Dana White’s Contender Series, returns for the second time this year for the Tuesday, August 15 episode, which will see a very special champion vs. champion main event.
Fury FC lightweight champion Abdul-Kareem Al-Selwady will take on Cage Warriors lightweight champion George Hardwick in a fight that will be sure to get people talking ahead of UFC 292 this weekend.
Over the next 10 weeks, 100 fighters will compete for a spot in the UFC with weekly fights under the unified rule set. However, the onus will be on the fighters to not only secure victories, but impress UFC President Dana White, who will welcome a select few winners into the promotion at the end of every episode.
This week’s episode of DWCS is set to get underway at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT and can be streamed on ESPN+.
Hardwick vs. Al-Selwady
George Hardwick is a fighter who is legitimately one of the very best lightweight prospects without a UFC contract. He had to walk through the fire to reach this point, beating a host of Cage Warriors contenders before finally winning the lightweight title and making a pair of title defenses. He has a balanced game, but is several steps above generalist status, boasting crisp technique and patience to go with a killer instinct. He has lately gotten the job done with his striking, but also boasts a nasty guillotine. However he chooses to get the job done, he has finished in two-thirds of his wins and flashed legitimate upside to one day join the UFC’s lightweight elite.
Contracts on the line – #DWCS Week 2 is HERE!
Watch the action at 7pmET / 4pmPT | Live on ESPN+ pic.twitter.com/4Gf6kYx0ar
— UFC (@ufc) August 15, 2023
Standing across the cage from him will be Abdul-Kareem Al-Selwady, a Fortis MMA fighter whose represents Palestine. At 5-foot-7, Al-Selwady is short for the division, but uses his stature to help him finish takedowns, the basis of his mixed martial arts skillset. While he is not afraid to engage with his opponents on the feet, Al-Selwady has shown a high level ability to use his wrestling to help him win rounds, and eventually, the lightweight title of one of the top regional promotions in North America. How he matches up with Hardwick remains to be seen, but given the amount of talent that will be in the cage, the winner is likely UFC bound regardless of how the fight plays out.
Moura vs. Silva
Unbeaten Brazilian strawweights will look to add to the deepest division in women’s MMA when Eduarda Moura takes on Janaína Silva. With Moura’s record at 8-0 and Silva’s record at 5-0, there is plenty to like about both prospects. Moura, who is nicknamed, “Ronda,” doesn’t have any armbar victories on her record, but has finished seven of eight wins fighting exclusively in Brazil. She did lose once on the amateur circuit, falling victim to a guillotine choke in the first fight of her career, but should continue to prevail in most grappling situations as long as she is the aggressor.
Silva, meanwhile, has dabbled in North America. She made her LFA debut back in November 2022 when she beat Nayara Hemily as a -400 favorite. Prior to that, she too had been fighting exclusively in Brazil. Moura’s experience and pure finishing ability could give her an advantage, but Silva is not a fighter to be counted out, particularly since so little is known about both.
Amil vs. Sonmez
One fighter whose name should ring a bell to LFA fans is Hyder Amil. Amil is a talented striker, who passed every test with flying colors in the UFC’s top feeder promotion. He holds a 7-0 record with four knockouts, but is 33-years-old and needs to make an impression in order to break into the UFC and stand a decent chance of climbing the featherweight ladder. The San Francisco native likely would have been in line for a featherweight title shot in LFA, and that may still be on the table if he is unsuccessful or unable to secure a UFC contract. However, Amil is an exciting fighter who will likely catch the eye of UFC President Dana White if he is victorious.
Emrah Sonmez, meanwhile, is a product of the European regional circuit. The Turk also has a pension for finishing fights, with eight of his 14 wins coming by way of knockout. He is not, however, a sublime knockout artist on the feet. Rather, he is known for taking his opponents down and seeking ways to finish the fight as opposed to using his wrestling for ground control or to bank minutes. He is currently riding a three-fight winning streak with back-to-back wins over Leandro Souza. The middle fight on this week’s card is a pure Striker vs. Grappler matchup, and will be one you won’t want to miss.
Renato Jr. vs. Aslan
Ibo Aslan is one of two Turkish fighters competing on Tuesday night, and could be just the thing the UFC light heavyweight division needs. The same can be said for his opponent, Paulo Renato Jr. The Brazilian is 12-2, as well as a veteran of DWCS, having fallen to Jamal Pogues in his 2022 appearance on the show.
He should have redemption on his mind when he faces Aslan, a tried and true knockout artist who has finished each of his 11 wins. His only loss has come by way of submission, so the path to victory for Renato is clear. The weight cut will also be telling for both fighters, though the Turk will carry a three-inch height advantage and presumable reach advantage.
Smotherman vs. Grigoriou
Charalampos Grigoriou is seeking to become the first man from Cyprus to compete in the UFC since former middleweight contender Costas Philippou. However, he will have the toughest test of his career in a hungry fighter in Smotherman who has fought the tougher level of competition. Smotherman is another Texas product who has spent the lion’s share of his amateur and pro career up to this point competing in Fury FC. He has posted mostly positive results in the promotion, but has more notably fought 11 times since turning pro two and a half years ago.
The fight will likely come down to Smotherman’s ability to get his boxing going before Grigoriou establishes his wrestling. Smotherman is not an incapable grappler, but someone who often overcommits and puts himself in bad situations. He will need to to steer clear of that, but if he can, he could have a UFC contract coming his way. Otherwise, Grigoriou could be in a position to make history on Tuesday night.
Dana White’s Contender Series 58 Results
Abdul-Kareem Al-Selwady def. George Hardwick via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Ibo Aslan def. Paulo Renato Jr. via TKO (strikes) at 2:22 of Round 1
Eduarda Moura def. Janaína Silva via Submission (RNC) at 4:00 of Round 1
Hyder Amil def. Emrah Sonmez via Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Charalampos Grigoriou def. Cameron Smotherman via TKO (strikes) at 1:00 of Round 1