FOUR more up-and-comers earned UFC contracts in the latest Contender Series instalment, with only one winner missing out on a berth in the top MMA promotion. Jamie Pickett got the nod at the third time of asking with a vicious TKO victory, while Rafael Alves and Collin Huckbody won entry via submissions, and Jeffrey Molina carved out a unanimous decision triumph.
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Third time was truly a charm for Pickett, as he inflicted a 22-punch barrage on Jhonoven Pati to put him away early in Round 2. Of his four career defeats, the 31-year-old middleweight suffered two of them in the Contender Series, but proved he has what it takes with his seventh victory via T/KO. Pati (6-4) was a dangerous opponent having earned finishes across his six professional wins, but was left out on his feet by Pickett’s fight-ending combination.
Earlier in the night, Huckbody (8-2) pulled off the quickest stoppage of the five-fight card, leaning on his patented arm triangle to submit Kyron Bowen at 1:28 in Round 1. The 25-year-old now boasts a five-fight win streak, with four first-round finishes and six submissions (five via arm triangle) on his ever-improving record. He pulled off the move from mount too, showcasing a heck of a squeeze to yield the tap against his lighter opponent.
Alves snared the second submission of the night, with the guillotine choke his MO for putting Alejandro Flores (16-3) away. The Brazilian, who is both a high level grappler and striker, looked powerful from the offset, stalking Flores and threatening with his power. Despite Flores’ movement, and ability to land a takedown, he shot right into an Alves guillotine and in a flash, could find no escape. Alves is another fighter enjoying a five-fight tear at 19-9, while Flores’ impressive run over 10 bouts sees another loss added to the tally. Both men are 29 years old.
In one of two unanimous decisions on the night, Molina and Jacob Silva put on a show across 15 minutes of flyweight action. Despite the loss Silva (6-3) remains on the UFC’s radar having proved his dangerous arsenal and durability. But Molina was the one to earn a contract, controlling the distance and pace well while also landing some nice counter strikers and looking incredibly relaxed overall. It was his first decision victory, but Molina is now 8-2 with seven wins on the trot. He also pulled it off after breaking his foot in Round 1.
The unlucky winner of the lot was Romero, who still has time to prove his case at 8-0 and 23 years of age. The Canadian is well-rounded and technical, proving too slick for Mike Breeden, who is as tough as they come. Romero’s inability to clinch a finish while Breeden was badly compromised by leg kicks, and after dropping him, ultimately proved costly.
CONTRACTS: Collin Huckbody, Jeffrey Molina, Rafael Alves, Jamie Pickett
Jamie Pickett def. Jhonoven Pati | TKO (punches) 0:33 Rd 2
Rafael Alves def. Alejandro Flores | Submission (guillotine choke) 2:55 Rd 2
Jeffrey Molina def. Jacob Silva | Decision (unanimous) 30-27, 30-27, 29-28
Anthony Romero def. Mike Breeden | Decision (unanimous) 30-26, 30-27, 29-28
Collin Huckbody def. Kyron Bowen | Submission (arm triangle) 1:28 Rd 1
Featured Image: Chris Unger/DWCS LLC/Zuffa LLC