Dana White Contender Series Week 2:
By Matt Wise
Baeza and Johns both offered UFC contracts
Miguel Baeza def. Victor Reyna (welterweight):
Miguel Baeza came out on top in a thrilling stand up battle against Victor Reyna.
Both contenders heeded Dana White’s call for ‘killers’ to emerge from each fight, producing an epic, back and forth contest.
Round one went the way of Baeza, who landed a mean overhand right to drop his opponent. Reyna showed toughness, though, to survive on the ground, and returned with a knockdown of his own in round two. The 32-year-old looked to have the second round sealed, but was in the end saved by the bell having taken successive knees to the body in the clinch.
Fearing their fighter was two rounds down, Reyna’s corner called for a finish, but failed to provide the knockout blow in the third and lost the decision, despite landing a number of powerful right hands, and opening up a cut on Baeza’s cheekbone with some ground and pound.
The judges each scored the fight 29-28 in favour of Miguel Baeza.
Miles Johns def. Richie Santiago (bantamweight):
Miles Johns put on a complete performance in his unanimous decision win over Richie Santiago.
Johns had his opponent retreating for much of round one, and it appeared only a matter of time before he landed the knockout blow. But, Santiago showed his ability to take a punch, and repeatedly smiled back at his opponent.
Johns sent Santiago to the canvas at the start of round two, and showed his competence on the ground, where his opponent was known for doing his best work.
Johns wobbled the legs of Santiago again with a vicious right hand, and took his opportunity to engage on the ground, ignoring calls from his corner to keep the fight on the feet. Johns went on to threaten a number of submissions over a tired Santiago, but was unable to get the tap, and the LFA champion had to settle for a decision victory.
The judges scored the bout 30-27, 30-27 and 30-26 in favour of Miles Johns to take his record to 9-0.
Kyle Daukaus def. Michael Lombardo (middleweight):
Kyle Daukaus dominated American Top Team’s Michael Lombardo, winning via unanimous decision.
Daukaus continually managed to tie up his opponent, and out landed Lombardo almost 8-1.
Lombardo came looking for an early stoppage, throwing heavy hands Daukaus’ way. But in the end, he was unable to escape the clutches of his opponent, and much of the contest was spent on the ground.
Daukaus’ advanced jiu jitsu came to the fore in rounds two and three, and he had Lombardo fighting triangle and guillotine chokes and arm bars.
Lombardo somehow managed to hold out for a decision, but lost out 30-25, 30-26 and 29-27.
Justin Gonzales def. Zach Zane (featherweight):
Justin Gonzales had it all his own way against Zach Zane with a unanimous decision victory.
Zane was emotional upon entering the octagon, and Gonzales pounced with a right hand which allowed him to take the fight to the ground. Gonzales dictated proceedings for the remainder of round one, using his wrestling to tie down his opponent.
Zane failed to make the most of opportunities to land shots on the feet, but instead presented more opportunities for Gonzales to take the fight to the mat. The Colorado-born featherweight landed 12 takedowns in total and out landed his opponent almost 8-1.
All three judges scored the contest 30-26, and Justin Gonzales moved to 10-0 in his professional career.
Alton Cunningham def. Tony Johnson (light heavyweight):
Alton Cunningham took the win in the card’s featured bout with a gritty display against Tony Johnson.
Tony Johnson opened the contest with a right hand, followed by a knee which shook Cunningham, and he was forced to use his wrestling earlier than planned.
Johnson, who was quoted as saying he “despises wrestling,” did his best to stay at range and utilise his boxing, but Cunningham instinctively stayed close to his opponent to stay out of danger.
Cunningham found success in the thai clinch and threatened with a few punches and knees, but in the main there was little offense offered from the man in the red corner, and the referee separated the two on two occasions. The pair exchanged punches against the cage throughout the fight, but nothing which will have caught the eye of Dana White.
Cunningham fought the majority of the fight with severe swelling above his right eye, which appeared completely shut by the end of the bout.
For the fifth time on the card, a decision was needed to find a winner, and it went in the favour of Tony Johnson.
Each fight on the night went to a decision, but that would not stop Dana White from offering out UFC contracts. He offered Miguel Baeza a ticket to the big time, drawn in by his durability and brawler’s mentality. Miles Johns was also handed a contract due to his equal ability on the feet and on the ground.
The remaining winners on the card Kyle Daukaus, Justin Gonzales and Tony Johnson did not do enough to earn a contract.