Contract winner Bevon Lewis (pic via Instagram)

DWTNCS Ep. 4 Results: Bevon Lewis & Jordan Espinosa earn UFC contracts in their second chance at Contender Series

Las Vegas, Nevada – Dana White and his talent-spotting associates watched on as 10 surging contenders auditioned for a spot in the UFC, but only 2 showed the kind of firepower necessary to earn a big show contract at the 4th episode of DWTNCS 2018.  Read on for recaps and clips of all the action from Vegas on a night that saw Bevon Lewis and Jordan Espinosa make the best of their second chance to impress on the Contender Series.

 

155: Kevin Aguilar (15-1, #43 World FW)  UD3   Joey Gomez (7-1, #366 World)

The book on BJ Penn trainee Joey Gomez reads “Khabib-like grappling”, according to Michael Bisping (and Nolan King’s prefight interview), but he also showed off nice hands in the opening 75 seconds with a flush left, a right, and an uppercut for good measure. With 4 time LFA champ Kevin Aguilar slightly wobbled, Gomez achieved his patented power takedown and bloodied his man with left handed ground strikes. Aguilar has proved his toughness over the years, as much as any prospect on the regional circuit, and he struggled back to the feet. But Gomez continued to show off ambidextrous boxing tools as he tagged the AXS Fights veteran during the first round’s final moments.  The LFA champ was patient as he tried to stayed out of grappling range and land strikes in a lower-output start to round 2.  Yet Gomez wouldn’t be denied as he ducked under for a takedown and controlled the middle portion of round 2 with position and ground strikes.  Aguilar appeared to need a finish heading into the final round and he landed a spit-loosening howitzer of a left hook early.  But Gomez – not to be confused with erstwhile UFC bantamweight Joey “KO King” Gomez – passed the chin check and kept his composure to the final bell in the face of Aguilar’s late offense.  Not a great round 3 for Gomez, and his lack of activity ended up costing him as Kevin Aguilar’s superior cardio helped him squeak out a 29-28, 29-28, 28-29 split decision victory – good enough for the W, but not exactly the kind of triumph that sets Dana’s world on fire.   This was pretty solid work from Joey Gomez as well, as he easily could have walked away with the win; instead the Hawaiian learned a lesson about the improvements that he needs to make if he wants to conquer a world class lightweight in a 15 minute fight.

 

185: Bevon Lewis (6-0, #211 World)  TKO1-Knees  Alton Cunningham (5-1, #246 World)

Two-time LFA victor Alton Cunningham never got untracked in this fight as Bevon Lewis put him on the defensive and scored a round 1 finish without taking a lick of damage. Lewis touched his man a few times from range in the first few seconds before pushing the contest into the clinch.  With his man tied up Lewis dominated with clinch knees and elbows that put Cunningham down against the cage.  The underdog struggled back to his feet, only to eat additional knees to the face that elicited the round 1 referee stoppage.  It’s debatable whether or not the ref jumped in prematurely, but there’s no doubt that Bevon Lewis dominated every second of this battle from bell-to-decision.  This was just the kind of performance that Lewis, who’s already under developmental contract with UFC after winning a 2017 Contender Series bout, needed to get called up to the big show.

 

145: Ricky Palacios (10-1, =#408 World)  UD3  Toby Misech (10-6, #172 World)

Five time Combate Americas winner Ricky Palacios stood and threw hands with Toby Misech from the start of round 1 and appeared to get the better of the early exchanges, including a pair of sturdy straight rights that stopped the Hawaiian in his tracks.  The technical striking battle continued in round 2, as southpaw Misech seemed to gradually pick up steam with his forward pressure. Palacios fired back with a series of strong leg kicks and opportunistic body shots that kept Misech at bay.  Both featherweights picked up the pace with kick heavy attacks as they showed urgency in round 3, but neither had the power to seriously damage their opponent.  While Palacious never seemed close to a finish, he landed a nicely timed uppercut and a head kick that qualified as 2 of the most significant strikes of the final stanza and forced Misech to retreat for the final minutes of the contest.  All three judges saw this bout in favor of Ricky Palacios, who extended his win streak to seven with a fifth consecutive decision victory.

 

125: Jordan Espinosa (13-5, 2-0 DWTNCS, #73 World)  TKO3  Rilley Dutro (13-4, PXC champ, 2-0 Shooto Japan, #15 World)

Dana White has shown some tendency to overlook strong 125 pound performances, but Rilley Dutro and Jordan Espinosa did their best to keep the boss’s attention in a roller coaster contest that featured multiple knockdowns from both men. Dutro put Espinosa down in round 1 with a step-in lead left hook, which proved to be his favorite punch throughout the fight.  Espinosa had his moments in round 1, too, with an early takedown and a late knockdown off a left hand counter.  Round 2 was the lull in the storm, as Dutro pressed forward while Espinosa stayed evasive on the back foot.  Then things heated up in the final frame.  Dutro landed a couple more strong punches early, but he found himself struggling to stay in the fight when Espinosa landed a perfect right hand and left head kick followup.  The Hawaiian hung tough, but a final bomb from Espinosa put Dutro down against the cage and elicited the late round 3 TKO stoppage from ref Mark Smith.  That’s two straight Contender Series finishes for Jordan Espinosa, who got the call back tonight after choking out Nick Urso 83 seconds into their Season 1 bout.

 

155: Jalin Turner (7-3, 2-0 Bellator prelims)  KO1  Max Mustaki (6-3, #448 World)

Towering 6’3″ lightweight Jalin Turner entered his bout with brawler Max Mustaki with a relatively thin resume but a whole lot of highlight-reel hype.   Turner managed to avoid his weak area on the mat and deliver a strong five minutes of action on the feet courtesy of a sharp jab and crafty, powerful knees & kicks.  After rocking him a bunch of times, Turner dropped Mustaki with a liver punch that sent the Floridian tumbling to the ground, but credit him for sticking around and swinging back with hellacious haymakers until a badly broken foot forced the doctor to wave off the bout after round 1.   Regardless of the method of stoppage, great performance by Jalin “The Tarantula” Turner in his first opportunity to fight a notable opponent on a big stage.  Keep an eye out for this 23 year old moving forward, contract or no.

 

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