LAS VEGAS – The second season of Dana White’s Contender Series kicks off tonight, and MMAjunkie is on the scene.
The event, which teakes place at The Utlimate Fighter Gym, begins at 8 p.m. ET and streams live on UFC Fight Pass.
The card is headlined by a light heavyweight bout between Dashawn Boatwright (3-0) and Alonzo Menifield (6-0), a Bellator, LFA and RFA veteran who won a fight against Daniel Jolly on Dana White’s Contender Series 3 in 2017, but didn’t get a contract. In the co-feature, CES MMA welterweight champion Chris Curtis (17-5) meets Boston-based Sean Lally (8-2).
But without question, the most anticipated bout of the first week is between former NFL veterans Greg Hardy (0-0) and Austen Lane (4-0) at heavyweight. Hardy, a former All-Pro who has been training with American Top Team, made his amateur debut this past November and picked up a 32-second TKO win. Hardy landing a spot on the Contender Series has been met with controversy given his checkered past. He was convicted for assaulting his ex-girlfriend in July 2014, only to have the charges dropped after the alleged victim refused to testify in his appeal.
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In the night’s first contest, middleweight Kevin Holland (12-3) showboated his way to a decision win over an outgunned Will Santiago (9-5).
Holland looked to push the pace early, darting forward and firing kicks to all levels as Santiago tried to stay out of range. A Santiago counter left seemed to draw his opponent’s attention, and Holland ended up shooting inside and trying to take the action to the floor. Santiago briefly looked for a guillotine choke, but the two moved quickly back to the feet.
Holland continued as the aggressor, with Santiago content to counter against his taller foe. Holland gained confidence as the round wore on, dropping his hands and smiling as he threw elbows and punches for a variety of angles. He also seemed to be talking to not only his cornermen, but his opponent’s, as well.
Holland continued with the creativity in the second, throwing a few spinning attacks to start and showing little regard for his opponent’s counter offerings. Santiago loaded up on every strike thrown but found only minimal success, and Holland verbally let him know he wasn’t landing clean. A leaping knee for Holland landed clean, and Santiago started bleeding under his left eye. Still, Holland remained patient in his attacks, picking his opponent apart from the outside.
Santiago finally landed clean with a big left early in the third, sending an off-balance Holland to the floor. Holland crawled right back up and stuck out his tongue, but Santiago tagged him again shortly after. Still, the offense didn’t last long, and Holland quickly recovered and started taunting again. Atfer a few well-placed slaps, Holland told his opponent he was giving him a little Nick Diaz and then went back to his volume striking.
Santiago did get a pair of late takedowns, but he couldn’t do anything with the position, and Holland cruised to a unanimous-decision win, 30-27 on all three cards.
Complete Dana White’s Contender Series 9 results include:Alonzo Menifield vs. Dashawn Boatwright Chris Curtis vs. Sean Lally Greg Hardy vs. Austen Lane Rico DiSciullo vs. Montel Jackson Kevin Holland def. Will Santiago via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
For complete coverage of Dana White’s Contender Series 9, check out the UFC Events section of the site.