Carlos Prates made a thunderous first impression in his big-stage debut.
The 30-year-old welterweight headlined a night of three contract winners with his impressive second-round walkoff knockout of Mitch Ramirez at Tuesday’s Contender Series event, which took place at the UFC APEX in Las Vegas.
Prates (17-6) was an absolute sniper against Ramirez (7-1), taking charge from the opening bell with an array of precise striking techniques. The Brazilian wore down Ramirez and landed at will with everything he threw, connecting on straight lefts, kicks to the head and body, and slick knees up the middle. Smelling blood, Prates needed just 74 seconds into Round 2 to topple Ramirez with one final left hand down the pipe, notching a highlight-reel walkoff knockout and drawing comparisons to UFC legend Anderson Silva from Dana White.
“I told Dana after my fight, I’m here to be the new welterweight star,” Prates said. “I can talk, I can win, I can knock people out. And guess what? I’m going to do everything.”
Among the night’s other contract winners was former JUCO national champion wrestler Thomas Peterson (8-1), who bulldozed through TUF 30 heavyweight Chandler Cole (10-4) en route to a second-round submission victory.
Peterson controlled the opening stanza with a steady diet of elbows and punches from half guard following a pair of easy takedowns. The 28-year-old wrestler then built on that success in the second frame, securing an immediate takedown into side control, then wrenching on a brutal kimura to coax a tapout from Cole at the 1:08 mark of the round and earn his spot in the UFC heavyweight division.
In the opening bout of the evening, Belgian lightweight Bolaji Oki (8-1) kicked off the card with a bang, steamrolling over Dylan Salvador (5-2) with a scintillating first-round knockout to secure the night’s final UFC contract.
Despite facing a veteran striker who owned kickboxing and Muay Thai wins over Giga Chikadze and Sitthichai Sitsongpeenong, Oki was undaunted. The 27-year-old prospect badly hurt Salvador with a left hand to the body, then finished off his handiwork with a ruthless barrage of punches along the fence, capped off by another left hand to the body.
The official time of the finish came at 2:46 of the opening round.
In the co-main event, 28-year-old Brazilian middleweight Marco Tulio (10-1) may not have had the striking experience of Yousri Belgaroui (5-3), but it didn’t matter.
A towering 6-foot-5 middleweight, Belgaroui faced Israel Adesanya and Alex Pereira a combined five times over a lengthy kickboxing career, and even defeated Pereira via decision in 2017 before becoming training partners with the former UFC middleweight champion. Tulio, however, showed surprising adeptness on the feet, blasting the Dutchman with hard looping punches and repeatedly knocking out the mouthpiece of Belgaroui.
A teammate of former UFC lightweight champion Charles Oliveira, Tulio then sealed the deal in the third round, dragging Belgaroui down on the floor and smothering him from top control to earn a unanimous decision via scores of 30-27, 29-28, and 29-28.
Despite winning, his performance was not convincing enough to earn a UFC deal from White.
Rounding out the night was the youngest fighter on the card, 24-year-old featherweight Timothy Cuamba (7-1), who earned a hard-fought decision over Mateo Vogel (8-3) in a competitive contest that ultimately came down to the second round.
Cuamba lead the dance in Round 1 with his striking, including a nasty left hand to the body followed by a right hand over the top that caught Vogel clean; however Vogel turned the tables in Round 3, securing a slick takedown that resulted in nearly three minutes of control time on Cuamba’s back, much of which was spent fishing for a rear-naked choke. In the end, all three judges gave Cuamba the victory with unanimous 29-28 scores, favoring Cuamba’s striking in a tight second round, all of which was spent on the feet.
White praised Cuamba’s potential following the bout, but said he did not believe the American was ready for the UFC.
- Carlos Prates def. Mitch Ramirez via KO (punch) at 1:14 of Round 2
- Marco Tulio def. Yousri Belgaroui via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
- Timothy Cuamba def. Mateo Vogel via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
- Thomas Peterson def. Chandler Cole via submission (kimura) at 1:08 of Round 2
- Bolaji Oki def. Dylan Salvador via TKO (strikes) at 2:46 of Round 1