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After a week off due to the slew of activities during International Fight Week, Dana White's Contender Series returns this Tuesday with another slate of fights featuring some of the best prospects in mixed martial arts. This week’s episode showcases 10 fighters battling with hopes to impress the UFC President and be rewarded with a contract in the top MMA organization. Some of the notables of this card include a DWCS veteran, a “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 23 alumnus, and one of the top grapplers in America.
Let’s dig deep into the card and predict who wins the scraps and possible earns employment in the UFC.
Tennessee native Pearce looks to punch his ticket to the UFC and extend his winning streak to five when he sets foot in the Octagon this week. The fighter with an 8-3 record is well-rounded, but hardly a finished product. The 27-year-old is a strong athlete, who can tend to be a little reckless.
The Valor Fights veteran has improved his striking greatly through his career. That aspect of his game was once viewed as a weakness but now might possibly be a strength. The MMA Lab team member is very poised -- working behind a range-finding jab and an accurate right hand. His lack of head movement makes him hittable but he has displayed a strong chin. He loves to throw flying knees or to grab the plum clinch and bludgeon his opponent with knees. He also has strong kicks with which he attacks all areas of his opponent’s body.
While his striking has greatly improved, wrestling is the cornerstone of his game. Pearce lacks drop-step entries but has very strong bodylock, from which he trips his opponent to the canvas or lateral drops them --a very risky move against better wrestlers. Throws are a bit of his specialty, favoring the thrilling suplex. While the crowd loves the move, he wastes a lot of energy going for the explosive movement. Pearce does well at passing to dominant positions, where he fires off deadly ground-and-pound. He makes the terrible mistake of giving up his back if he is taken down.
Pearce has shown some nice skills throughout his career, but a lot of it was displayed against lower level competition.
Rosales is one of the star pupils of Erik Paulson. The 23-year-old was undefeated as an amateur and has compiled an 11-4 record since turning professional. The current Fight Club OC title-holder has won four bouts in a row.
The Bellator MMA veteran is a solid striker who excels at throwing straight punches down the pipe. He likes to work the body with strikes and has great timing on his right hand. He appears to be growing into his power, scoring knockdowns in recent fights. He mixes in kicks well but lacks striking defense. The California native makes the mistake of dropping his hands and dipping his head to the same side over and over again, leaving him open to be tagged with a left hook or high kick. Rosales struggles when being pressured.
“Lil Badger” is a solid wrestler, but still has some big holes in his grappling game. He has the slick ability to take his opponent’s back but struggles when he ends up on bottom. He tends to roll, looking to unbalance his opponent instead of scrambling back to his feet.
This is a hard fight to predict as these fighters are pretty evenly matched. Both have shown glimpses of greatness, but I believe neither fighter is ready for the bright lights of the UFC. I have flipped back and forth on who I think will win. Rosales might have the higher upside but is also more inconsistent. “Lil Badger” has a quick knockout over solid prospect Ricardo Seixas, but also a dropped decision to Derion Chapman, who has a losing record. That is enough reason to scare me from picking Rosales. Give me Pearce by split decision.
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