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I hate when mixed martial arts fans and media members complain about oversaturation of the sport. Why would MMA fans not want to see more fights? Dana White’s Contender Series helps curb my hunger for violence, allowing me to watch live fights during a weekday. I love it.
The series, which is entering its third season, returns this Tuesday on ESPN+. There are only two changes from the sophomore season. Las Vegas will still play host to the events, but instead of the fighters throwing down at the UFC Training Center, they will battle at the brand-new UFC Apex on the company’s campus. In addition, the season has been expanded from eight weeks to 10. Fight cards will consist of prospects and grizzled veterans, all vying for an elusive Ultimate Fighting Championship contract. Over the first two seasons, the show has seen 39 fighters book trips to the UFC, from Sean O’Malley, Geoff Neal and Grant Dawson to Maycee Barber, Ian Heinisch and Sodiq Yusuff. Season 3 looks just as promising.
Now to the preview for DWTNCS Season 3, Episode 1:
Meeks is a good athlete. Besides playing football at Iowa State University, he has wrestled at a high level. The Orlando, Florida, resident was a member of the United States Army’s wrestling team and competed in Greco-Roman wrestling on the international level. The 25-year-old trains with the likes of Ronaldo Souza, Mike Perry and Alex Nicholson at Fusion X-Cel. He is a perfect 3-0 in professional MMA. He shows almost nothing in the standup game, shooting for takedowns immediately. The high-level wrestler constantly looks to improve his position on the mat and unleash his clubbing ground-and-pound. Besides not showing much in the standup game, Meeks also lacks cage time. His three professional fights have ended in a combined 3:22. His lack of experience is disconcerting.
De Castro has had a pleasant turnaround. After amassing a losing record as an amateur, the Massachusetts native started his professional career 4-0. The Regiment Training Center export is the former New England Fights cruiserweight champion. De Castro’s speed at heavyweight is his biggest strength. While he lacks technique, he usually beats his opponents to the punch and floors them with plus power. De Castro loves to brawl, as he swings wildly and gambles that he can land the big shot before his opponent does. He throws hard kicks but leaves himself open to be countered because he usually fires them without a setup. De Castro often likes to battle in the clinch, but he is not much of a threat in the takedown department.
I think De Castro’s free-swinging style is tailor-made to be taken down by Meeks. Expect the former Cyclone to duck under a big haymaker from the De Castro and secure a takedown. Once the action hits the ground, the wrestler will give De Castro a shellacking until the referee sees fit to stop it. Meeks wins by first-round TKO and earns himself a UFC contract.
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