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DWCS Season 4: Week 9 results: Three win contracts with Natan Levy earning high praise

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Dana White’s Contender Series - Santana v Levy Photo by Chris Unger/DWCS LLC/Zuffa LLC

Three fighters earned UFC contracts at DWCS Season 4: Week 9, with Natan Levy, Nikolas Motta and Luana Pinheiro headed to the octagon after Tuesday’s fights at the UFC APEX in Las Vegas.

Of the trio, Pinheiro and Levy drew the strongest praise from UFC President Dana White, who said Levy had drawn the praise of the promotion’s lawyers and Hollywood connections as a dominant fighter from Israel. Motta didn’t get quite the nod, with the UFC executive saying he needed to work on his killer instinct.

In an exchange partially picked up by hot mics, Motta vowed to do better with more than 20 days’ notice, which is how he ended up in the all-important audition. Not surprisingly, the card’s other big finisher, Pinheiro, won a big thumbs up from a first-round knockout.

Sousa’s striking overcomes Ksiazkiewicz’s grappling

It was a tale of two fights in the main event of Season 4: Week 9, with Mario Sousa doing serious damage on the feet and Mariusz Ksiazkiewicz controlling on the ground.

From a points perspective, however, judges saw it unanimously in the favor of Souza, who took home 30-27, 29-28 and 29-28 scorecards for the work he did on his feet and on his back in a fight with plenty of scrambles.

Both fighters were exhausted by the time 15 minutes had elapsed. Ksiazkiewicz showed he could grind by repeatedly taking Souza to the mat, even in the final seconds after an ill-fated straight ankle lock attempt went badly wrong when his opponent righted himself and hammered at his head.

But in nearly every exchange, no matter the position, it was Souza doing the damage with his hands and feet. That was evident from the first round when he dug a front kick into Ksiazkiewicz’s belly, producing a noticeable wince from the Polish fighter, and a flurry in the second round that looked like it might have led to a finish were it not for Ksiazkiewicz’s ability to clinch up and get the takedown.

Souza’s victory wasn’t entirely clean. He twice strayed from the rules, landing an illegal elbow well after referee Mark Smith’s call of time at the end of the first round, and an upkick in the second while Ksiazkiewicz was grounded. Smith gave Souza one last chance to do his work on the feet with a standup in the third. Still, he was unable to stop the takedown and instead worked for submissions that were just a bit short.

Levy sleeps Santana

For three straight rounds, Natan Levy took Shaheen Santana to the canvas with slick trips. In the third, he leveraged that grappling superiority into a finish that left Santana snoozing.

Just 55 seconds into the final frame, Santana was saved by the referee after going limp due to an arm-triangle choke Levy applied while passing guard. Fighting at 15 pounds above his natural weight class, Levy made the most of his technique.

Santana had shown promise on the mat himself in the second round. After taking a kick to the face, he reversed position when the two hit the mat and held a body triangle as he threatened a choke. The swing of momentum was short lived, however, when he banked on an armbar and wound up on his back, where Levy rode out the round in control, much as he ended the first frame, dominating from top position after a trip.

Motta shuts out iron-tough Lowry

Nikolas Motta battered Joseph Lowry over three rounds with heavy hands, turning Lowry’s face into a crimson mask over 15 minutes.

Lowry absorbed all of Motta’s punches. But he never quit, and hecontinued to press his opponent in a show of heart that offered a moral victory despite unanimous scorecards of 30-27 in Motta’s favor.

In the second round, Motta nearly stopped Lowry with a combination against the fence. Lowry’s nose bent and his face opened up, and yet he fired back in the pocket until Motta backed off. Somehow, a blow of the nose before the third round didn’t blow up his face, and he survived for the third round.

In the final frame, Lowry took a shin full to the face and still chased after his opponent as the seconds ticked away. Motta was the unquestioned winner, though Lowry made it a fight.

Pinheiro bulldozes Frausto

Luana Pinheiro potshotted with Stephanie Frausto in a fight that looked more like a sparring session than an an all-out fistfight. Both fighters landed on each other, but neither delivered enough force to shift momentum much in their favor.

Then, out of nowhere, Pinheiro rushed Frausto and bulldozed her with a flurry of punches. A two-piece left and right hook caught Frausto flush, sending her to the canvas. Follow-up shots put Frausto out, forcing referee intervention at the 2:48 mark of the first round.

It was quite a turn for Pinheiro, a trained judoka who shifted to MMA in 2016.

Sabatello outgrinds Moore for dominant, if lackluster win

Danny Sabatello trash-talked like a Diaz against Taylor Moore. But his gameplan more closely resembled Matt Hughes.

A lightning-fast double-leg was the preview for a three-round drubbing by Sabatello that was broken only by round breaks and verbal skirmishes that had commission officials on their toes. Never was Moore really in the fight as Sabatello smothered and pounded him for 15 minutes. Judges reflected the dominance, with one judge awarding 10-8s in every round for a 30-24 tally. The remaining two officials were more conservative, scoring 30-25 and 30-26.

Full DWCS Season 4: Week 9 results:

Mario Sousa def. Mariusz Ksiazkiewicz via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)

Natan Levy def. Shaheen Santana via submission (arm-triangle choke) - Round 3, 0:55

Nikolas Motta def. Joseph Lowry via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)

Luana Pinheiro def. Stephanie Frausto via KO (strikes) - Round 1, 2:48

Danny Sabatello def. Taylor Moore via unanimous decision (30-24, 30-25, 30-26)