THREE fresh faces are set to enter the UFC after earning contracts on Dana White’s Contender Series, which returned for Season 4 this week. Jordan Leavitt and Uros Medic captured the attention of their new boss with first round finishes, while Dustin Jacoby is set to make his UFC return after taking out a unanimous decision victory.
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While the card was stripped down to four fights due to a late scrapping, those in action took full advantage of their spots to earn passage to the elite MMA promotion. As is often the case, the setting of a smaller UFC APEX octagon made for a bunch of high-pace action, kicked off by Leavitt’s Round 1 submission of Luke Flores.
Having fought as recently as July 17, Leavitt kept his momentum going to improve to 7-0 as a professional and take the next step in his MMA journey. The 25-year-old grappling ace wasted no time in securing a takedown – albeit unconventionally – and got to work with a series of transitions on the mat.
No slouch on the ground himself, Flores looked to stay busy from the bottom, but a poorly judged decision to pull guard spelt the beginning of the end for him. Leavitt snatched up the arm triangle in quick time, and celebrated with his now patented split.
Flores is now 0-2 in his Contender Series digs, which remain the only two losses on his professional record. At 32-years-old, time may be running out on any hopes of a UFC berth.
MMA judging again came under fire after Jerome Rivera got the unanimous nod over Luis Rodriguez, with the former’s volume of kicks and perennial forward movement perhaps sticking in the judges’ minds. Most significantly, two of the judges had him taking out all three rounds, totally discarding Rodriguez’s dominance in Round 2.
It was an incredibly close fight nonetheless, and the LFA vet is now 10-2 as a pro, but still yearns for his UFC contract. 22-year-old Rodriguez, who is now 11-2, was impressive on his flyweight debut and looked strong across each discipline. His wicked hooks, leg kicks, and takedowns all took toll across the bout, but his seven-fight win streak was ultimately broken.
It seems inevitable that we may see both men in the UFC someday though, and there was plenty to like about their well-rounded skillsets.
Arguably the performance of the night belonged to Serbian prospect, Medic, who lays claim to one of the great MMA nicknames – ‘The Doctor’. He put on a clinic too, taking out Mikey Gonzalez via TKO in Round 1 to send a resounding message to all UFC lightweights and welterweights.
As Nick Diaz would put it, Gonzalez began to throw ‘spinning shit’ early, but it proved ineffective in the face of Medic’s slamming body kicks. Medic had him folded with one early, but he snapped up one of his opponent’s legs to survive the incoming onslaught.
It took just a few more moments for Medic to land another though, with the referee stepping in as Gonzalez could only cover up against the fence. Unsurprisingly, the quick and nasty work warranted a ‘Goddamn’ from Uncle Dana.
Now 6-0, Medic has five first round finishes to his name, and a 100 per cent stoppage rate in his fledgling professional career. The rise to the top looks a steep one for the 27-year-old.
After eight years away from the promotion, Jacoby secured the final contract of the night in the featured bout, but required all three rounds to do so against a tough a durable Ty Flores. Having cut his teeth of late in Glory Kickboxing, Jacoby showed a clear striking advantage as he lit up Flores on the feet in Rounds 1 and 2.
The 32-year-old’s punishing straight punches and flurries with Flores backed up against the fence almost had the fight stopped in Round 2, with knees and elbows also thrown into the masterful striking display.
Jacoby seemed to have emptied the tank looking for an early finish though, with both men looking gassed as the pace completely slowed during the ultimate period. It mattered little for White as he granted Jacoby a second shot in the UFC, and he looks poised to make a mark at 205lbs as he enters his fighting prime.
Contracts: Jordan Leavitt, Uros Medic, Dustin Jacoby
Dustin Jacoby def. Ty Flores | Decision (unanimous) 30-26, 29-27, 29-27
Uros Medic def. Mikey Gonzalez | TKO (punches) 2:12 Rd 1
Jerome Rivera def. Luis Rodriguez | Decision (unanimous) 29-28, 30-27, 30-27
Jordan Leavitt def. Luke Flores | Submission (arm-triangle) 4:15 Rd 1