Fight Facts: DWCS Season 3

By Jay Pettry Sep 4, 2019

The ordering process for Ultimate Fighting Championship pay-per-views has changed: UFC 242 is only available on ESPN+ in the U.S.

Fight Facts is a breakdown of all of 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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The third season of Dana White’s Contender Series delivered plenty of great performances and showcased several potential future stars in the sport. After 10 events, Season 3 featured a finish rate drastically lower than the seasons preceding it, a record number of fighters signed by the Ultimate Fighting Championship and the unfortunate statistic of multiple fighters missing weight.

LET’S GET THIS OUT OF THE WAY: Although Contender Series episodes are supposed to have five fights each, Episode 1 only had four because Leon Shahbazyan missed weight badly and was not medically cleared. Therefore, instead of 50 fights after 10 events, this season had 49.

NOT AS MUST-SEE TV: With only 24 finishes in 49 fights, the third season of the Contender Series posted a surprisingly low finish rate of about 49 percent. This is significantly lower than the year before, which had a stellar finish rate of 82.5 percent.

IF THAT WAS THEN, WHAT IS THIS?: Unlike the first two seasons, no event in Season 3 had five stoppages in five fights. This is in sharp contrast to the previous season, where half of the events went 5-for-5 in finishes.

JUDGED IN ITS ENTIRETY: Only two of the first 16 events in DWCS history ever featured at least three fights ending in the hands of the judges. This season, four different shows had this occur. Episode 2 was the first in the promotion’s history to ever have five fights all go the distance.

NOT GETTING OUT QUICK: Twelve of the 49 bouts during the season ended by first-round stoppage (24.5 percent), far lower than last season’s first-round finish rate of 45 percent. It is also lower than the rate from Season 1, in which 30 percent of the fights ended before the opening round concluded.

STILL HITTING AS HEAVY AS EVER: All 13 heavyweight bouts in Contender Series history have ended before the final bell, although Ben Sosoli-Dustin Joynson was stopped due to an inadvertent eye poke.

STILL ON THE LINE: Of the 98 fighters to compete this season, 34 came in with unbeaten records and 21 managed to keep their undefeated records intact.

GO BACK TO THE WAY IT USED TO BE: In the first two seasons of the Contender Series, every fighter successfully made weight. This season was a far cry from its predecessors, as three fighters came in heavy and a fourth had a fight scrapped because of his failed weight cut. This weight miss percentage of over six percent is substantially higher than that of the UFC.

PLENTY OF DOTTED LINES: Seven of the 10 events this season awarded at least three contracts to the episode’s respective victors. This is slightly off the mark of Season 2, where six of the eight events gave out at least three contracts. It was still far above the debut season during which only one show bestowed more than two contracts.

THAT’S WHY WE CAN’T HAVE NICE THINGS: Season 3, Episode 3 was the first in the show’s history to grant contracts to every victor. Unfortunately, contract winner Antonio Trocoli tested positive for nandrolone, saw his win overturned to a no-contest and was released.

SIGNING FRENZY: In all, 30 fighters earned UFC contracts after wins, although Trocoli's was later rescinded after his positive drug test. This is quite higher than the previous season, where 22 contracts were doled out, two were signed to developmental deals and one was sent to “The Ultimate Fighter.”

HAVE LFA, WILL TRAVEL: Like the previous seasons, a plurality of victors most recently appeared in the Legacy Fighting Alliance. Of those winners, 75 percent were signed.

IT WAS THE CHARM: Don'Tale Mayes is the first fighter in history to appear three times on DWCS, and after knocking out Ricardo Prasel on Season 3, Episode 4, he finally earned a UFC contract.

EVEN TOUGHER LUCK: Four fighters made their second appearance in the Contender Series after losing the first time around, only to suffer another defeat: Alton Cunningham, Jamie Pickett, Justin Sumter and Karl Reed.

GIANNI’S JUNK: In the 49 bouts to take place on this season of the Contender Series, 21 betting underdogs emerging victorious. Three others closed at pick-’em odds. Of those upsets, five of the losing fighters held odds favoring them above -300.

DID YOU CASH IN?: Yorgan De Castro earned the biggest betting upset in Contender Series history as a +550 underdog when he knocked out Sanford Alton Meeks (-800) on Season 3, Episode 1.

ALMOST A FOREGONE CONCLUSION: Miles Johns closed as a massive -1100 favorite against Richie Santiago, captured a unanimous verdict and was signed to the UFC. All three DWCS fighters who have closed above -1000 -- Johns, Kevin Holland and Antonina Shevchenko -- have won their Contender Series bouts.

NOT SO YOUNG AND ATTRACTIVE, IS HE?: Fourteen fighters over the age of 30 competed on this season. Eight of them won, with four of them getting signed by the UFC. The oldest fighter signed after winning was Omar Antonio Morales Ferrer, who turns 34 in October.

YOU STILL HAVE SPOTS: The youngest fighters signed this season were a pair of 23-year-olds in Aleksa Camur and Brendan Allen. Both recorded finishes to earn contracts.

REMEMBER HUNT VS. STRUVE?: Punahele Soriano overcame the largest reach disadvantage in Contender Series history -- 7.5 inches -- to beat Pickett by unanimous verdict and pick up a UFC contract.

DO YOU WANNA BE A CONTENDER?: Season 2, Episode 8 was the shortest in promotional history, measuring a little under 18 minutes of total fight time. Season 3, Episode 2 was practically the opposite, racking up 75 minutes of cage time -- the maximum possible for a card composed of five three-round bouts.

NO SPEEDY KILLERS: No finish came quicker than 97 seconds during this season. As such, no one broke into the Top 10 for quickest finishes in promotional history.

SHOULD HAVE SENT A CANARY FIRST: Herbert Burns tapped Darrick Minner with a triangle armbar, becoming the first fighter in the Contender Series to submit an opponent with that maneuver.

EVEN IF YOU DON’T FEAR IT, YOU SHOULD RESPECT IT: In putting James Wallace to sleep, Joe Solecki authored a contract-winning performance and pulled off the first technical submission via guillotine choke the Contender Series has seen.

SPREAD YOUR KNEES AND FLY AWAY …: Three flying knee knockouts were pulled off in Season 3, tripling the previous total of stoppages stemming from flying knees. Only Mike Rodriguez scored one earlier during Season 1, Episode 5. All four fighters to win with this spectacular move were signed to the UFC.

WHERE DID THAT CALF KICK COME FROM?: Two different fighters -- de Castro and Morales -- scored leg kick stoppages this season. No such finishes had occurred during the two previous seasons.

NEVER SAY NEVER AGAIN: Coming into their respective bouts in Season 3 of the Contender Series, 13 fighters had never been stopped, five had never suffered a knockout loss and one had never lost by submission.

Sherdog contributing editor Jay Pettry is an attorney and a statistician. Writing about MMA since he started studying the “Eminem Curse” in 2012 and working 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. Advertisement
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