All five winners on DWCS Season 7, Week 1 earned UFC contracts, but one winner shined in particular.
Aussie Tom Nolan delivered a highlight-reel knockout in his performance and thus put himself a cut above the rest of the winners, who all went to the scorecards in bouts of fluctuating entertainment.
DWCS Season 7, Week 1 took place at UFC APEX in Las Vegas and aired on ESPN+. Below is a full rundown of the fights.
Kickboxing standout Almeida surprises with grappling
Where Almeida surprised is in what happened next: he got up. And he continued to deny the takedown, reverse position, and even find his way to a dominant position that earned 10-8 scores in the second round. By the end of the middle frame, he was pounding on a miserable Fernando, who was stuck in an inverted triangle and taking heavy shots from the bottom.
Fernando took an opportunity to get top position on a slip from Almeida, but not even that advantage would be fulfilled when Almeida found his way back to the feet and continued to dominate the action. The ex-kickboxer earned scores of 30-26, 29-28 and 29-27 for the unanimous decision.
Nolan starches trash-talking Grad
Apparently, Bogdan Grad was talking trash to Tom Nolan before their fight. That backfired massively.
The 6-3 Nolan expertly used his height and reach to tenderize the midsection of Grad. Then he got inside to land a left hook that sent his opponent to the canvas. Upon contact, Grad woke up. Then another left slammed into his jaw, and he went out at 1:23 of the first round.
Machado wins heavyweight snoozer
Caio Machado pitched a shutout on scorecards (30-27 X 3), but only because his opponent, Kevin Szafalrski, checked out long before the decision was read.
So complete was Szafalrski’s failure to deliver that it soiled the wide-swinging Machado’s win. Afterward, the Brazilian celebrated like he’d earned a contract, which like his opponent had eluded him in Season 6 due to complications outside the cage.
The problem was that Machado didn’t get a true test of his skills. Szafalrski sought to press him against the cage, and yet do nothing with the position. Over three rounds, significant strikes remained in the double digits for the Polish heavyweight, whose reported resume included a long training stint with Jon Jones. It was, at best, a regional MMA heavyweight bout, never a good thing for those looking to make the jump.
Exciting Talbott denies DWCS vet Cortez Jr.
Payton Talbott’s relentless forward pressure initially gave Reyes Cortez Jr. an easy target to land counters, which he took advantage of with hard leg legs and a nasty elbow from the clinch. When none of Reyes Cortez Jr.’s shots slowed the unshakeable Talbott, things started to get worse in a hurry for the brother of UFC flyweight Tracey Cortez.
By the end of the second, Cortez Jr. was cut, bleeding and exhausted, the victim of dozens of punches and kicks. Talbott, who wowed with a flip out of a potential takedown, quickly broke Cortez Jr.’s attack in the third and continued to punish until an errant kick gave him a much-needed break. For his pause, he was awarded several stiff knees as he shot for takedowns. He never got one, and Talbott battered him to the final bell. Cortez Jr.’s second try at a UFC contract faltered, and Talbott took home three 29-28 scores.
Heavy hands win war for Borjas
After tasting Kevin Borjas’ right hand, Marlon Moraes protege Victor Dias made it a priority to executive a Khabib Nurmagomedov-like grappling attack. He initially had success with that, at least until Borjas’ worked out his anti-wrestling and got more time to practice that power punch – and a sweet left hook to the gut.
Over the next two rounds, Borjas got plenty of practice on the feet with Dias, who was exhausted by Round 3 and swinging wild shots that left him a sitting duck. With all the damage done by Lima, Peru, native Borjas, the unanimous decision (via unanimous 29-28 scores) was a sure thing.
Full DWCS Season 7, Week 1 results:
Cesar Almeida def. Lucas Fernando via unanimous decision (30-26, 29-28, 29-27)
Tom Nolan def. Bogdan Grad via KO (punches) - Round 1, 1:23
Caio Machado def. Kevin Szafalrski via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Payton Talbott def. Reyes Cortez Jr. via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Kevin Borjas def. Victor Dias via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)