Dana White's Contender Series

Dana White’s Contender Series 46 Preview and Predictions

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This year’s installment of Dana White’s Contender Series has reached its final week. The class of ’21 needs six contracts to surpass last season’s record of 32, something that’s yet to occur in the show’s five seasons.

With the action that’s on tap for week 10, contracts might fly off of the shelves, but it’ll be a stretch to break the record. The card’s headliner features Canada’s Achilles Estremadura taking on China’s Maheshate. Meanwhile, unbeaten welterweights Yohan Lainesse and Justin Burlinson are set to square off in the night’s co-main event. Three other bouts round out the season’s concluding episode and all 10 fighters successfully made weight.

Dana White’s Contender Series 46 Preview

Achilles Estremadura (7-0) vs Maheshate (4-1)

Estremadura fights out of Vancouver, British Columbia and he recently secured gold for a regional promotion named Battlefield Fight League. The 29-year-old has fought all of his amateur and pro bouts under that banner, averaging roughly one fight per year since 2010. Estremadura trains at a few places around Vancouver, including Grindhouse Athletics.

Maheshate gets his training in at Enbo Fight Club alongside several of China’s top fighters, most notably UFC lightweight¬†Zhu Rong. After losing his debut by decision, the 21-year-old rattled off five straight wins, three of which came via knockout. Maheshate is big for a lightweight, standing at six feet tall.

While Maheshate normally would have a solid size advantage, that will not be the case in this fight as Estremadura comes in just one inch shorter. Moreover, the Canadian appeared to be the thicker fighter when the two faced off at weigh-ins. There’s hardly any film out there on Maheshate, but it’s fair to say that he lacks experience when examining his resume, despite his evident talent. Estremadura’s best weapons are his hooks and his ability to overwhelm with his combinations.

Prediction: Achilles Estremadura by decision.

Yohan Lainesse (7-0) vs Justin Burlinson (6-0)

Canada will be represented in the co-headliner as well, this time by 29-year-old Lainesse. Fighting out of Quebec, Lainesse has gone 4-0 since 2020, all for CFFC and ultimately leading to a championship at CFFC 98. For only having seven pro fights, he has a strong strength of schedule heading into his Dana White’s Contender Series fight.

Sunderland, England’s Burlinson matches his opponent in terms of schedule difficulty. The 24-year-old already owns a pair of opening-round finishes for Bellator, along with a stoppage win for Cage Warriors. Also notable is the fact Burlinson fought 18 times as an amateur before turning pro in 2017.

The two welterweights are close in terms of size with Lainesse holding a two-inch reach advantage. Both of these guys like to stand and bang so expect this one to be on the feet for the vast majority of the fight. Yet, the edge goes to Burlinson on the ground. He might have the crisper striking as well, but it won’t be a drastic disparity. Still, Burlinson seems to be ready for this moment and he has tons of talent.

Prediction: Justin Burlinson by stoppage. 

Qiu Lun (14-7) vs Erisson Ferreira De Silva (10-1)

Lun is the second member of Enbo Fight Club to appear on this week’s card. Remarkably, he already has 21 pro fights under his belt while still only being 24-year-old. It’s been an up-and-down journey for Lun, but he brings all of that experience into this fight. He’s a talented and diverse striker out of both stances.

Ferreira trains at Eduardo Machado Team in Paraiba, Brazil. The 30-year-old comes into this fight as the biggest betting favorite on the card due to the number of first-round finishes on his record. Ferreira will be competing outside of Brazil for the first time and it will be his first fight in over a year and a half.

Ferreira enters as the more well-rounded fighter, but his striking defense is far from impenetrable. Credit to him for having a good chin, but one head kick from Lun could end his night on Tuesday. It’s Ferreira’s ability and willingness to drag this fight into the deep water that gives him an advantage in this flyweight matchup. If Lun can keep this a clean kickboxing match, he’s very capable of pulling the upset.

Prediction: Erisson Ferreira by stoppage.

Jonas Bilharinho (8-1-1) vs Canaan Kawaihae (6-1)

Team Nogueira product Bilharinho has actually only fought once in the last five years. The 31-year-old Brazilian native has faced some quality opponents, but they’ve come so few and far between that it’s difficult to project how Bilharinho will look in the Octagon. All but one of his victories have come by way of stoppage.

Hawaii’s Kawaihae is making his second appearance on Dana White’s Contender Series. The first came three years back when he lost a decision to Chase Hooper. The 24-year-old has gone 2-0 since then, including a win for Bellator in 2019. This past April, Kawaihae scored a first-round submission victory for LFA.

One thing that we know for sure is that Bilharinho possesses a very good straight left hand out of his southpaw stance. He’s also an incredibly entertaining athlete with his fight style. Kawaihae is a southpaw as well and he’s also a very fun fighter to watch. This should be a fight that largely takes place on the feet and it’ll likely end before the final bell. The slight speed advantage favors the Brazilian.

Prediction: Jonas Bilharinho by stoppage.

Zhifa Shang (32-7) vs Juan Puerta (22-6)

China’s Shang is the most experienced fighter in terms of fights who has ever competed on Dana White’s Contender Series. The 35-year-old flyweight has long been on the UFC’s radar so it’s good he finally gets his opportunity. Currently, Shang is riding a very impressive 20 fight winning streak, which includes 15 finishes.

Puerta is a product of American Top Team and he too has been on the UFC’s radar for quite some time. Right now, the 33-year-old is in the midst of an 11 fight winning streak, six of which came by finish. Puerta is a former Titan FC flyweight champion.

The American is going to try and wear on his opponent with his grappling/wrestling, although Shang is no slouch in the wrestling department. Puerta fights out of the southpaw stance and will benefit from a sizable height advantage in this fight.

Prediction: Juan Puerta by decision.

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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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