Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series – Episode 1
July 11, 2017
Las Vegas, Nevada
Live on UFC Fight Pass (8:00 p.m. ET)
Welcome to our coverage of the debut episode of Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series. Be sure the check out Michael Grocke’s preview of the show to familiarize yourself with the fighters on tonight’s show. Enjoy the fights!
Dan Hellie and Yves Edwards opened the show and ran down the card. They said Dana White will be there to pick one fighter to get a UFC contract. The show took place from the TUF gym and there’s a small audience that seems to be made up primarily of family and friends of the fighters.
I switched to the Snoopcast for the first fight.
(1) Joby Sanchez vs. Manny Vazquez (Middleweight 185 lbs)
Result: Sanchez by unanimous decision.
Vazquez dropped Sanchez in the first round and came close to finishing the fight with a guillotine. Sanchez recovered and took Vazquez down in rounds two and three and looked for submissions, taking the unanimous decision.
Urijah Faber is doing well on commentary but Snoop Dogg isn’t adding a lot. He nicknamed Joby Sanchez, “Joby Won Kenobi.”
Hiscoe’s Analysis: Sanchez recovered well from getting dropped in the first round, as he was almost out there. With only one fighter getting the contract tonight, I think Sanchez is a real longshot based on this fight.
(2) Charles Byrd vs. Jamie Pickett (Flyweight 125 lbs)
Result: Byrd by first round submission
Lots of clinch work through the first round until Byrd got him down and locked in an arm triangle for the submission win.
Hiscoe’s Analysis: Byrd looked good here and is now the front runner for the contract but there are three fights to go. Byrd asked to fight in Japan if he gets the contract.
(3) Boston Salmon vs. Ricky Turcios (Bantamweight 135 lbs)
Result: Salmon by unanimous decision
The first round was all stand up. Salmon opened up a cut on Turcios’ right eye. Salmon had the better of the striking but it was a competitive round. Turcios’ offense was primarily kicking from the outside while Salmon would counter with a left hook that was effective.
I’ve been on the regular broadcast for the past two fights and Dan Hellie is a very professional announcer and seems to understand the sport. He has a very slick and sports like presentation. He’s definitely more Jon Anik than Mike Goldberg.
The second round followed the tone set in the first with Salmon working a strong counter game, and landed some good combinations. Turcios fared better this round but I still gave it to Salmon.
Salmon knocked Turcios down early in the third with a right hand but he got right back up. Turcios clinched with Salmon against the cage for much of the rest of the round. Salmon was getting frustrated thinking Turcios was holding on to the cage. They had a nice back and forth to finish the fight. Dana White was shown on camera applauding the fighters and sitting with Sean Shelby and Mick Maynard.
Hiscoe’s Analysis: This was the best of the three fights thus far and Salmon should be in contention with Byrd for the contract. If I had to guess, I think Dana White will go with Salmon.
(4) Greg Rebello vs. Zu Anyanwu (Heavyweight 265 lbs)
Result: Anyanwu by second round knockout
These were two big boys fighting here. Very slow first round with little action. This was like the heavyweight fights from the Tim Sylvia era of UFC with two big, soft heavyweights just circling each other hoping for an opening for a knockout. They turned it up a bit for the second round with both guys getting some decent shots in. Anyanwu won the fight with a huge counter right hand that put Rebello on his ass. He followed up with a few hammerfists and Big John stopped it.
One thing I’m enjoying about this show is the idea that one fighter will get the contract so it brings a story that carries over from fight to fight. Fighters should be trying to outdo each other as the night goes on. It’s a new element that you don’t normally get on typical UFC shows.
Hiscoe’s Analysis: It was a big knockout but was also a pretty boring fight until then so it will depend on if Dana White values knockout power over exciting fights or not. Realistically, heavyweight has a greater need for new talent than bantamweight does, but I still expect Dana White to go with Boston Salmon.
OK, back to Snoopcast for the final fight. I should add that you can see Snoop and Faber in a box in the corner of the screen when on Snoopcast.
(5) Matt Bessette vs. Kurt Holobaugh (Featherweight 145 lbs)
Result: Holobaugh by first round knockout
Both guys came out swinging. Bessette landed a nice high kick early and Holobaugh delivered a big flurry of punches against the cage after hurting him with an uppercut. Holobaugh countered a high kick with a right hand. Holobaugh unloaded on Bessette and finished him with punches to the body and then to the head standing and Bessette dropped, ending the fight. Snoop sang “Rock a bye baby” after the KO.
Hiscoe’s Analysis: Holobaugh probably just won the contract with that performance.
They previewed next week’s featured bout between Daniel Spohn and Angel DeAnda.
Laura Sanko interviewed Dana White. He said that he was going to give out two contracts. Come on Dana, make a decision. They went to Holobaugh and Salmon.
Final Thoughts: At just over two hours, this was a very palatable show. I love the story weaved throughout the show of which fighter is going to put on the best performance and win the contract. It’s a new, fun concept that hardcore UFC fans should eat up. The Snoop thing is harmless fun for a show like this, and again it makes it feel fresh even if there’s not a lot of substance there. With so many UFC shows, interest in this show is likely to fade, but after one episode, I’m a fan of Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series.
NOW CHECK OUT MICHAEL GROCKE’S ALTERNATIVE PERSPECTIVE ON THIS EVENT: 7/11 Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series Report: Grocke’s review of debut episode of new UFC Fight Pass program