The expression on UFC president Dana White’s face during the final two fights on the latest edition of the Contender Series told the whole story for the card.
Light heavyweight prospect Aleksa Camur and featherweight Aalon Cruz capped off the night with a pair of flying knee knockouts that had White spewing expletives left and right before handing both fighters UFC contracts.
“It’s so hard for me to say no to anybody,” White said after handing out the contracts. “Everybody gives everything they’ve got when they come here. I could do this every Tuesday for the rest of my life. I love the talent and the matchmaking on this show is unbelievable. I love Tuesday nights.”
As soon as the fights ended, White revealed that he also received a call from former heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic telling him to sign Camur, who he trains with at Strong Style MMA in Cleveland, OH.
White also gave a contract to flyweight Tracy Cortez after she put on a grappling showcase to earn a unanimous decision win in her fight.
Heavyweight Rodrigo Nascimento got the fourth contract of the night after he made short work of Michael Martinek in the opening fight on the card. White added that the UFC may already have a fight booked for Nascimento in August with a heavyweight slot open on an upcoming card.
Aleksa Camur def. Fabio Cherant by TKO (strikes) at :48 seconds, R2
Stipe Miocic considers his teammate Aleksa Camur the future of the sport and the 23-year old prospect showed why with his highlight reel finish to cap off the latest episode of the Contender Series.
With a string of first round knockouts already on his resume, Camur seemed like he was built for this show and he did not disappoint with his performance.
A former Golden Gloves boxer, Camur showed off his hand speed and power throughout the opening round as he was in pursuit trying to trap Cherant with his combinations. Cherant was content circling away and then occasionally launching a big punch or a kick, although Camur did a good job defensively to avoid the shots.
The second round saw Cherant decide to show a little more aggression, which nearly paid off when he cracked Camur with a solid punch that seemingly rattled the Ohio native.
Perhaps Camur was playing possum because Cherant moving forward helped him set up the finish just a few seconds later. With Cherant taking a step towards him, Camur jumped into the air and blasted the Team Sityodtong fighter with a massive flying knee.
Cherant tumbled to the mat but somehow survived long enough to get into a scramble with Camur on the ground. Camur never gave him a second to breathe, however, as he continued to chip away at him with punches and with Cherant not doing anything to escape the referee had no choice but to stop the fight.
The official end time was 48-seconds into the second round as Camur remains undefeated in his career with his fifth straight knockout finish.
Aalon Cruz def. Steven Nguyen by knockout (flying knee and punches) at 4:36, R3
Aalon Cruz secured his UFC future with a stunning flying knee knockout in the third round of his fight against Steven Nguyen.
It was a battle throughout but the end came late in the final round after Cruz uncorked a spectacular flying knee out of nowhere that flattened Nguyen to get the knockout with less than 30 seconds remaining in the fight.
Nguyen was actually the aggressor from the start of the first round as he was constantly pressing forward but Cruz adjusted well to his opponent’s game plan. With more than a five-inch reach advantage, Cruz was definitely trying to keep Nguyen at a distance and he did an admirable job while landing several thudding kicks that could have easily earned him the knockout if not being deflected at the last moment.
The second round saw Cruz uncork a well-timed jumping knee attack that Nguyen was able to absorb but it definitely gave the Florida native confidence in his overall striking game. Nguyen always threatened with a volume of punches but he wasn’t connecting with as often, which left him open to the counter shots from Cruz.
As much as Nguyen was able to deflect a lot of the kicks coming from Cruz, the impact from the ones that slipped through definitely made a bigger impression.
With time ticking away in the fight, Nguyen took advantage of Cruz’s aggression by leaping forward with a jumping knee that landed flush. Cruz’s head snapped backwards as he fell motionless to the canvas while UFC president Dana White’s jaw hit the floor almost as quickly.
The stoppage came at 4:36 into the final round as Cruz earned his UFC contract with a highlight reel knockout.
Tracy Cortez def. Mariya Agapova by unanimous decision (30-26, 30-26, 29-27)
Tracy Cortez used a dominant ground game to suffocate Mariya Agapova round after round before earning a unanimous decision victory in her Contender Series debut.
It was a true clash of striker versus grappler in the early going with Agapova showcasing her kickboxing while Cortez was looking to drag the action to the mat. Agapova managed to sting Cortez with some long punches and kicks but then failed to fend off the takedown midway through the opening round.
Cortez was on the attack once she got on the ground as she advanced her position and started seeking a rear naked choke. Agapova did a good job defending but she was unable to keep Cortez away from her legs, which continuously put her on the canvas.
The second round saw more of the same with Cortez securing the takedown and immediately passing Agapova’s guard before taking the back. Cortez locked on the body triangle while constantly threatening with the choke yet again but she couldn’t quite secure the finish.
Knowing she needed to put Cortez away to get the win, Agapova was more aggressive in the final round but that ultimately left her open for another takedown attempt. Cortez wasted no time putting her back down on the mat and resuming a similar position as the majority of the fight.
With less than a minute remaining, Agapova was finally able to get back to her feet but time ran out before she could do any serious damage to swing the fight into her favor. When it was all over, Cortez had clearly done enough to earn the victory as she moves to 6-1 in her career overall.
The judges scored the fight 30-26, 30-26 and 29-27 all in favor of Cortez after three rounds.
Daniel Rodriguez def. Rico Farrington by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
Daniel Rodriguez won by decision for the first time in his career but he still got the job done with a strong showing over Rico Farrington in welterweight matchup on Tuesday night.
Rodriguez was constantly trying to find an entry to get inside with his power punches while dealing with a five-inch reach advantage from Farrington. In return, Farrington used his length to paw at Rodriguez from the outside, although he wasn’t really using his jab to set up his combinations.
Rodriguez did manage to snap off a few kicks that hammered away at Farrington’s lead leg but he never really committed to that game plan over the course of the three round fight.
The problem Rodriguez dealt with all fight long was swinging with a ton of force behind his punches but just failing to connect with any real consistency. The first two rounds were both razor close, which led to Farrington getting a little more active in the final five minutes.
With less than a minute remaining, Rodriguez secured a takedown before moving into the mount where he began dropping bombs from the top in an attempt to secure the late stoppage. It was nearly enough because Rodriguez was blasting away with punches as Farrington was stuck just covering up and hoping he could make it to the final horn.
The fight came to an end before Rodriguez could get the finish but he ultimately did enough work over three rounds to get the judges’ decision with the scorecards reading 30-27, 29-28 and 29-28.
Rodrigo Nascimento def. Michal Martinek by submission (arm triangle choke) at 3:16, R1
The heavyweights got the action started in the first fight of the night and it took less than one round for Rodrigo Nascimento to move to 7-0 in his career.
After a brief striking Exchange on the feet, Nascimento reversed a takedown attempt from Martinek, which put him on top before immediately shredding his opponent’s defense on the ground. Nascimento began raining down shots while strategically advancing his position on the mat.
Nascimento used the position to set up a well-timed arm triangle choke and once he had the submission locked up, Martinek had no choice but to tap out. The end came at 3:16 in the opening round as Nascimento celebrated the impressive finish.