Photo by Chris Unger/DWTNCS LLC
The world’s “toughest job interview” continues this evening as 10 fighters “vie to fulfill their dreams of earning a UFC contract.”
We’re not over this week’s hump just yet, but there’s still cause for celebration. Dana White’s “Contender Series” once again returns to ESPN+ and Fight Pass tonight (Tues., Aug. 20, 2019) with 10 more ambitious up-and-comers looking for an Ultimate Fighting Championships (UFC) roster spot. Last week’s festivities saw three fighters secure UFC contracts and one other, main event winner William Knight, walk away with a developmental contract.
Leon Shahbazyan (7-1), brother of UFC prospect Edmen Shahbazyan, gets another shot after failing his medicals earlier this season ahead of a fight with Brok Weaver, challenging the six-fight win streak of Philip “The Fresh Prince” Rowe (6-2). Fans will also get to see The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 27 competitor Ricky Steele (5-0) face Ring of Combat Bantamweight champion Phil Caracappa (8-0).
‘Contender Series’ Quick Results:
Leon Shahbazyan vs. Philip Rowe — Rowe def. Shahbazyan by TKO (punches) at 0:16 of Round Three
Marcos Brigagao vs. Jamal Pogues — Pogues def. Brigagao by unanimous decision (30-27 x3)
Desmond Torres vs. Steve Garcia Jr. — Garcia def. Torres by TKO (punches and elbows) at 4:35 of Round One
Micol Di Segni vs. Mallory Martin — Martin def. Di Signi by unanimous decision (30-27 x2, 29-28)
Ricky Steele vs. Phil Caracappa — Steele def. Caracappa by split decision (28-29, 29-28 x2)
‘Contender Series’ Play-by-Play Results:
170 lbs.: Leon Shahbazyan vs. Philip Rowe
Round one: Both men staying at range early. Shahbazyan on the front foot. Head kick attempt. One minute in. Body kick from Rowe. Elbow from Shahbazyan on the fence. Leg kick lands. Shahbazyan catches a kick and drops Rowe with a combination. He tries to pound him out, but Rowe makes it to his feet. Shahbazyan still on the advance and throwing heat. Good body shot as Rowe throws back two minutes in. Body kick lands for Shahbazyan. Rowe still circling, seems to have recovered. Right cross by Shahbazyan and they trade rights. 1-2 connects for him. Left hook upstairs. Two minutes to go,
Rowe tries a front kick. Shahbazyan winging his right hand, eats an uppercut and comes back with a 3-2. Rowe tries a jumping knee, lands a leg kick. Shahbazyan comes back with a 1-2 to the body. One minute to go. Good right cross by Rowe, looking to open up on the fence. Shahbazyan forces him back with a kick. Body kick lands. A couple more. 10-9 Shahbazyan.
Round two: 2-1 and low kick land for Rowe. Shahbazyan with a front kick downstairs and he shoots on the fence. Rowe reverses position. One minute in. Still keeping Shahbazyan on the fence. Shahbazyan reverses and they start trading. Rowe hurts Shahbazyan and he’s on the attack, unloading everything he’s got. Shahbazyan manages to hit a takedown into half guard, avoiding a sweep attempt two minutes in. The next sweep attempt is successful and puts Rowe on top in guard. Shahbazyan with a body triangle. Two minutes to go.
Shahbazyan scoots to the fence. Rowe postures up for some solid punches. One minute to go. Elbows from Rowe. Harder ones soon after. Rowe stands over him and just blasts him with punches and hammerfists until the bell. Shahbazyan doesn’t look like he’s in great shape after that. 10-9 Rowe.
Round three: Rowe opens with a right cross, then another that has Shahbazyan retreating. Rowe forces him back to the fence and tears into his head and body with punches until Shahbazyan goes down.
Final result: Rowe def. Shahbazyan by TKO (punches)
205 lbs.: Marcos Brigagao vs. Jamal Pogues
Round one: Both men come out trading, landing huge shots. Pogues seems to get the better of it, but tries to shoot. Stuffed. Brigagao with a knee to the body, then a good body kick. Pogues ducks a left straight for a takedown into guard. Brigagao trying to kick him off, then threaten a leg, but can’t do so. Pogues postured up, avoids a triangle. Two minutes in. Brigagao works his way up from an omoplata sweep attempt. He backs Pogues to the fence, gets taken down again. Pogues looking for the back. Two minutes to go.
Pogues transitions to an armbar attempt. Struggling to break Brigagao’s grip. He can’t do so but wins the scramble to stay on top. Brigagao kicks his way up, pressed against the fence. They separate. One minute to go. Pogues tries a jumping knee in the clinch. Pogues shoots under a three-piece for another takedown into guard. Brigagao threatens with a half-formed triangle attempt. 10-9 Pogues.
Round two: Pogues tries a couple of early head kicks. Counter right by Pogues and he ties up. One minute in. Heavy punches by Pogues on the break. Brigagao tries to push forward and Pogues again ducks a straight left to take him down. On top in half guard. Brigagao regains full guard. Two minutes in. Pogues trying to pass, unable to. He postures out of an armbar attempt, lands punches as Brigagao tries to stand. Clean head kick connects for him as Brigagao makes it to his feet but the Brazilian somehow absorbs it. Two minutes to go.
Another duck under a straight left, lands in side control this time. Brigagao uses the fence to stand more quickly this time. Knee to the body by Pogues, body kick by Brigagao. 2-3 from Pogues with a minute to go. Straight right. Clash of heads, body kick by Pogues. Brigagao still marching after him, to his credit. Pogues exits with a right hand. 10-9 Pogues.
Round three: Brigagao fires an inside leg kick, lands a counter left as Pogues opens up. Pogues fakes a shot, lands a right hook. Counter right straight. Body kick by Brigagao. Another faked shot to right hand from Pogues. He ducks another left for another takedown a minute in. Pogues posturing up, landing some decent punches as he passes. Brigagao tries a triangle, Pogues throws his legs aside and looks for the back. Brigagao makes his way up, continues his forward march. Counter right from Pogues with two minutes to go.
Another counter right. He ducks a punch, ties up. They separate, another double-leg by Pogues into guard with a minute to go. Brigagao rolls to his knees and Pogues grabs the front headlock. Brigagao wades after him, shoved to the mat. 10-9 Pogues.
Final result: Pogues def. Brigagao by unanimous decision
135 lbs.: Desmond Torres vs. Steve Garcia Jr.
Round one: Garcia goes for an immediate takedown, can’t establish. Torres puts him on the fence. Body kick from Garcia as they separate, Torres ties up again and looks for a standing back take. One minute in. He nearly gets the back take, can’t complete it. Kicks from Garcia, hard uppercut. Torres lands a leg kick, eats an elbow, comes back with a right hand. Combination by Garcia, hard elbow inside two minutes in. Torres shoots and runs the pipe, can’t establish. Pressing him against the fence. Garcia trying to reverse, can’t do so. Now he does and changes levels. Two minutes to go.
Torres defending with a kimura grip, eats a knee. Garcia with an elbow on the break. Two-piece lands. He sends one a series of body kicks. Step-in knee blocked but he hurts Torres with a left hand. Garcia on the attack, lands an elbow and uppercut. Spinning elbow attempt, body shot. Torres falls under the onslaught and Garcia pounds him out.
Final result: Garcia def. Torres by TKO (punches and elbows)
115 lbs.: Micol Di Segni vs. Mallory Martin
Round one: Martin lands an early knee. 1-2. Another 1-2, Di Signi answers with a right cross. Overhand right by Di Signi. Outlanding Martin so far. 1-2 from Martin and she shoots a minute in. Good takedown into side control. Di Signi regains half guard. Back to side, back to half. Two minutes in. Short elbows from Martin. She looks for mount, settles for side control, immediately back to half guard. More short shots. Two minutes to go.
Di Signi rolls to her knees, works her way up. Martin uses a reap to take her back down into half guard. One minute to go. Di Signi rolls to her knees and stands, has to fight her way out of a guillotine. Jab lands for Martin. 10-9 Martin.
Round two: Back to trading punches in the center. Body shot from Di Signi. Overhand right. Shifting left. Martin looking to trade with her, eats a 1-2 and lands one of her own. One minute in. Martin low kick, Di Signi jabs. Another 1-2 from Martin, tries to shoot and eats a 1-2 in return. Low kick, body jab by Di Signi. Martin jab met by a 1-2. They trade rights. Another overhand by Di Signi two minutes in. Trading in the center. Clean 1-2 from Di Signi and Martin takes her to the fence. She drags her into side control with two minutes to go.
Di Signi regains half guard. One minute to go. Di Signi rolls to her knees and stands, trading rights on the break. More right hands by Di Signi. Wild spinning backfist attempt. 1-2 from Martin in return. Di Signi tries to spin and gets taken down this time into guard. 10-9 Di Signi.
Round three: Back to trading in the center. Neither landing super clean. Hard 1-2 from Di Signi as I say that. One minute in. Right hand lands for Martin. Di Signi comes back with an overhand and Martin shoots. Outside trip puts her in side control. Di Signi stands, dragged back down. Martin looking for the back two minutes in. One hook in on a turtling Di Signi, landing punches. Di Signi works her way to her feet and lands some left hands in the clinch. Martin reverses position on the fence, eats some knees. Two minutes to go.
They separate. Di Signi tries to spin again. Glancing 1-2, right hand downstairs. Superman punch connects. 1-2 upstairs, body shot, right cross. She tries another Superman punch. 1-2 from Martin connects. One minute in. Martin knee, Di Signi right hand. Di Signi swinging big, but not landing. Overhand right lands inside. They trade jabs. Martin shoots, stuffed. Close round. 10-9 Di Signi.
Final result: Martin def. Di Signi by unanimous decision
135 lbs.: Ricky Steele vs. Phil Caracappa
Round one: Caracappa slips throwing a kick. He tries to blitz, eats a pair of low kicks. He wades into the clinch against the fence. One minute in. Steele separates 25 seconds later. Low kick from Caracappa. Steele switching stance, tries a head kick and lands a leg kick. He lands a counter knee and defends a takedown against the cage. Two minutes in. Caracappa gets him to a knee. Steele working to stand, Caracappa pulls his foot out. Steele stands and separates with two minutes to go.
Front kick to the body by Steele. Head kick attempt. Flicking out some more kicks, lands one to the thigh. Caracappa blitzes in and grabs a body lock. He completes an outside reap into half guard with a minute to go. Steele tries to scramble to his feet and Caracappa jumps on his back. Steele shakes him off, sets up in guard. 10-9 Caracappa.
Round two: Steele counters a takedown and lands on top in half guard against the fence. Caracappa trying to stand a minute in. Steele fires a knee on the way up, tries to change levels. Knees from Steele. They separate and Caracappa tries to flurry. Caracappa back on the advance, lands a pair of hooks and shoots. Elbows from Steele two minutes in. Caracappa gets a body lock. Ref wants more action. Two minutes to go.
Steele reverses and knees his thighs. Elbow attempt. He separates for a second to land a right hand. One minute to go. Knee and shoulder strike. He tries a spinning elbow and lands a right hand before clinching again. Caracappa slips on a kick after separating. 10-9 Steele.
Round three: Caracappa again wading in, flinging haymakers. Steele flicking out kicks, lands a leg kick. Steele just pushes him away when Caracappa threatens a takedown. Jab from Steele, body shots by Caracappa a minute in. Low-high hooks from Caracappa and he shoots again. Steele reverses on the fence two minutes in, lands a hard elbow upstairs. Shoulder strikes. Two minutes to go.
Steele has to know he’s not getting a contract for this, right? Suddenly, Caracappa blasts him with a pair of elbows that visibly rattle Steele. He keeps throwing, pulls guard on a guillotine when Steele shoots. One minute to go. Steele waits it out, pops his head free. Both throwing on the ground. 10-9 Steele.
Final result: Steele def. Caracappa by split decision
For more “Contender Series” news, notes, and updates, including lists of those who receive contracts, be sure to hit up our comprehensive archive right here.