The Dana White Tuesday Night Contender Series once again provided much excitement in showcasing great up and coming talent. In the first episode fighters Kurt Holobaugh and Boston Salmon earned contracts from the UFC. Last night, highly rated prospect Sean O’Malley earned a contract with a TKO stoppage of Alfred Khashakyan. O’Malley is now 8-0 and a very exciting fighter to watch due to his striking style which often comes with reckless abandon. The night featured a few other notable performances, the purest being from Thanh Le who finished Lazar Stojadinovic with a lethal head kick. Based on the the first two weeks of action and the contracts awarded, it is now clear the offers are semi predetermined.
In week one this conspiracy theory began to arise when looking at the offers made. It seems the UFC President knows who he wants to give a contract to as long as they take care of business during the fight. Kurt Holobaugh was surely deserving of the contract, but Boston Salmon didn’t do anything spectacular. One could easily argue Heavyweight Azunna Anyanwu was more deserving of the offer for his second round TKO of long time journeyman Greg Rebello. The fact of the matter is Dana White had predetermined the 26 year old, now 6-1, Salmon had far more upside than the 35 year old 14-4 Anyanwu.
Episode two was another clear example of this predetermination. Sean O’Malley was the guy Dana had his eye on. To give credit where it is deserved, O’Malley took care of business with an outstanding finish. The issue is whether he was most deserving on the card. O’Malley went into the cage looking to brawl and at times reminded me of Yair Rodriguez with his unconventional and at times wild striking. Due to this, he absorbed a good amount of punishment and found himself in what Snoop referred to as the “take da booty position”, better known as bottom position.
Despite finding himself in these non-dominant positions, he walked out of the cage with a stoppage victory. The reality is, Thanh Le was the person who should have walked out of the building with a contract offer.
Thanh Le, a now 7-1 prospect with all victories coming by way of stoppage, had what is called a “flawless victory” in Mortal Kombat. The issue with Le is he wasn’t the guy that the UFC President wanted and he fought far too smart. He used his physical advantages to batter Lazar Stojadinovic and eventually finish the fight in the second round. Before knocking out Stojadinovic he did many things to prove he is the more complete prospect as of right now. He started slow, something that Dana surely does not want to see, but shows intelligence. In fighting an opponent on short notice without a ton of preparation it shows maturity to get comfortable early on. Additionally, he fought off a takedown attempt with no issues and absorbed little to no damage. If the goal of the show is to reward the night’s top performance with a contract, Dana White got this one wrong.
We will continue to see predetermined contract offers baring victories in this series. In the end every play made by the UFC is about making money. Life isn’t fair, neither is DWTNCS. The fighter who Dana White believes will appeal best to the average fan will continue to receive the golden ticket.