The finishes were few and far between on the season finale of Dana White’s Contender Series, but a trio of hopefuls were signed to the UFC nonetheless.
Dusko Todorovic, TJ Brown, and Peter Barrett all received contracts from White on Tuesday night, with Brown the event’s lone fight finisher.
Heavyweight Ben Sosoli, who had previously attempted to earn a spot in the UFC as a cast member of The Ultimate Fighter 28, had his fight spoiled by an accidental foul and White said he would like to see the the Australian fighter up close one more time when he brings an episode of Lookin’ For A Fight to Hawaii this fall.
In the middleweight main event, Dusko Todorovic (9-0) went to the scorecards for the first time in his career; however, the result was a familiar one as he remained undefeated by taking a unanimous decision over Teddy Ash (14-5).
The majority of the three-round bout saw Todorovic press Ash against the cage, neutralizing the Canadian’s offense and giving Todorovic the opportunity to score with short punches and knees to the body. Ash’s nose was bloodied early and it only got worse as the fight progressed.
After a dull first round, Todorovic had to deal with a more active Ash in round two. Ash did his best to keep the action in the center of the cage, attacking with high kicks and head-hunting with punches. Todorovic looked like he was saving his energy, backing up and staying loose, then pushing Ash against the fence when he could. Ash opened up with two minutes to go and Todorovic answered by attempting to slip Ash’s punches.
The final round saw Todorovic crank up his offense, standing and trading with Ash, though his game plan still relied on getting Ash to the fence and holding him there. Ash’s hands managed to find Todorovic’s chin a few times in the closing seconds, but it was too little too late.
Evaluating Todorovic’s performance, White said that he hated Todorovic’s game plan, but respected his unblemished record and suggested that there were numerous factors that may have contributed to the Serbian fighter’s somewhat flat win.
The only fighter to earn a knockout or submission, Brown (14-6) needed a finish and he found one in the third round of his featherweight fight against Dylan Lockard (6-2) earlier on the card.
Brown faced an uphill climb from the start after being knocked down by a Lockard right hand in the opening seconds.
The Arkansas native went to his wrestling to recover, but found himself defending against an armbar as he jockeyed for position. Lockard later scored with a takedown of his own and appeared to already have a lead in round one when he was struck with a glancing knee to the head while grounded, resulting in Brown having a point taken away.
Brown recovered in the second, connecting on an unorthodox takedown and controlling the majority of the period from there. Perhaps sensing that he’d given away a round, Lockard came out firing in round three and again took the fight to the mat. However, Brown proved to be the superior grappler, working to reverse position and locking on an arm-triangle choke to snag the submission and avoid what was likely to be an unfavorable verdict on the scorecards.
White said he wasn’t impressed with Brown’s record nor the fact that he wasn’t a particularly young prospect, but he decided to give Brown a chance anyway.
The third contract winner on Tuesday was Barrett (11-3). He had to reach down deep, but after three grueling rounds Barrett edged out a unanimous decision win over Sang Hoon Yoo (5-1) in their lightweight contest.
Barrett overcame a slow start to put the pressure on Yoo for the remainder of the fight. Yoo looked like he would add to his unbeaten record as he caught a kick and took Barrett down in round one before easily passing guard and peppering Barret with strikes from crucifix position. An armbar attempt followed, but Barrett slipped out and got the fight back to the feet where Yoo remained aggressive throwing plenty of kicks and jumping knees.
In round two, Yoo looked to counter as he was having a hard time keeping Barrett off of him. Barrett’s non-stop forward movement started to wear Yoo down and the South Korean fighter’s output slowed considerably. A takedown by Barrett closed the round and they entered the final frame looking It was Barrett who continued to press forward, though Yoo’s kicks repeatedly broke through Barrett’s defense as Barrett worked to smother Yoo. Neither man could land a telling blow in the third, leaving it in the hands of the judges, who gave a trio of 29-28 scores to Barrett.
Afterwards, White spoke of how much he admired Barrett overcoming deep personal tragedy and struggles, and joked that if he didn’t sign his fellow Boston native to a contract, he might be in trouble back home.
Impa Kasanganay (6-0) beat the odds, outpointing heavily favored Legacy Fighting Alliance prospect Kailan Hill (5-1) in the evening’s co-main event. On the regional scene, Hill developed a reputation as a knockout artist, but he failed to find the mark on Tuesday, whiffing on high kicks and spinning strikes for three rounds as Kasanganay patiently picked him apart.
Whatever Hill tried, it appeared as though Kasanganay was one step ahead of him, connecting with counter punches when Hill overextended and taking Hill to the mat when it looked like Hill was starting to find the range. Even Hill’s own takedown attempts regularly went in Kasanganay’s favor, particularly a shot in the third round that led to Kasanganay ending up on top and spending the majority of the final five minutes on top in Hill’s half guard.
White did not offer Kasanganay a contract, but praised his effort and said that he expects Kasanganay to be a superstar in the future.
A promising heavyweight bout between Ben Sosoli (7-2) and Dustin Joynson (5-0) ended in a no contest a little over two minutes into round one when referee Chris Tognoni had to step in to address what appeared to be an accidental eye poke. While video replays were inconclusive as far as determining when the supposed foul occurred, Joynson told ringside physicians that he was not able to continue and it was ruled that neither man would be receiving a victory—nor a UFC contract—on this evening.
Complete results from week 10 of the Contender Series can be found here.