Last week, we saw most of the contestants get contracts with some riveting action, and this week could be similar. Nothing is ever guaranteed, but there’s a series of action matchups that could be much more competitive in practice, but it’s anyone’s guess as to who gets a contract or not.
Contender Series continues to bring in middleweights in an attempt to bolster a long-suffering division, with two middleweight fights on this card. Flyweight also gets a nice matchup, but it’s a demanding proposition for the winner (and possible signee). Victory this week means diving into a shark tank. The rest of the card is rounded out by a pair of lightweight fights.
Jhonoven Pati vs Jamie Pickett
Pati (6-3) is a problem. He’s also got a very established ceiling, having lost to Ryan Spann and Punahele Soriano - both current UFC fighters. He’s got a lot of confidence in his hand and chips away with damage before landing bigger damage inside. He’s also got a good looking clinch with strong knees inside, although his cardio is a bit of a concern.
Pickett (10-4) is not a stranger to this party, as this is going to be his third go-round at the Contender Series soirée. Unfortunately for him, both of his previous outings were against Punahele Soriano and Charles Byrd, both of whom moved on to get UFC contracts. Pickett’s a top-heavy guy that has good top control and slows the fight down to a crawl, where it better suits his pace. While not as consistent with distance management as Pati, Pickett can wade inside and land some good clean shots, but it’s also a tricky proposition against someone that also hits hard and isn’t a slouch in the submission department.
Rafael Alves vs Alejandro Flores
Alves (18-9) is a certified do-or-die fighter, having very few fights go to a decision. His most notable win was his submission over former UFC fighter Yoislandy Izquierdo, while his losses include a leg kick TKO against Vagner Rocha and a loss to Tiago Trator earlier in his career. He’s a wily striker that’s got good BJJ skills, which helps a lot as he’s susceptible to takedowns from stronger wrestlers.
Perhaps that’s something that won’t be a major factor here. His opponent Alejandro Flores (17-2) is primarily a striker, although leans more towards being a generalist. He’s got good clinchwork, a good defensive grappling game but not much in the way of double/single-leg takedowns, etc. His submission game goes to the side in favor of his striking, which has now led him to have four out of his last five. That’s not to say he’s not going to go for submissions at all, he’d just much rather stand and bang. This is probably the toughest one to call, but is stylistically compelling.
Jeffrey Molina vs Jacob Silva
Molina (7-2) is an interesting addition here, with slick boxing and scrambly ground game. He’s got more of a BJJ influence to his grappling, though. That’s usually a great thing, but can be a detriment when a fighter is content to play guard for long stretches of a fight, but his submission skills are still good and his finishing instincts are solid. With six consecutive wins, he’s looking good right now. Even if two of those losses were to opponents that were 3-7 and 9-17. The man works hard and fights well, so it’s certainly not a knock on him.
Silva (6-2) lost his first two pro bouts and hasn’t lost since. Cutting his teeth on the Texas circut in Fury FC and LFA, he’s got a bit of an athletic disadvantage compared to some other flyweights out there. His wrestling is fine, his submission defense is very good, but his cardio suffers and his striking accuracy and output are a problem. At least he’s got major power in his hands when he does land, and that’s a major ace in the hole.
Anthony Romero vs Mike Breeden
Romero (7-0) is the fighter I’m personally most excited to see this week. Having gone 9-1 as an amateur set him up brilliantly to burst onto the pro scene and wreck shop at King of the Cage. He’s a ball of energy that works fast, pushing a punishing pace on opponents and sparking them if they get careless. He lands on his feet like a cat and gets the upper hand during grappling exchanges very consistently. With a combined 15-fight win streak between his amateur and pro fights, he’s got some pretty high potential, but also high expectations.
Breeden (8-2) is deceptively long and uses his range well for his punches, and loves to overwhelm opponents when he feels an opening. He sits down on his punches to drop people with his right hand and follows up with as many strikes as he can. Only one of his wins has come by decision. This should be fight of the night, and it’s a shame they didn’t sign either fighter outright.
Collin Huckbody vs Kyron Bowen
Huckbody (7-2) has four wins with arm triangle chokes, which makes sense when you realize he’s a lanky 6’3 middleweight. He’s got good striking and wrestling, but it’s obviously his long-guy grappling that’s been his biggest asset. Just watch the guy work. The timing on the takedown was nice, but it’s the control and patience leading to the setup and squeeze that did it. His only notable win so far is a decision loss against Bevon Lewis.
Bowen (9-4) is another tall and lanky guy with nasty submissions, but it’s his strikes that really get the job done. Bowen’s reach and accuracy piece up anyone he’s up against, leading to every single win coming by finish. This fight could come down mostly to cardio and who does better in the clinch, and it should be competitive from start to finish.