own game over 3 rounds is an impressive feat in and of itself. But when you factor in Frevola broke his foot and hand in the first round of their Titan FC bout, you begin to understand why big things are expected out the Matt Arroyo pupil.

The Fight:

Frevola met tough Texan Jose Flores in what would be a fitting finale for the first season of the show.

The "Steamrolla" is coming!

Matt "The Steamrolla" Frevola won a contract on the season finale of Dana White's Tuesday Night #ContenderSeries presented by Toyo Tires with an impressive victory.

Posted by UFC on Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Future Outlook:

The 27-year-old Frevola attempts to punch through his opponents heads with his trade marked F-bomb right hand. His BJJ is better than average and will only improve with his recent training with Matt Serra. He started out his combat sports career as a wrestler giving him the holy trinity of an MMA foundation. Frevola does not have his debut scheduled yet, but this amateur match maker would like to see him take on Kajan Johnson at MSG. Johnson is coming off of the biggest win of his career, a knockout of Adriano Martins and Frevola is a New Yorker who would be eager to please the partisan crowd.