Contender Series Recap: Season 2 Week 1 – Greg Hardy, Alonzo Menifield Claim Contracts

The Dana White Tuesday Night Contender Series is back, ladies and gentlemen.

The show, which received much acclaim after a successful first season, features up-and-coming fighters looking to break into the UFC.

The season opener will feature five fights, including a much-talked-about heavyweight matchup between ex-NFL defenders, turned MMA fighters, the polarizing Greg Hardy and the undefeated Austen Lane.

 

Will Santiago vs. Kevin Holland

The first fight of the Season 2 opener of the Contender Series was contested between Will “The Brown Bomber” Santiago (9-5) and Kevin “Trailblazer” Holland (12-3).

The first round began will a testy feeling out process. Santiago, who stands eight inches shorter than Holland, tried to unravel the puzzle of distance. He did just that, landing a heavy punch and rushing the taller fighter. A scramble ensued, and Santiago was able to snap down the neck of Holland on the ground. Holland used a sweep to create separation, and the two regained their footings.

The remainder of the round was contested largely on the feet, with one prevailing theme: distance. With an eleven and a half inch reach advantage, Holland was almost wholly able to keep Santiago at bay. He landed a series of knees to the chin of the Jackson-Wink product, most notably with a flying knee that came late in the round.

Despite this, it appeared as though Santiago was landing the heavier punches.

The two fighters wasted no time engaging in the second round. Holland experimented with several spinning attacks, landing glancing kicks and backfists. Santiago seemed to struggled closing distance, but landed a massive, looping hook at the three minute mark.

Holland recovered nicely, landing a right hand, an uppercut, and a knee of his own, stunning Santiago momentarily. The combination opened a cut under the left eye of Santiago, as Holland began to settle into a cycle of keeping the distance with jabs and kicks, then suddenly exploding forwards.

The second round ended will both men adjusting to each other’s power.

In the third round, Santiago landed a huge left hand, flash-dropping Holland. A scramble led to Holland on top position, and he quickly returned to the feet. Both men smiled, laughing to one another in the center of the Octagon.

Holland shows off his confidence, waving his arms in an Anderson Silva-esque style, even slapping Santiago across the face, proclaiming, “that’s that Diaz,” referring to the Stockton-born UFC star.

Santiago seemed resigned to seeking the one-shot KO victory, abandoning his attempts to close the distance while finding himself on the end of jabs and kicks from Holland.

In the final minute, Santiago picked up a momentary takedown, but Holland soon got back to his feet. In the final ten seconds, Holland went for broke, jumping guard to attempt an armbar, which he failed to secure.

Holland, 25, won the fight by decision, the first decision win of his career. Speaking about the fight, Holland critiqued his performance, telling Laura Sanko he did not feel he did enough to earn a contract from Dana White.”No, not really,” he said.

Kevin Holland def. Will Santiago via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)

 

Montel Jackson vs. Rico DiSciullo

Bantamweights took the stage next, and New England native Rico DiSciullo (9-1) took on Montel “Quick” Jackson (5-0).

The first round began quickly, as both fighters exchanged a variety of kicks. DiSciullo was the aggressor early, but Jackson started to find his rhythm as the round progressed.

Jackson landed a clean combination against the cage, and followed up with a knee. DiSciullo, stunned, backed up to the fence and covered up. Jackson swarmed, and dropped DiSciullo immediately. A vicious spate of ground and pound ensued, but an elbow to the back of the head of DiSciullo caused a pause in the action.

Jackson landed the illegal elbow, prompting Herb Dean to take a point from the undefeated fighter. The two fighters restarted in the center of the Octagon.

After a minute or so on the feet, a Jackson knee to the body of DiSciullo landed flush, but the shin followed tp the groin via the same strike.

Another pause in the action took place, and both DiSciullo and Jackson were visibly – and audibly – frustrated by the two illegal strikes, albeit for obviously different reasons.

Round two saw both fighters open with strikes, but Jackson quickly initiated a takedown. He slammed DiSciullo momentarily, and took him down once again a short time later.

After a sequence in the clinch, Jackson caught a beautiful slam, landing in side control. DiSciullo used his grappling to get to a better position, but Jackson was able to pin him against the cage.

DiSciullo rolled for kneebar, but failed to secure position. Jackson ended the round riding DiSciullo, landing strikes while maintaining dominant position on the ground.

In the third round, fought as if he were down two rounds. He initiated exchanges early, throwing heavy strikes. Jackson stayed composed, but landed yet another illegal blow. As DiSciullo closed the distance, he ran into the outstretched hand of Jackson, leading to an eye poke, a pause in the action, and a visit from the ringside physician.

Herb Dean takes another point from Jackson, the second point he has lost due to fouls.

Jackson, down two points on the scorecards, took the judges out of the equation in the third round. The 6-0 fighter landed an impeccably timed knee, leading to a massive cut on the forehead of DiSciullo, and he quickly followed up with combinations.

After a swarm of punches to the covered head of DiSciullo, Herb Dean stopped the fight in the third round.

Montel Jackson def. Rico DiSciullo via third round TKO

 

Greg Hardy vs. Austen Lane

The most anticipated fight of the night took place in the heavyweight division. Neither fighter had ever gone past the first round in their respective careers, and that streak continued tonight, as Greg Hardy (1-0) took on Austen Lane (4-1).

An immediate clash began the first round, as both fighters threw heavy punches. Lane suffered an eye poke, pausing the action.

Hardy then landed a terrifyingly powerful right hook, separating Lane from his consciousness. Lane, dazed, stood back up, but was caught with another massive punch, ending the fight by first round knockout.

Greg Hardy picks up the first finish of Season 2 of the Contender Series, and sets himself up as the favorite to secure a contract from Dana White. Speaking to Laura Sanko, Hardy says he is “ready for the big show.”

Hardy, of course, has garnered significant controversy for his checkered past, which includes domestic violence.

Greg Hardy def. Austen Lane by first round KO 

 

Chris Curtis vs. Sean Lally

Military vet, Sean “The Unpredictable One” Lally (7-3), took on Cage Titans champion, Chris “The Action Man” Curtis (19-5), in the fourth fight of the card.

A touch of gloves kick off the first round, as the so-called “Battle of New England” began. Lally threw early and often, but Curtis’ veteran savvy allowed him to slip just out of range. The twenty-three fight veteran showed his composure in the first two minutes, opening a cut on the nose of Lally early.

The first round, contested on the feet, was largely a feeling out process. While both fighters landed shots, the round was relatively uneventful. Finally, Lally finished the round with a strong one-two.

Curtis landed a big left straight against the cage in the second round, weakening the knees of Lally. They reset in the center of the Octagon, but Lally was firing back straight away.

Despite Lally’s pressure and output, Curtis remained poised and settled into his range on the outside. Curtis put together a slick combination in the final seconds of the second round.

Lally started the third round aggressively, backing up Curtis with his punches. A striking battle continued through the third round, until the three minute mark.

A fresh, patient Curtis landed a vicious, stunning hook kick, knocking out Lally emphatically. Herb Dean steps in as Curtis follows up with punches.

Chris Curtis def. Sean Lally via third round TKO

 

Alonzo Menifield vs. Dashawn Boatwright

The main event of the evening, also known as the featured fight, took place between Alonzo Menifield (7-0) and Dashawn “Buck” Boatwright (3-1) in the light heavyweight division.

The entirety of the fight took eight seconds. The recap you’re about to read will take longer than the fight.

Boatwright opened with a headkick, which threw him off balance. Then, a right hand over the top from Menifield pushed Boatwright further to the ground, where he proceeded to pound out his opponent with punches, en route to the fastest finish in Contender Series history.

Alonzo Menifield def. Dashawn Boatwright via first round TKO

Contract Winners

After the first episode of Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series, two fighters received contracts for their efforts.

Greg Hardy received a UFC contract, which saw him score a massive first round knockout in his professional debut. White told Laura Sanko they were looking to put Hardy in a developmental program of sorts, to help him gain experience.

Alonzo Menifield received a UFC contract for his eight-second knockout, which marked his second win on the Contender Series.

 

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Hey, all! My name is Michael Fiedel, and I'm from Fort Lauderdale, Florida. I love everything there is about MMA, particularly jiu jitsu. I do my best to cover what's going on in the sport, and my favorite thing to do is cover up-and-coming prospects. Thanks for reading!

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