Fight Facts: Contender Series Season 2 Midseason Review

By Jay Pettry Jul 16, 2018



Fight Facts is a breakdown of all the interesting information and Octagon oddities on every card, with some puns, references and portmanteaus to keep things fun. These deep stat dives delve into the numbers, providing historical context and telling the stories behind those numbers.

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After the first 4 events of the second season of Dana White's Tuesday Night Contender Series, the promotion proved that is the real future of finding prospects for the Ultimate Fighting Championship. In these four events, the Contender Series featured a 16-fight stoppage streak, a knockout the likes of which we had never even seen by a heavyweight inside the UFC and the biggest upset in the show’s short but memorable history.

FINISH HIM (or her): Through 20 fights in four Contender Series events this season, fighters have finished 17 of them for a finish rate of 85%. That finish rate is higher than any Zuffa-owned organization, Bellator, Invicta FC, or WSOF-PFL.

Well, I’m a Professional - I’m Serious and I’m a Professional: Every single fighter has made weight for their bouts on the Contender Series.

Off the Chain: Spanning from the 9th event to the 12th event, the Contender Series featured a 16-fight stoppage streak with 14 KO/TKOs.

Placement Matters: In only two events out of the 12 held so far, the winner of the first fight on a Contender Series card has been signed to the UFC. Meanwhile, 9 main event winners have been signed, the most of any position on the fight card.

You Get a Contract! You Get a Contract!: At DWTNCS 10, four of the five winners earned UFC contracts, the most in the show’s history. Since DWTNCS 3, every event has offered at least two winners a UFC contract.

High Risk, High Reward: In Season 2 of the Contender Series, 12 fighters have come in undefeated, and only six have kept their streak intact. Of those six winners who remained undefeated, four were given contracts and one was signed to a developmental deal.

It Takes Two: In each of their second appearances with the Contender Series, Bevon Lewis and Jordan Espinosa competed at DWTNCS 12, with both winning by TKO and earning contracts with the UFC.

Way to Play Favorites: Both Kevin Holland and Antonina Shevchenko came in as -1200 favorites, the biggest in Contender Series history, winning their respective bouts against Will Santiago and Jaimee Nievara. They were the only fighters in the show’s history to close as favorites above -750. Every fighter to come in as a -500 favorite or higher has won their bouts.

With Time to Spare: Clocking in at just 24 minutes and 21 seconds, DWTNCS 10 had the shortest amount of fight time of any Contender Series event to date. All five fights ended by stoppage, with only one going into the third round.

Heavy Case of the Spins: At DWTNCS 11, heavyweight Josh Parisian knocked out Greg Rebello in 91 seconds with a spinning back fist. No heavyweight, nor any fighter above welterweight, has ever knocked out their opponent with a spinning back fist in UFC history.

No Reason to Get Upset: Coming in as a +475 underdog, Josh Parisian’s knockout of Greg Rebello (-650) at DWTNCS 11 was the biggest betting upset in Contender Series history.

Are You Experienced?: With 32 career fights prior to his appearance on the Contender Series, Greg Rebello became the most experienced fighter to step foot inside the proving ground.

You’re a Crook, Captain Hook: Winning his fight at DWTNCS 9 with a hook kick and follow-up punches, Chris Curtis was not signed despite landing a kick that had only one fighter had used to finish a fight in UFC history – Shawn Jordan, when he knocked out Derrick Lewis at UFC Fight Night 68 in 2015. Junior dos Santos and Stephen Thompson also knocked their opponents out with spinning variations of the hook kick.

Contract or Bust: After competing in the Contender Series and not winning a UFC contract, Chris Curtis and Greg Rebello both retired from MMA.

Never Say Never Again: Coming into their respective bouts in Season 2 of the Contender Series, 8 fighters had never been stopped, four others had never been knocked out, and no fighter had been signed to the UFC outside of a standard contract or a developmental deal (Josh Parisian was added to the final season of The Ultimate Fighter).

Jay Pettry is an attorney and a statistician. Writing about MMA since he started studying the “Eminem Curse” in 2012, and writing for Vice Sports and Combat Docket along the way, he put together many fight result and entrance music databases to better study the sport. You can find him on twitter at @jaypettry.

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