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J.P. Buys, Gloria de Paula, Tucker Lutz and Victoria Leonardo punched their tickets to the Ultimate Fighting Championship during the Season 4 finale of Dana White’s Contender Series on Tuesday at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. The season concludes with 37 new UFC recruits, some of whom have already touched down inside the Octagon.
Buys (9-2) joined his wife Cheyanne on the UFC roster with his controversial technical submission of Jacob Silva in the first round of their flyweight showcase. With Silva stuck in a guillotine choke near the base of the fence, referee Marc Goddard intervened 4:54 into Round 1 despite the fact that there was neither a tapout nor concrete proof that the former Fury Fighting Championship titleholder had lost consciousness. Nevertheless, the stoppage was called, with Silva (6-4) immediately leaping to his feet to protest.
The controversy overshadowed a stellar performance from Buys, who executed an early takedown and ran circles around his counterpart on the mat. The South African moved from one dominant position to the next, applied his ground-and-pound and threatened with multiple submissions before the anticlimactic finish.
Buys, 24, will ride a five-fight winning streak into his UFC debut.
Maximov Neutralizes Hefty Cota
Nick Diaz Academy standout Nick Maximov moved up in weight, leaned on his superior all-around skills, overcame a 54½-pound deficit and took a unanimous decision from Oscar Cota in a three-round heavyweight scrap. Maximov (6-0), who typically competes in the middleweight and light heavyweight divisions, carried all three scorecards: 30-26, 30-26 and 29-28.
Cota (11-3) spent much of the 15-minute bout on his back. He used an effective sprawl to cut off Maximov’s advances in the first round but had no such luck in the second and third. The Californian moved into half guard at will, maintained an advantageous position and applied his ground-and-pound, doing enough to corral Cota on the canvas and keep referee Jason Herzog from forcing a restart.
The 22-year-old Maximov had never before fought beyond the second round.
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De Paula Routs Unbeaten Macias
A damaging clinch game, crushing ground-and-pound and crisp combinations at range spurred Chute Boxe’s Gloria de Paula to a unanimous decision in their three-round women’s strawweight tilt. De Paula (5-2) swept the scorecards with 30-26, 30-26 and 30-27 marks from the judges.
Macias (4-1) executed a beautiful throw inside the first minute of the first round, but the Factory X-trained judoka was otherwise ineffective. De Paula assaulted her with knees to the body and elbows upstairs, all while she became more and more resistant to her takedown attempts. The Brazilian found another gear in Round 3, where she invited Macias into the clinch before slamming repeated knees into her body and pairing them with elbows to the head.
De Paula, 25, has won four of her last five fights.
Lutz Controls Blackledge, Settles for Decision
A multi-pronged offensive attack carried Tucker Lutz to a unanimous decision over Syndicate MMA export Sherrard Blackledge in a grueling three-round lightweight encounter. All three cageside judges scored it the same: 30-27 for Lutz (11-1).
Blackledge (5-1) failed to establish himself in any phase of the fight. Lutz chipped away with heavy leg kicks and mixed in a few knees to the head, but he separated himself in the clinch and ground exchanges. He climbed to full mount in the first round, threatened with a guillotine choke in the second and continued to bleed Blackledge’s gas tank dry in the third. There, he struck for a pair of takedowns, only to see the action stall on the canvas.
Operating out of the Baltimore-based Ground Control outfit, Lutz has rattled off 11 consecutive victories.
Leonardo Buries Undefeated Hackett
Invicta Fighting Championships veteran Victoria Leonardo disposed of the previously unbeaten Chelsea Hackett with punches in the second round of their women’s flyweight pairing. Leonardo (8-2) brought it to a close 4:41 into Round 2, as she posted her sixth win in seven appearances.
Deep-water experience was the difference. Hackett, 21, excelled in the standup exchanges, where the muay Thai stylist scored with leg kicks, front kicks to the face and counter right hands. Leonardo answered with takedowns, positional control and ground-and-pound late in the first round, setting the table for what was to come. Hackett (3-1-1) stunned the Louisianan with a sharp right in the middle stanza but failed to maintain a comfortable distance. Leonardo delivered another takedown with roughly 90 seconds to go in Round 2, progressed to full mount and sealed the deal with a steady burst of powerful punches and hammerfists.
The knockout was the first of Leonardo’s 10-fight career.