Two fighters looking for another chance were rewarded and two fresh faces made their mark on the latest episode of the Contender Series.
Middleweight Antonio Arroyo, heavyweight Don’Tale Mayes, bantamweight Ode Osbourne, and middleweight Brendan Allen were all given UFC contracts by president Dana White after scoring finishes on Tuesday at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. The lone winner to miss out was Kevin Syler, who impressed in a decision victory, but failed to make weight for his featherweight bout.
In the main event, Arroyo (9-2) was getting a second chance to earn a Contender Series contract and he sealed the deal by submitting Stephen Regman (9-4) with an arm-triangle choke.
Arroyo’s last fight was on last year’s Brazilian edition of and that experience was bittersweet as he picked up a win, but was left hanging as four other fighters on his card were added to the UFC roster.
This time, his strong submission skills assured that he would not be denied. In the standup, Arroyo exclusively used leg kicks to keep the hard-hitting Regman at bay, and though Regman had success getting Arroyo down, Arroyo’s defense allowed him to avoid submissions and get back to his feet.
That was a key factor in round two when Arroyo clipped Regman with a high kick that knocked Regman down. He had Regman in survival mode, then avoided an armbar attempt to end up in top position. From there, he worked his way into position for an arm-triangle choke that he secured at the 3:31 mark of the second round.
Osbourne’s (8-2, 1 NC) slick striking was giving Armando Villareal (5-2) problems, but like Arroyo, it was a submission that sealed the deal. “The Jamaican Sensation” used his length and reach well to keep space between himself and Villareal, but Villareal eventually connected with a takedown about three minutes into the round.
With time ticking down, Villareal tried to posture up, only to have his arm captured by Osbourne. It wasn’t long before Villareal was shouting a verbal submission.
The official time of the stoppage was 4:39 into round one.
The third time was the charm for Tale Mayes (7-2). After two previous Contender Series appearances (Mayes lost to Allen Crowder the first time and defeated Mitchell Sipe the second time), Mayes punched his way to the UFC with a buzzer-beating finish of Ricardo Prasel (10-2).
Mayes had a speed and movement advantage over Prasel, making it difficult for the taller Prasel to initiate the grappling. Prasel’s takedown attempts were well defended and Mayes was able to consistently score with strikes in close. As time wound down in the opening round, Mayes closed the distance before landing a clean left hand that put Prasel down against the cage. A few follow-up punches later, the fight was over with just one second remaining in round one.
He may have struggled with the scale, but Bolivia’s Syler (9-0) picked up a convincing unanimous decision (30-27, 30-26, 30-26) win over Lance Lawrence (5-1) with busy striking and superior grappling.
A day after coming in 6.5 pounds over the featherweight limit, Syler did what he could to make up for the gaffe by piecing Lawrence up on the feet with combinations in the early going. Syler also mixed in takedowns to show off his all-around game, punishing Lawrence with ground-and-pound from top position.
Lawrence’s resilience was on full display as he slipped out of an ankle lock at the end of round two and actually ended up on the offensive in the closing seconds of that frame. With his face bloody and a large hematoma over his left eye, Lawrence went for broke in round three and took the fight to a tiring Syler. After being taken down, Syler was able to reverse him and eventually move to Lawrence’s back where he punched away from back position to stay ahead on the scorecards.
Allen (12-3) entered his fight as one of the biggest favorites on the card and he didn’t disappoint. Aggressive from the start, Allen dropped his hands and beckoned opponent Aaron Jeffery (6-2) to come at him. Jeffery, the first Canadian to compete on the Contender Series, obliged and soon the two were jockeying for position against the cage.
It was Allen who proved to be the superior grappler as he achieved an early back take that Jeffery was able to slip out of. Allen stuffed Jeffery’s takedown attempts and then found an opening for a knee up the middle that dropped Jeffery. Another back take led to Allen securing a rear-naked choke that ended the fight 3:23 into round one.
See the full results below:
Kevin Syler* def. Lance Lawrence via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-26 x2)
Brendan Allen def. Aaron Jeffery via first-round submission (rear-naked choke) (3:23)
*Syler came in 6.5 pounds over the featherweight limit