Well, that’s’ a wrap on the first show of the Tuesday Night Contender Series‘ sophomore season. And what a show it was.
Before continuing, check out the full results from the show here.
Tonight, live from the TUF Gym in Las Vegas, Nevada, ten men took to the cage in five fights across five different divisions. All of them had one thing in mind; putting on an impressive showing and being one of a potential two fights to earn a UFC contract following the event.
We saw Kevin Holland put together a striking clinic of sorts on a very game Will Santiago. Montel Jackson dominated Rico DiSicullo en route to a third-round TKO, despite picking up multiple fouls throughout the contest. Chris Curtis utilized his solid striking game to pick apart Sean Lally before finishing him with a sweet hook kick in round three.
Three solid candidates for a UFC contract were victorious in those three bouts. But neither of them – even very surprisingly Chris Curtis – did not receive one following the event.
Alonzo Menifield and Greg Hardy, however, did.
In the night’s main event, we saw an intriguing light heavyweight clash.
After a less-than-desired TKO win due to injury during the first season of the Contender Series, Alonzo Menifield returned to the TUF Gym looking to make a statement against Virginia’s Dashawn Boatright.
A veteran of LFA, Menifield entered the fight with a stellar 6-0 record, recording a finish in all six of those outings. Opposite him was a 3-0 knockout-artist in the form of Dashawn Boatright.
There isn’t much to talk about in regards to the fight. The second the bout began, Menifield threw a heavy overhand strike that glanced the temple of Boatright as he (Boatright) whiffed on one of those high-kicks he loves so much.
From there the fight hit the mat and Menifield was relentless for the finish – getting exactly that. All it took was 8-seconds for Menifield to stop Boatright. This punches his ticket to the UFC, and Menifield fully intends on repeating performances just like this when he makes his UFC debut in the near future.
Alonzo Menifield returns with a vengeance, finishing Dawshawn Boatright in eight seconds! He's one of the best light heavyweight prospects around; give that man a contract! #DWTNCS #ContenderSeries pic.twitter.com/ZyZkRFrQzL
— Kyle Johnson (@Maldobabo) June 13, 2018
Immediately after hearing the announcement stating he had been signed, Menifield was interviewed by Laura Sanko backstage and had this to say:
“This has all been a learning experience, you know. Fighting in smaller organizations, and then having this same opportunity not go the best last year. But now, now this feels great. I feel like I’m on another level now. I plan to be a top dog (at LHW in the UFC) and I say that in all my interviews. I plan to be a top dog at 205 and make my name known at that division. I’m coming to fight Y’all. There it is.”
At the halfway point of the show, the big boys took to the cage. And things got wild quick.
It was a battle between ex-NFLers and collegiate football stars, as the controversial Ole Miss & Carolina Panthers alum Greg Hardy took on former defensive end, Austen Lane.
Greg Hardy was making his professional debut following a 3-0 run as an amateur. Opposite him was the already tested Austen Lane who had amassed a 4-0 record as a pro following a 5-0 amateur run.
So, on paper, this was Lane’s fight… right?
Wrong. The two immediately began to exchange, with Greg Hardy even launching a frontkick to the dome of Lane early on. But, at about 55-seconds into round one, Hardy cracked Lane with a wild right-hook. Lane’s legs gave out briefly as the former defensive end appeared to be headed for the canvas.
Mid-fall, he seemed to recover but was clearly still out of it as he turned his head to the right, effectively looking out into the audience. So Hardy then launched a left-hand at an already dazed and confused Lane, and that sealed the deal.
Uh oh. In a clash of former NFL defensive ends, objectionable former Pro Bowler Greg Hardy knocks out Austen Lane. He is probably the favorite to earn a UFC contract. #DWTNCS #ContenderSeries pic.twitter.com/OTKvYc78fR
— Kyle Johnson (@Maldobabo) June 13, 2018
Now, here is where things get confusing. Hardy did not technically get a UFC contract despite Dana White claiming as much when first asked. Instead, he will be receiving a developmental deal with the company. What that entails remains to be seen.
White acknowledged the potential that Greg Hardy has in a less-than-stellar and severely lacking heavyweight division. But, considering his lack of experience. They would like him to get a little bit of experience beforehand – while also signing him to a contract of some sort to ensure that no one else can nab the potential talent that is Greg Hardy.
Much like Menifield, Hardy was interviewed by Laura Sanko immediately after the announcement, saying:
“This is awesome news. I got an opportunity to show what I’ve got, and now I gotta go back, work hard, and come back even better than before. It’s exciting, it’s everything I could ask for. I just wanna get back in the ring, you know. Whatever show it is, I just want the opportunity to get back in there and fight, man. I’m having the time of my life, and I’m really enjoying it.”
“Between the NFL and now MMA, this is definitely the top feelings I’ve ever had. There’s nothing like being in the octagon, facing another man and a worthy opponent. But transitioning has been very hard. This is probably the hardest work I’ve ever done, but that’s just made this all 10x sweeter, you know.”
If you’ve yet to watch the show, I’d highly recommend it. You can do so right here.