After almost a year of waiting and a brief postponement, UFC hopefuls will once again convene at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas.
I am pretty excited for the return of Dana White’s personal promotion. The fights tend to be great, as every athlete on the card is fighting for a dream that is just within arm’s reach.
Dana White’s Contender Series Season 4 kicks off on August 4th with a night of five fights across four weight classes.
Kenny Cross v. Kevin Syler
Uros Medic v. Mikey Gonzalez
Ty Flores v. Dustin Jacoby
Luis Rodriguez v. Jerome Rivera
Jose Flores v. Jordan Leavitt
Let’s take more detailed look at the fighters of of Dana White’s Contender Series Season 4, Week 1.
Lightweight: Kenny Cross v. Kevin Syler
In the main event, a couple of Lightweights take the stage.
Kevin Syler (10-0-0) fights out of Boliva, and he gets his second crack at a UFC contract at Dana White’s Contender Series.
Syler fought in Season 3 and although he won a dominant unanimous decision over Lance Lawrence, he missed the featherweight limit by 6.5 pounds.
He as since moved up to lightweight and picked up a win via triangle in Combate Bolivia 3 where he made his divisional debut.
Kenny Cross (10-3-0) comes out of Michigan Top Team, and is the current Lights Out Championship lightweight champion. His aggressive striking has put him on the map with a four-fight winning steak that saw him finish all opponents with either a KO or TKO.
This bout is an interesting one, as both athletes are talented, but tend to win in opposite ways.
If the fight hits the canvas, Syler is a conservative submission threat. He uses positional dominance and strikes to slowly work his way to a tapout. Also, judging from his last contest on DWCS, he feels quite comfortable to strike if it’s going his way.
As we know, fights start on the feet, and that is where Cross is strongest. Cross’ athleticism and power prove a threat to anyone in the world.
Looking to his fight against Jonas Flok, Cross can carry his striking power all the way into the third round, even if the fight is not going his way.
Prediction: Syler. Cross’ number one issue has been his wrestling, and his only losses have come via submission.
While Cross has the ability to get the knockout at any time, Syler’s standup game is solid enough that I see him being able to get through.
Syler’s professional career up to this point has been perfect, and I’m not sure that changes on Tuesday.
Welterweight: Uros Medic v. Mikey Gonzalez
Uros Medic and Mikey Gonzalez offer us a clash of styles that should result in a pretty interesting affair.
Uros Medic (5-0-0) fights out of Alaska and has been a staple of Alaska FC’s welterweight division. All of his wins are via finish, with three by KO/TKO and two by triangle choke.
Aggressive and long, Medic tends to throw caution to the wind which often results in his fights being scrambling brawls. He is at his best when the fight gets wild.
Mikey Gonzalez (7-1-0) is an athlete who chooses a methodical path to victory. He fights out of California and he is affiliated with Tactica BJJ.
He sees his best success against same-size or shorter opponents where he can use his kicks to stay long and pick his opponents apart. The hook kick seems to be a favorite of Gonzalez’, and he has used it in the finishing sequence of his last two fights.
On paper, Gonzalez is the better submission artist, but Medic has proven he is a threat there as well.
Overall, whoever can set the pace of the fight will be victorious.
Prediction: Medic. Gonzalez fights best when his opponents back up and allow him the space and time to set up his kicks. That is not the type of opponent he will get in Medic.
Gonzalez tends to back up in a straight line when pressured, and Medic is no stranger to fighting along the fence. This cage-fighting should allow Medic to turn the fight into the wild affair he’s after.
Light Heavyweight: Ty Flores v. Dustin Jacoby
Ty Flores (7-2-0) is a relatively young fighter out of Denver, training with the illustrious Elevation Fight Team.
Flores only started training with Elevation before his last bout with Erick Murray Jr., but being only 26, Flores has undoubtedly improved under their roof.
A wrestler through and through, Flores knows how to grind. Watching his bout against James Bochnovic, it was clear he had to dig deep and use his wrestling to win a close decision.
Flores is on a five-fight winning streak, which last saw him finish Erick Murray Jr in round 2. He saw some challenges in the striking department there, but pulled it through when he was able to get his grappling started.
Dustin Jacoby (10-5-0 MMA, 10-8-0 Kickboxing, 1-0-0 Boxing) has been a steward of combat sports since his short stint in the UFC. He fights out of Illinois and is affiliated with Finney’s HIT Squad.
The 32 year old fighter is on a four-fight winning streak across three sports which includes two in kickboxing, a boxing contest, and an MMA bout.
Jacoby has competed most notably in Glory Kickboxing, but his latest kickboxing win was a second-round stoppage of MMA journeyman Tony Lopez.
Jacoby’s last MMA competition, his latest combat sports showing, was a unanimous decision win was over fellow UFC-vet Cody East in the heavyweight division. There, he displayed much improved takedown defense, a common issue in his five defeats in MMA.
Prediction: Jacoby. In my mind, the experience differential is just too much.
Jacoby has had more professional bouts in kickboxing alone than Flores has had MMA competitions.
Flores struggles on the feet at times, so he will need to take this to the floor. Jacoby has vastly improved his takedown defense, and his striking game is leagues above what Flores brings to the table.
Flyweight: Luis Rodriguez v. Jerome Rivera
Luis Ronaldo Rodriguez (11-1-0) is a Mexican prospect who is riding a seven-fight win streak. This fight will be his first at 125 pounds.
Rodriguez is relatively unproven as he has only just managed to make it to LUX Fight League in his last bout where he got a stoppage win in round 2.
In the little footage I could find, Rodriguez seems to be a vicious striker who is able to generate a lot of power out of his muscular 5’6″ frame.
The most dangerous weapon of Rodriguez seems to be his leg kicks to the lead leg of his opponents. He uses this kick to set up boxing combos to the head and body.
Jerome Rivera (9-2-0) comes out of New Mexico, and the 25 year old fighter has won two straight, rebounding from a pair of losses.
Rivera is talented everywhere, but he is most notable for his submission attacks. He has used his grappling skills to pick up seven of his nine wins.
Rivera is able to strike from distance as well, utilizing long kicks and punches before eventually settling in the clinch. After all, he is 5’10” at flyweight.
In the clinch, Rivera is also skilled at using elbows and knees to attack in close, setting up takedown attempts and longer strikes as his opponents seek a way out.
Prediction: Rodriguez. This one was a tough fight to pick, so I’m going with my gut.
There isn’t much footage to go off of for Rodriguez, but what I did see impressed me. His strikes are powerful, and his counter-striking is usually on-point. I think Rodriguez’ speed and athleticism will allow him to be first in striking exchanges.
The key will be his leg kicks. If Rodriguez can get them going, the long legs of Rivera are going to be sore for a while.
Lightweight: Jose Flores v. Jordan Leavitt
Jose “Luke” Flores (9-1-0) is a top prospect out of Texas and is the second DWCS alum on the card. Flores competed in the first season of DWCS, losing via submission to Matt Frevola.
Following that loss, Flores took almost two years off from competition before returning to a pair of stoppage wins in Combate.
Those bouts showed a much-improved Jose Flores compared to what we saw in his first DWCS appearance in 2017. The Texas-based fighter looked stronger and leaner, and his offensive wrestling was on display.
Jordan Leavitt (6-0-0) is a Syndicate MMA product and fights out of Las Vegas.
Leavitt is a truly unorthodox talent, using imanari rolls, outside shots, and even sacrifice throws to get the fight to the floor. Once there, he is adept at using odd positions and scrambles to gain control of the position or go for submissions.
On the feet, Leavitt frustrates his opponents with pot-shots and oblique kicks. In an interview with The MMA Report, Leavitt reported that he had only been hit once inside the cage. I’m not sure that’s true, but looking at his footage, he’s not far off.
This will be a fun one to open the night with.
Jose Flores and Jordan Leavitt will both need to be the best versions of themselves to get the win on Tuesday.
Both fighters are skilled on the floor. Leavitt has an ability to tangle opponents into challenging, technical submission situations that Flores will have to be weary of.
Flores fights utilizing straight punches and solid kicks. He has solid takedowns from the clinch and is able to maintain control without being flashy.
Prediction: Leavitt. I think these two athletes will inevitably end up on the canvas. Unless Flores plays it completely safe, Leavitt will eventually find an opening for a sweep or submission.
Leavitt tends to hang out on the cage when the fight is on the feet, and I think Flores will try to set up clinch exchanges there. That will more than likely be Flores’ undoing.
And that’s it! Stay tuned to Film Fight Freaks for the post-fight and our other UFC coverage.
See you next week for our Dana White’s Contender Series Season 4, Week 2 guide.
Until then, enjoy the fights!