Fight Facts: Dana White's Contender Series Season 5

By Jay Pettry Nov 8, 2021

Sign up for ESPN+ right here, and you can then stream the Contender Series live on your smart TV, computer, phone, tablet or streaming device via the ESPN app.

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 fifth season of Dana White's Contender Series blazed through 10 episodes in the blink of an eye, awarding more Ultimate Fighting Championship contracts than ever. A few submissions unique to the Contender Series took place this season, which also featured the first deal issued to a losing fighter and a record number of weight misses.

The Series That Can’t Slow Down: While Seasons 2 and 3 took a week off mid-season, and Season 4 took almost too months off, Season 5 was one continuous stretch of 10 weeks of fight cards. Even with COVID-19 scratches and weight misses, Season 5 brought with it 50 fights.

Six-Fight Cards Should Not Be the Norm: Like Season 3 and 4, at least one event in Season 5 featured only four bouts. This happened twice at Weeks 1 and 5. Unlike those past seasons, six matches were staged on weeks 3 and 9 to make up for this and add up to 50 fights.

Jampacked Roster: More than any previous season, Season 5 saw 39 UFC contracts issued to the competitors this season. While 38 winners earned contracts, Carlos Candelario became the first losing fighter in DWCS history to still receive a contract.

C’mon Josh: Although 39 contracts went out, Josh Quinlan received one and then failed a post-fight drug test to have his 47-second knockout overturned to a no contest. It is currently unclear if Quinlan had his offer rescinded as a result.

Contract Overkill: On four of the 10 episodes of the season, UFC President Dana White granted five fighters contracts. Only two previous shows in Contender Series history ended with five UFC deals, with one in Season 3 and another in Season 4.

Contracts Raining Like Confetti: Episodes 1 and 2 of this season saw every victor earn a contract, although the first episode only brought with it four fights. This previously happened one time in Season 3, and two times in Season 4.

Leveling Out: Season 5 of DWCS brought with it a finish rate exactly the same as the year that preceded it. When including the fight later overturned to a no contest, 54% of the bouts ended inside the distance.

There’s Always One: None of the 10 fight cards ended with five stoppages, or even four on four-fight billings. Season 1, 2 and 4 all featured events with a clean slate of finishes.

The 0 Would Go a Lot: Upping the number from the previous year of 25, 30 competitors appeared with unbeaten records of the 100 that fought this season. Only 16 kept their spotless records intact, and 12 of those triumphant earned UFC roster spots.

Unprofessional at the Apex: Not including bouts that were scratched from a bad weight cut, five fighters missed weight ahead of their Season 5 showdowns. This season had more unplanned catchweight fights than all four of the past seasons combined.

Two Stone Heavier: Of the three heavyweight tilts throughout the season, all three men that won were heavier than their opponent. The widest weight discrepancy of the season came between Rizvan Kuniev and Edivan Santos, where Kuniev clocked in 31.5 pounds heavier than his foe and won by third-round knockout.

Punching Down to Competition: The most significant height disparity of the season came between 6-foot-1 A.J. Dobson and 5-foot-7 Hashem Arkhagha. Six inches taller, Dobson throttled his opponent, who also missed weight, in the first round.

LFA Hanging On: Like past seasons, more competitors had fought last under the a href="/organizations/Legacy-Fighting-Alliance-11339">Legacy Fighting Alliance banner than that of any other organization. Ten victors last fought for LFA before prevailing on DWCS, and seven of those were signed.

Rough Sledding for the Shanghai UFC PI: Six different athletes out of China appeared on this season of DWCS. All six had last fought for the Wu Lin Feng promotion before fighting on the Contender Series, but only one got his hand raised. Maheshate – a man with just one billed name – prevailed, and he was signed to the Las Vegas-based organization.

Caio Two-Times: The lone fighter to compete twice throughout the season was Caio Borralho, who closed as an underdog and took a decision over Aaron Jeffery at middleweight. Three weeks later, he returned as a -1100 favorite to knock Jesse Murray out at 205 pounds and earn himself a contract.

Just 8% of the Fights: Fewer than the season before, four women’s bouts took place on Season 5. Two came at strawweight while the other two clocked in at 125 pounds. Jasmine Jasudavicius, Karine Silva and Piera Rodriguez all earned UFC deals from their wins, while Maria Silva did not.

Moneyline Management: Fourteen of the 47 betting underdogs this season won their respective bouts, and three closed as pick-ems. This is a slight step up from the season before (13) but there were more matches.

Gianni Did Nail This One: Maheshate scored the biggest betting upset of the season, and the fifth-largest in DWCS history, when as a +400 underdog he snagged a decision over Achilles Estremadura. Six of the 14 aforementioned underdogs overall clocked in at +200 or higher.

Foregone Conclusions, Both: At -1300 and -1100, respectively, Genaro Valdez and Borralho came in as the only two Season 5 betting favorites above -1000. Both won by knockout, and both scored UFC contracts for their dominant wins.

Questions Upon Questions: Although his date of birth and record are of some disputed, at a reported 40 years of age, Oron Kahlon at 40 came in as the eldest fighter in Contender Series history – the promotion billed him at 36. If Kahlon is indeed 36, the oldest DWCS fighter still did appear this season, as 39-year-old James Barnes fought and lost to Pedro Falcao on Week 8.

Prime Hunters: Fifteen victors came into their bouts at the age of 30 or older in Season 5, far more than Season 4’s total of nine. Of those 15, 12 earned slots on the UFC roster, plus one more for losing signee 30-year-old Candelario.

Barely Out of Diapers: Just like Season 4, one single 21-year-old prevailed during Season 5: Maheshate. He ties Cory McKenna as the fourth-youngest fighter by year of age to be signed for wins on DWCS.

You Gangly, Uncoordinated Winner: All five competitors that came into their bouts with a reach advantage over five inches prevailed this season. The longest reach differential came when Juan Puerta held 8.5 inches over Zhifa Shang, and he won by split verdict.

39 In Time: In 2020, the quickest finish of Season 4 came when Adrian Yanez knocked Brady Huang out in 39 seconds. This year, the fastest finish came at the guillotine choke of Mike Malott, who tapped Shimon Smotritsky in exactly 39 seconds as well. Neither are anywhere close to the record held by Alonzo Menifield’s eight-second win against Dashawn Boatwright in Season 2.

I’m Carryin’ the Wheel: In the final show of the season, Jonas Bilarinho nailed Canaan Kawaihae with a spinning wheel kick to get the win with a minute left in the match. His spinning wheel kick is the first in DWCS history, but he did not end up receiving a contract for his work.

Passing the Bar: For the first time in the history of the Contender Series, a fighter pulled off a kneebar. In the main event of Episode 9, Gadzhi Omargadzhiev snared the submission to get a victory against Jansey Silva, and picked up a contract in the process.

Twist and Pop: A new move for Contender Series fighters, recent UFC victor Albert Duraev made a splash by neck cranking Caio Bittencourt. Eighteen rear-naked chokes have occurred across the Contender Series, but none came by cranking the neck this way.

Blink It Out: Due to an eye poke 10 seconds into the third frame, the bout between Joanderson Sa de Brito and Diego Lopes went to the first technical decision in Contender Series history. Brito got his hand raised, and still managed to earn a UFC contract.

Never Say Never Again: Coming into their respective bouts in Season 5 of the Contender Series, 11 fighters had never been stopped, three had never suffered a knockout loss, and eight had never been beaten on the scorecards.

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