This year’s instalment of Dana White’s Contender Series is moving right along and has been as entertaining as ever. Bantamweights headline episode seven with Christian Rodriguez taking on Junior Cortez.
Week seven packs five bouts with half of the competitors hosting an unblemished professional record. Aside from the season’s first 135lb main event, the card hosts a matchup of heavyweights Lorenzo Hood and Martin Buday. Unbeaten flyweights face-off with England’s Jake Hadley and TUF 29 contestant Mitch Raposo. The Scottish MMA scene has been buzzing lately and Chris Duncan looks to join the party, but he must first get past Team Alpha Male’s Slava Borshchev. Kicking off the event will be Kathryn Paprocki stepping in on short notice against the dangerous Maria Silva.
Dana White’s Contender Series: Week 7 Preview
Christian Rodriguez vs. Junior Cortez
This pair of bantamweights are almost guaranteed to provide fireworks when locked inside the octagon with one another. Rodriguez hopes to become the next star out of Roufusport, following in the footsteps of Anthony Pettis and Tyron Woodley. Meanwhile, Cortez gets his work done in Arizona at the MMA Lab alongside dozens of UFC fighters. Note: Rodriguez missed weight.
Rodriguez is a 23-year-old product from the Midwest. He enters DWCS with a perfect 5-0 record, along with a 100 percent finish rate. Despite not having a ton of experience, Rodriguez has already competed under the banners of Bellator, LFA and CFFC. In his pro debut, the bantamweight displayed striking power, solid ground game, and an eye for the finish on his way to submitting his opponent in the opening round.
Cortez is 5-1 as a pro with his lone defeat coming via split decision at LFA 59. The 29-year-old has picked up knockouts in four of his five wins and has frequently competed at featherweight. Cortez hits hard and is very confident in his stand-up game, keeping his hands low while utilizing advanced footwork. Notably, he’s shown the ability to either end it early or win by going the distance.
As far as measurements go, these two are just about even. Honestly, it’d be surprising if we don’t see settle the score on the feet, as both men can finish fights with one punch. However, Rodriguez likely has the edge in the wrestling department so perhaps he’ll shoot for a takedown at some point. This has a good chance of being a very entertaining kickboxing match ending with a stoppage.
Lorenzo Hood vs. Martin Buday
Buday comes in as the largest betting favorite on the card, but that’s not a reason to count out Hood because upsets at heavyweight tend to come often on the Contender Series.
Hood also hails from the Midwest and he’s earned this opportunity on the heels of back-to-back first-round knockouts earlier this year. The 32-year-old has a big frame, even for a heavyweight, standing at six-foot-three and hoisting a 78″ reach. Hood is a sizable underdog for this fight due to the fact he’s only beaten one opponent who had a winning record. He’s been dominated on the ground in the past, but obviously, he carries thunderous power with each strike.
Believe it or not, Buday will actually be the larger man with his last weigh-in coming at 273lbs. He too stands at six-foot-three. The Slovakian has just one loss to his name which came against a far-more experienced Juan Espino. Aside from that, it’s be nothing but highlight finishes for the 29-year-old slugger. Impressively, Buday is a two-time IBJJF European No-Gi champion.
Buday is the more skilled and well-rounded of the two in this matchup. Yet, that doesn’t mean he can’t be beaten, because his striking defense is not impenetrable. Hood might come out swinging wildly for an early knockout, but his efforts could be stifled by Buday’s jab and footwork. Of course, anything could happen at heavyweight, but Buday is a heavy favorite for a reason.
Jake Hadley vs. Mitch Raposo
This is a very interesting flyweight scrap between two guys who will likely both wind up in the UFC at some point. Hadley happened to miss weight, so he’ll have to do something exceptional to earn a contract.
Birmingham, England’s Hadley enters at a flawless 7-0 since turning pro in 2018. The 25-year-old prospect holds a victory at Bellator as well as two for Cage Warriors. His previous four outings (all wins) came against formidable competition and should have prepared him for this moment. Hadley is a big flyweight standing at five-foot-seven, and he fights out of the southpaw stance.
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Fighting out of Massachusetts, Raposo spent some time training at Xtreme Couture in Las Vegas with coach Eric Nicksick ahead of his DWCS fight. The 22-year-old hasn’t lost a pro bout, excluding his TUF 29 fight (exhibition) against Liudvik Sholinian. Raposo is very bouncy on the feet and he’s adept at switching between stances to keep his opponents guessing.
Both of these flyweights are very confident in their abilities and for good reason. Hadley has fought the tougher strength of schedule, but don’t discount the things learned by Raposo throughout his time spent on TUF. These two are durable, but that’s also due to their keenness to not get hit cleanly. Hadley seems to have a little more pop in his strikes, along with the bigger frame that might give him the edge.
Chris Duncan vs. Slava Borshchev
A pair of highly-touted lightweights from opposite sides of the globe will battle it out for supremacy. Duncan will be competing for the first time this year, while Borshchev enters the cage for the third time in 2021.
Scotland’s Duncan has been about as impressive as you can be through seven pro fights. All victories, the 25-year-old a 100 percent finish rate, including a trio under the Bellator banner. It’s tough to imagine him not being at his best, as he’s spent the last few weeks learning from coach Nicksick.
Russia’s Borshchev lives and trains in Sacramento, California at the American Top Team headquarters. The 29-year-old is 4-1 with his only loss coming by split decision. Meanwhile, he has competed for both Titan FC and LFA, two organizations that have jumpstarted hundreds of fighter careers. A pair of finishes earlier this year has granted him this opportunity.
Duncan loves walking his opponents down, cornering them, and then unloading nasty combos. On the other side, Borshchev is a true threat when he gets the fight to the ground, especially when it comes to ground and pound. He swings hard and he hits hard, but Duncan is more calculated in his striking approach so expect him to have the advantage there.
Kathryn Paprocki vs. Maria Silva
Originally scheduled to face Silvana Gomez Juarez, Brazil’s Silva will now take on Paprocki, who stepped up to take this fight on very late notice. This bout will take place at strawweight.
Paprocki had two LFA fights fall through last minute in late summer/early fall. Yet, you could say that things happen for a reason because now she’s fighting in front of Dana White for a UFC contract. The 28-year-old is 3-1 as a pro with her lone defeat coming at the hands of Emily Ducote. Paprocki is also 1-1 as a boxer and 1-0 in muay Thai bouts. She’s spent her time training at DCO MMA & Fitness at high altitudes in Colorado.
Silva is a 6-0 Dragon Kombat product who has picked up first-round finishes in five of her first six pro fights. The 25-year-old has lightning-fast kicks that are difficult to predict what part of the body she’s attacking. Very rarely, if ever, does Silva overcommit on a punch or kick.
Through film evaluation, it’s Silva who is the more impressive fighter here. There’s something different about the power that she effortlessly throws with. Paprocki has a solid resume so don’t count her out if she can weather the storm early and tire Silva out. Though, that’s likely her only path to victory. Whereas, Silva has the potential to end the fight at almost all times.
Who will leave week seven of Dana White’s Contender Series with a UFC contract? Drop your predictions in the comment section!
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