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Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series Report: Episode 1

July 11, 2017 | Posted by Robert Winfree

Keep Refreshing For The Latest Results
* Matt Bessette (22-7) vs. Kurt Holobaugh (17-4)
* Greg Rebello (22-7) vs. Azunna Anyanwu (13-4)
* Boston Salmon (5-1) vs. Ricky Turcios (8-0)
* Charles Byrd (7-4) vs. Jamie Pickett (6-2)
* Joby Sanchez (9-2) vs. Manny Vazquez (11-2)


Hey everyone, welcome to 411’s live coverage of Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series. Because running TUF twice a year just enough for the UFC I guess. I’m Robert Winfree and I’ll be your host, because Larry Csonka has consistently jumped on the TUF grenade I figure I owe him a little. This series will focus on fighters trying to get into the UFC for the first time, or in a few cases prove that they deserve another shot in the promotion. I have absolutely no idea what this is going to look like in terms of pacing, but so help me if they wind up doing that awful TUF finale thing where we get five to ten minute video packages about each fighter between fights I might not be back for this next week. Five fights on Fight Pass should take less than three hours of broadcast time, but watch this thing run four and a half just to spite me. I’m going to apologize a bit in advance, I’m a little double booked on Tuesday’s so please bear with any errors that might creep through. Also fair warning, there’s a finite amount of ways I can phrase “looking to join the UFC”, so my apologies for the inevitable redundancy you’ll run into here. These events will be taking place in the same building that The Ultimate Fighter‘s regular season fights take place in, in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA.

Oh, and we’ve got our terrible WWE-esque tagline for this show: The Ultimate Job Interview. I will not be listening to the alternative commentary team of Urijah Faber and Snoop Dog, I can only take so much guys.

We’re getting video packages, joy. We start with Joby Sanchez, he talks briefly about being inspired by Diego Sanchez and getting knocked out then cut, he hopes to get back there. Vazquez says he’s finished some top prospects that are now in the UFC, not sure who he’s referencing, but that after he wins he’s going to go to Dana White and ask how many more people he’s got to finish before he gets in.

We’re starting things off at flyweight. Joby Sanchez has fought for the UFC before, he went just 1-2 and at flyweight the UFC sees little enough value in the division much less individual fighters, and was cut following a loss to Geane Herrera. He’s won twice since then, and is one of those fighters looking for a second chance. Manny Vazquez is well respected on the regional scene in the midwest, he’s gone 1-1 in Legacy, and comes to this bout on the back of a two fight winning streak. Vazquez is one of those making a pitch be be in the UFC.

Flyweight Bout: Joby Sanchez (9-2) vs. Manny Vazquez (11-2)

ROUND ONE: Vazquez is four inches taller and has four inches of reach on Sanchez. Vazquez showing the jab, Sanchez lands a couple of inside leg kicks. Sanchez circling. Sanchez trying to work the body in close then coming up with a right, Vazquez not doing much to keep distance. Vazquez following rather than cage cutting. Sanchez blocks a takdown and we’re clinched on the fence. Sanchez lands a few knees while holding Vazquez on the fence. They break without incident. We’ve had a few groin strikes that both guys have just waved off. More jabbing, Sanchez has a head kick blocked. Vazquez lands a counter left hook into a right that drops Sanchez. Vazquez tries a d’arce choke, bails to get the back. Vazquez gets a body triangle and starts trying to open up the choke. Sanchez defending his neck, Vazquez only throwing short stuff and the round ends in that spot.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Vazquez

ROUND TWO: They touch gloves for the second round. Sanchez lands a left hook as he bulls into the clinch. Sanchez hits a double leg, Vazquez trying to get a sweep but Sanchez breaks the grip he needs. Sanchez in side control, lands an elbow. Vazquez rolls but Sanchez controls him with a d’arce set up and keep shim on the mat. Vazquez to his knees, trying to hit a single but Sanchez rides him back to a hip. Sanchez lands a couple of elbows and Vazquez gets full guard. Vazquez rolls to his knees, Sanchez into the ride position and lands some punches. Sanchez landing punches while riding Vazquez. Sanchez has both hooks in now, Vazquez moves enough to get one of them free but Sanchez is enjoying the ride position and landing punches. Sanchez takes the back again, now basically has mount. Vazquez hip escapes to half guard. Sanchez tries another d’arce position to control Vazequez, he lands a few more punches from the back while the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-8 Sanchez, 19-18 Sanchez overall

ROUND THREE: They touch gloves again. Sanchez circling still, Vazquez tries a double leg that hits the fence, Vazquez gets a waist lock and has one hook in looking to get the back. They hit the mat, Vazquez tries to get the back but Sanchez has a bit of a reversal set up. Vazquez only has one hook in and Sanchez spins into top position. Vazquez has full guard, Sanchez throws a few punches. Sanchez passes to half guard, lands a couple of blows. Sanchez rolls for a d’arce choke, really commits to this one but Vazquez defends and regains his feet then they separate. They both miss some kicks. Sanchez lands a jab, Vazquez lands a bit of a left. Sanchez lands a right to the body and clinches up again. Sanchez hits a double leg and lands some rights then moves to the back. Sanchez has both hooks in now, he’s riding and landing blows. Vazquez up to his feet, Sanchez on his back, and the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Sanchez, 29-27 Sanchez overall

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Jody Sanchez via unanimous decision

No scores were specifically announced, just that it was unanimous. No in cage interview but they might do some between fights back stage. Actually he just walks down a hallway to an interview space. He says he hopes he did enough to earn Dana’s attention, notes that he struggled in the first but he dominated the next two rounds and feels he earned a contract. He says he relaxed a little after the first and made a few small technical adjustments. He says he’s good anywhere and wasn’t worried about the location of the fight.

We get some video packages to highlight some fighters for next week. Yeah, the pacing here is gonna be brutal.

Charles Byrd has been in Legacy FC and RFA (though both promotions have merged to form the Legacy Fighting Alliance recently) for a while now, he’s 1-1 in his last two losing to current UFC fighter Bojan Velickovic but coming off of a win and hoping to jump to the big show. Jamie Pickett took this on relatively short notice after Justin Jones withdrew from the fight. Pickett brings a six fight winning streak into this bout and also wants to make a good impression.

Middleweight Bout: Charles Byrd (7-4) vs. Jamie Pickett (6-2)

ROUND ONE: Pickett is four inches taller and has seven inches of reach on Byrd. Both men fighting southpaw. Byrd lands a couple of leg kicks then misses a head kick. Another leg kick from Byrd, then one to the calf. Byrd really working that leg kick game. Pickett hits a double leg near the fence. Byrd looking to wall walk, Pickett has the back with one hook in. Pickett forces Byrd back down, Byrd wall walks and Pickett has a rear waist lock. Pickett slides around and hits another double leg. Byrd back up, Pickett has a rear waist lock again. Pickett tries switching for a single leg, switches to a double leg, Byrd able to fight this one off and push Pickett into the fence. They jockey for position then break apart. Pickett closes distance on Byrd, Byrd avoids a leaning takedown and hits a double leg. Byrd on top, spins for the back but can’t get hooks in, they wind up chest to chest again. Byrd misses a wild right as they separate. Byrd lands a bit of a right and pushes into the clinch again. Pickett lands a knee to the body. Byrd lands a spinning elbow then reverses that awful head and arm throw so many fighters try. Byrd on top in north-south, lands a few blows then sets up an arm triangle on the far side and hops over, he gets a squeeze and Pickett goes out.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Charles Byrd via Technical Submission, arm triangle choke, at 4:55 of Round 1

The First Round Finish Club thanks Mr. Byrd for his work this evening. I’m a little shocked at how badly Pickett did preventing that pass over to lock up the choke. The time is basically best guess with some aid from commentary as they didn’t make it part of the official announcement. Byrd says he has no words, thanks a lot of people back home. They talk about the short notice replacement, he’s still happy to win and thinks he earned the contract.

Another couple of possible first timers here. Boston Salmon (anyone suddenly hungry hearing that name?) has fought exclusively for the now defunct RFA, he lost his last fight and is trying to move beyond that here. Ricky Turcios has never lost a fight, he’s also been in Legacy FC and won a fight in Bellator last year. Turcios is trying to get into the UFC as a legitimate prospect at bantamweight.

Bantamweight Bout: Boston Salmon (5-1) vs. Ricky Turcios (8-0)

ROUND ONE: Turcios has two inches of reach on Salmon but they’re the same height. Salmon fighting southpaw. Turcios tries some body kicks, Salmon lands a counter left. Straight left from Salmon lands but Turcios lands some body kicks. Salmon lands a left and a right that drops Turcios for a second. Turcios back up and still trying body kicks. Turcios tries a takedown, blocked and then has a head kick blocked. Salmon slips a right and lands an uppercut. Salmon backing Turcios up and looking to counter. Salmon lands a long left. Salmon lands a couple of short rights. Turcios circling, Salmon still trying to counter. Turcios lands a body kick but eats a couple of rights. Turcios tries more kicks that miss, Salmon just dodging and countering. Salmon lands a straight left, Turcios bleeding from the right cheek. Salmon lands a few more counters before the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Salmon

ROUND TWO: Salmon actually has a couple of cuts around that right eye. Turcios lands a body kick. Salmon lands a long left. Salmon catches a high kick and lands a few punches. Salmon lands a couple of short rights. Turcios lands a body kick. Turcios fails on a double leg. Salmon lands a few body shots, those are getting to Turcios a bit now. Turcios lands a body kick. Turcios lands another body kick. Salmon lands a bit of a left. Short right from Salmon lands. Turcios actually lands a head kick, then a body kick. Salmon lands a left then a right to the body. They trade some lead hand work, Turcios still working body kicks. Salmon lands a left, and blocks a high kick as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Turcios but I could be wrong here, 19-19 overall

ROUND THREE: Turcios lands a bit of a right. Salmon walking Turcios down. They split lefts. Salmon lands an inside leg kick. Salmon sits Turcios down with a short right. Turcios pushes into the clinch and has Salmon on the fence. They trade knees to the body and spin a few times. They trade again in close, these two are going at it. Salmon lands a right and they break. Turcios tries a double leg, blocked, some sloppy brawling, then they clinch and trade knees to the body. Salmon lands a left then a bit of a right. Salmon lands a couple of rights. They trade a few punches, Turcios gets the clinch and they trade some more. Salmon digs to the body as they break. They trade a bit more as the fight ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Salmon, 29-28 Salmon overall

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Boston Salmon via unanimous decision

Ugh, heavyweights. Greg Rebello fights out of the American north east, he’s fought down at light heavyweight as well but has been at heavyweight since around 2013. Rebello is on a good run, 6-1 in his last seven, and has won his last two. Azunna Anyanwu fights in the same geographic region but these two have never fought before, they do have a handful of common opponents though. Anyanwu has won his last four fights and is trying to prove he could hold his own in the UFC. Given the generally low quality of heavyweights, a good showing could get either man in the UFC.

Heavyweight Bout: Greg Rebello (22-7) vs. Azunna Anyanwu (13-4)

ROUND ONE: Anyanwu is an inch taller, just under twenty pounds heavier, and has four inches of reach on Rebello. Rebello fighting southpaw. Both men showing jabs, Rebello circling near the fence. Anyanwu lands an inside leg kick. Rebello misses a high kick. Rebello lands a leg kick. Another leg kick from Rebello. They trade some lead hand work. Rebello has a couple of lefts blocked, Anyanwu really not doing a whole lot here. Rebello lands a leg kick. Anyanwu lands a couple of rights. Rebello lands a left. Rebello has a head kick caught, and Anyanwu is on top in half guard as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Rebello

ROUND TWO: They touch gloves for the second round. They get close and trade some hooks. Rebello lands a straight left. Rebello lands a combination, Anyanwu tries to push forward with counters. They trade some body shots. Rebello lands a straight left. Anyanwu lands a counter right that floors Rebello, a few follow up blows gets the ref to stop the fight.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Azunna Anyanwu via KO, punches, at 3:04 of Round 2

Thankfully that didn’t go any longer, not a great fight even by heavyweight standards. A decent finish though. Anyanwu wants Dana White to holler at him.

Kurt Holobaugh fought for the UFC once in 2013 and was defeated by Steven Siler then not invited back. Hoobaugh has gone 8-2 since then and is here on the back of a three fight winning streak, looking to earn a second chance with the UFC. Matt Bessette hasn’t lost in just about two years, he’s regarded as probably the best featherweight in the American northeast, has a pretty solid Bellator record of 6-2, and brings a seven fight win streak into this bout. Bessette is after his first UFC shot should he impress here.

Featherweight Bout: Matt Bessette (22-7) vs. Kurt Holobaugh (17-4)

ROUND ONE: Holobaugh is an inch taller and has two and a half inches of reach on Bessette. Touch of gloves to get us going. Bessette lands a leg kick. They trade leg kicks. Bessette circling but Holobaugh gets close and tries to tee off before they clinch. They trade a few straight punches. Bessette lands a right then a left. Holobaugh lands a counter right that wobbles Bessette. More leg kicks going back and forth. They clinch, Holobaugh lands to the body and they break. Holobaugh doing good work here. Holobaugh wobbles Bessette with a right, swarms to the body and ends Bessette with a right to the jaw.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Kurt Holobaugh via KO, punches, at 2:59 of Round 1

The First Round Finish Club thanks Mr. Holobaugh for his work this evening. Holobaugh may have a broken finger on his right hand.

We’ll be closing with Dana White deciding who from tonight gets a UFC contract. Dana actually picks two fighters, Holobaugh and Salmon to join the UFC. I’m fine with those choices. He talks through his thought process a bit.

They interview Holobaugh, who’s happy to have the opportunity, thanks the promotions he’s fought for since leaving the UFC the first time as well.

Boston Salmon gets interviewed as well. He says the feeling is amazing and thanks his family for being there to celebrate with him.

That wraps up the first episode of Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series, thanks for reading guys.

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