Fight Facts: Dana White’s Contender Series Season 4 Review

By: Jay Pettry
Nov 25, 2020

Sign up for ESPN+ right here, and you can then stream the Contender Series live on your smart TV, computer, phone, tablet or streaming device via the ESPN app.

Fight Facts is a breakdown of all of the interesting information and Octagon oddities on every card, with some puns, references and portmanteaus to keep things fun. These deep stat dives delve into the numbers, providing historical context and telling the stories behind those numbers.

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The fourth season of Dana White's Contender Series surged on even in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, delivering a record number of new signees to the Ultimate Fighting Championship. In a season where no fewer than three contracts were issued on any given night, Season 4 featured the biggest weight gap between two DWCS fighters and a remarkable signing rate for female fighters.

A Restocking Hiatus: Both Seasons 2 and 3 took a week off around July 4 weekend before carrying out the rest of the events. Season 4 began on Aug. 4, but after seven events, it took nearly two months off to return in November.

Same Verse, Worse Than the First: Season 3 of the Contender Series had one event where four fights took place due to a medical scratch. This happened on two occasions of this season, with Episodes 1 and 8 coming up short. Therefore, only 48 bouts happened during Season 4 of the Contender Series.

Overstuffed Roster: Trumping all previous years, 37 UFC contracts were doled out throughout the season. The past record was 29 after a failed drug test rescinded one in Season 3. There was also one fighter that picked up a spot on the revived season of “The Ultimate Fighter.”

Contract Lawyers on Retainer: Every card throughout the season awarded at least three contracts to the episode’s respective victors. This blows away the average for any of the past seasons, as Season 1 only saw one event where more than two contracts were issued.

Dana is Oprah: This season replicated the award from Season 3, Episode 3 where every victor earned a contract in Episodes 2, 8 and 10, although Episode 8 had four fights and Episode 10 had a TUF contract issued.

Rate Up: This season of the Contender Series brought up the finish rate by a small margin compared to last year (49 percent). Fifty-four percent of the bouts ended inside the distance, with 34.5 percent concluding in the opening round – significantly higher than last year (24.5 percent).

More Contracts, Fewer Stoppages: Like the preceding season and unlike the first two, Season 4 did not see a single five-fight card all end by stoppage. Episode 8 did have four fights with four finishes.

Picking the Regionals Clean: Four of the 10 fight cards this season featured at least three decisions in each. Unlike Season 3, Episode 2, no event had five straight decisions throughout the night. The most came at Episode 7, when four of five were left in the hands of the judges.

Record Killers: Out of this season’s crop of fighters, 25 came in with undefeated records; far fewer than the previous season (34). The results were split, as 13 remained unbeaten – with 10 earning UFC contracts and another going to TUF – while 12 suffered their first career defeats.

Youthful Spirit: Four fights pitted undefeated fighters against one another, and the three with less experience than their counterparts won. One match pitted 4-0 Sherrard Blackledge against 4-0 Cameron Church, and Blackledge won on the scorecards.

Miss Weight, Get Kicked in the Face: Just one fighter this season missed weight: Edson Gomez, who hit the scales three pounds above the welterweight limit. Gomez was fined 20 percent of his purse, and he was knocked out a second after the midpoint of his fight with Ignacio Bahamondes.

The Levy Was Not Dry: One single fight took place at a previously arranged catchweight: Natan Levy vs. Shaheen Santana, which went down at 160 pounds. Levy put his opponent to sleep to win a contract.

209 What What: The greatest disparity in weight took place at the final episode of Season 4, when Stockton, California, native Nick Maximov hit the scales at 209 pounds against Oscar Cota (263). This 54-pound weight lead for Cota did not work to his advantage, as Maximov outworked him to win.

And It Was A Drag: Maximov vs. Cota was the first heavyweight bout in Contender Series history to go the distance. Maximov needed three full rounds to overcome Cota, and he was offered a spot on TUF as his consolation prize.

Really Threw His Weight Around: The second-highest difference in weight also took place on Season 4, when Josh Parisian (265.5) met Chad Johnson (215) on Episode 3 and had 50.5 pounds to his benefit. Parisian finished his foe on the ground in the first round.

LFA Never Die: The trend of fighters that had their last bout with the Legacy Fighting Alliance continued, as more fighters came into the Contender Series with recent LFA bouts than any other organization. All but one of the winners who last fought for LFA were signed, as only Jerome Rivera did not earn a contract – and Maximov was added to TUF.

Bring Back Copa Combate: Eight fighters earned a spot on the Contender Series after a past victory in Combate Americas. Only two of those eight pulled off wins, and just Louis Cosce was signed as a result.

A DWCS Tournament: Tucker Lutz and Blackledge both recorded wins on the fifth and sixth episodes of this season, respectively, and they were matched up in Episode 10. Lutz won by decision, and he was given a UFC contract.

Win and You’re In: Six women’s bouts throughout Season 4, with most at strawweight, one at featherweight and another at flyweight. Even though four of the six fights ended by unanimous decision, all six women that got their hand raised were signed.

Love and Marriage: Married duo Cheyanne Buys and J.P. Buys each competed throughout the season. Both won and earned contracts.

Saying A Bro Hymn: The first pair of siblings to appear on the same card together competed on Episode 3. Both Louis Cosce and Orion Cosce won by knockout and picked up contracts. They were slated to both appear on UFC 255 for their debuts together, but O. Cosce suffered an injury and withdrew from the contest.

Chalk Up the Chalk: Far fewer than the season before (21), only 13 betting underdogs won throughout Season 4. Four fights featuring pick-‘em odds took place this season, more than any prior year.

The Galaxy is On Orion’s Belt: The biggest betting upset of the season came when O. Cosce (+325) pounded out Matt Dixon (-400) on Episode 3. Only four underdogs closing at +200 or above prevailed this season.

Oh Danny Boy, The Danny Boys Are…Danny Boys: Former Titan Fighting Championships champ Danny Sabatello came in against Taylor Moore on Episode 9 as the biggest betting favorite this season at -670. Sabatello won on the scorecards but did not impress the UFC brass, and he was not awarded a contract.

30 Ammy Wins, No Knockouts: With zero MMA experience before taking on Taneisha Tennant, amateur boxer Danyelle Wolf won a decision and earned a UFC contract at 37 years of age. She is the oldest fighter to compete in Contender Series history.

The Young Will Eat the Old: Of the nine victorious fighters that set foot in the cage at 30 or older on this season, eight were signed after their win. On the other hand, 22 fighters at least 30 years of age appeared and lost.

Truly Wonderful, the Mind of a Child Is: The lone 21-year-old to win this season, Cory McKenna captured a decision and a contract by beating Crystal Vanessa Demopoulos. The youngest fighter to earn a contract last season was 23 years old.

Reach Out and Touch Someone: Every fighter that came into their bout with a reach advantage over five inches greater than their opponent won. The most significant disparity came when Tafon Nchukwi displayed a wingspan 9.5 inches longer than his foe Al Matavao, and he dispatched Matavao with a head kick.

And He Already Won in the UFC: The quickest finish of the season came in Episode 2 when Adrian Yanez put away Brady Huang in 39 seconds. As a result, Yanez picked up the fifth-fastest knockout and sixth-fastest finish in Contender Series history. The fastest is still Alonzo Menifield’s eight-second demolition of Dashawn Boatwright at Season 2, Episode 1.

What Did the Five Toes Say to the Face? Bahamondes picked up the first front kick knockout in the history of the Contender Series when he booted Gomez in the face at Episode 8. Six previous kicks to the head had ended past fights on DWCS, but none with this particular strike.

Not Just A Big Man Choke: No unique submissions reared their heads on this season of the Contender Series. However, more arm-triangle chokes were pulled off than rear-naked chokes by a wide margin.

Triangular Sleeptacular: Although no unusual subs took place in any of the 10 episodes, Drako Rodriguez did land the first triangle choke in DWCS history when he put Leomana Martinez to sleep in the first round on Episode 6.

Never Say Never Again: Coming into their respective bouts in Season 4 of the Contender Series, eight fighters had never been stopped, four had never suffered a knockout loss, and ten had never been beaten on the scorecards.

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