Dana White's Contender Series

Dana White’s Contender Series 2021 Week 8 Preview and Predictions

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This year’s edition of Dana White’s Contender Series has reached its eighth week, with finishes and contracts coming at an all-time high. Welterweights take center stage again this week as Solomon Renfro takes on Jonny Parsons.

Week eight’s main event features New York’s Renfro and Syndicate MMA’s Parsons, both of whom have been active and impressive. Before that, unbeaten Piera Rodriguez faces Brazil’s Valesca Machado and Caio Borralho returns to welcome Jesse Murray to the Contender Series. A pair of highly-talented light heavyweights square off in Armen Petrosyan and Kaloyan Kolev and lightweights James Barnes and Pedro Falcao are set to open the card.

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Dana White’s Contender Series Week 8 Predictions

Solomon Renfro vs. Jonny Parsons

Renfro is a 24-year-old welterweight who trains at Tiger Schulmann’s MMA in New York. Following an amateur stint where he went 8-1, Renfro turned pro and began rattling off victories under the CFFC banner. Back-to-back opening round TKOs this year has Renfro’s stock skyrocketing heading into this fight. His lone pro loss came against week six contract winner Mike Malott. After winning his first five bouts via decision, Renfro’s last three victories came by way of first-round stoppage.

Parsons is six years the elder of his upcoming opponent despite having the same amount of cage experience. He possesses a muay Thai background and has amassed a pro-MMA record of 7-2, fighting for several promotions across North America. Since 2020, Parsons has won a trio of fights all via highlight finish. He’s spent years coaching at the renowned Syndicate MMA.

Both of these welterweights do most of their damage with their hands, with Parsons tending to occasionally offer some kicks and trips. Moreover, the two have comparable strength of schedules, with a slight lean towards Renfro. A power advantage favors the New York native as well, but expect Parsons to present solid defense. Renfro can lead the dance or counter and that gives him the edge.

Prediction: Solomon Renfro by stoppage

Valesca Machado vs. Piera Rodriguez

Machado is a 26-year-old strawweight who is ever so close to being undefeated, as both her losses were split decisions. Nevertheless, she’s won six in a row entering Dana White’s Contender Series, including four straight finishes. Machado trains in Brazil and she hosts a striking background, having competed in a handful of kickboxing and boxing bouts.

Rodriguez is a 6-0 fighter who has spent time living and training in Venezuela, Spain, Panama, and now California. The 28-year-old secured the LFA strawweight title back in April by finishing her foe in the fifth and final round. Piera Rodriguez is a striker at her foundation, but she has been working alongside several UFC veterans including Mackenzie Dern.

This is expected to largely be a striking matchup, but don’t be surprised if a lot of this fight takes place in the clinch and on the mat. Rodriguez’s tape is a tad more impressive than Machado’s, but both ladies have demonstrated the ability to finish fights. The heavier hands go to Rodriguez as she has more pop in her punches, maybe even enough to finish this fight.

Prediction: Piera Rodriguez by stoppage

Caio Borralho vs. Jesse Murray

Borralho returns to the Contender Series cage just three weeks removed from his dominant decision win over Aaron Jeffery. It was enough to warrant a contract in the boss’ eyes, but he earned another opportunity to build off of his last performance. The 28-year-old will be fighting at light heavyweight this time around though. Borralho spends time training at Ronin Jiu-Jitsu.

Murray represents Strong Style Fight Team out of Ohio and he enters with an 8-3 record. He’s a natural light heavyweight, standing at six-foot-three. Also 28-years-old, Murray is a NAGA champion and his last finish victory came by way of Ezekiel choke.

As previously stated, Murray will be the noticeably bigger man in there on Tuesday. In his first DWCS appearance, Borralho had success grappling alongside the octagon, but that might be tougher this time around. Both guys have solid grappling credentials, with Borralho likely being the crisper of the two when it comes to striking. The Brazilian may have a slight edge on the ground as well, but pay attention to see how much of a factor the size difference plays.

Prediction: Caio Borrahlo by decision

Armen Petrosyan vs. Kaloyan Kolev

The Russian-born fighter from Armenia, Petrosyan enters as a 5-1 light heavyweight with a perfect finish rate. The 30 year old has torn through the Russian regional scene over the last three years since turning pro. The 30-year-old has an extensive muay Thai background and he’s currently training at Fireball Fight Club in his home country.

Kolev comes into this bout hoisting an unblemished record of 10-0, although he has not competed in over two years. The Bulgarian has needed less than a round to finish seven of his victories, varying between knockouts, submissions, and doctor’s stoppages. The 29-year-old has been training recently at the Anton Petrov Academy located in his native nation.

Right off the bat, something that sticks out is the fact that Kolev has only beaten three opponents who have a winning record. So yes, the record is flawless, but Petrosyan will be his toughest test by far. Kolev has shown he can win by both striking and grappling, but it will be interesting to see how he responds if in danger on Dana White’s Contender Series. Especially against Petrosyan, who hunts finishes by striking in bunches.

Prediction: Armen Petrosyan by stoppage

James Barnes vs. Pedro Falcao

Barnes is 39-years-old, making him one of the oldest fighters to ever compete on the Contender Series. With that age comes experience as Barnes has fought a number of times for Bellator and Gladiator Challenge. 12 of his 14 pro victories have come by way of submission, but he’s also been on the wrong side of several finishes throughout his career. Barnes is currently on a three-fight winning streak.

Brazil’s Falcao is a decade younger than his upcoming opponent, but he’s actually been a pro for longer. The 29-year-old has spent 10 years fighting through his country’s regional circuit and gaining experience. Falcao trains at Nova Uniao alongside several UFC fighters. He also is riding a three-fight winning streak into the fight.

First things first, both guys own BJJ black belts. Barnes is almost always looking to get the fight on the ground so expect that early on. Whereas, Falcao is a little better-rounded and more confident with his hands, which is the biggest distinction between the two honestly.

Prediction: Pedro Falcao by stoppage

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Ryan Truland is an MMA journalist who conducts interviews with athletes, provides creative pieces, and whatever else is needed to keep readers up to date on the latest and greatest MMA news.

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