THE DEFINITIVE GUIDE: DANA WHITE’S CONTENDER SERIES SEASON 4 WEEK 7

So here it is!

This week, week seven, marks the last week before the Dana White’s Contender Series takes a five week break, returning in November.

We’ve had an incredible run of fights in this 2020 season, and the mid-season finale should bring more of the same.

The Card

Gregory Rodrigues  vs.  Jordan Williams

M. Naimov  vs.  Collin Anglin

Korey Kuppe  vs.  Michael Lombardo

Danyelle Wolf  vs.  Taneisha Tennant

Kyle Driscoll  vs.  Dinis Paiva

Our prediction record sits at 18-10-1, and I’m looking to get five more in the correct column. Join me now as we take a look at these exciting prospects and what they bring to the table.

Featherweight: Kyle Driscoll vs. Dinis Paiva

Kyle Driscoll (11-3-0) is a tall featherweight coming out of the American Kickboxing Academy.

The 26 year old Driscoll is a well-rounded grinder. He is great at using his big frame for extra leverage, and his grappling against the cage is fantastic. Driscoll’s offense is pugnacious in general: he moves forward, strikes fast, and will bully his opponents against the cage or mat.

The positional awareness that this athlete possesses is quite impressive. Paired with Driscoll’s offensive wrestling, he is always adjusting and grinding, and just making his opponent uncomfortable.

On the feet, Driscoll is pretty solid as well. He puches long, and will tee off on his opponents against the cage to set up further wrestling. Of all of his weapons in the striking realm, I’m most impressed with his kicks. He slams his shins to the legs, body, and head of his opposition.

Driscoll’s ability to feint on the feet and shuffle forward or grind for a full 15 minutes is something to watch as well.

Dinis Paiva (13-7-0) fights out of Rhode Island and is affiliated with team Juniko.

Paiva has been a pro for almost a decade (he made his pro debut in 2011), so qualify this man as a combat sports vet. His stand up skills are crafty and he’s a smooth operator with his hands.

The composure of Paiva is what impresses me the most about Paiva. He is super relaxed in the cage. He likes to settle into the fight and control the cage through his sharp hands and slick head movement.

He has good kicks as well, but he does not use them often. He does not use his wrestling or grappling often either. That’s because he doesn’t often have to.

Most of all, Paiva is successful when he can keep the fight slow and at his pace, a pace where he can casually pick away and avoid danger with his superior boxing.

Prediction: Kyle Driscoll.

While Paiva has been in this game for a while, his fighting style is representative of a one-dimensional athlete that shines with fighters who allow him to work comfortably. That is not Kyle Driscoll.

Driscoll comes with a pressure that I’m not sure Paiva will be able to cope with. In addition, size will be a factor here.

Paiva is 5’9″ and Driscoll is 6’0″, and while that is not the largest size difference we’ve ever seen, it will be exaserbated by the high-pressure, will-imposing fighting style that Driscoll brings to the table.

Even if Driscoll does not get his wrestling going, which is unlikely, he possesses great kicks in high volume. I think the AKA product can be pretty effective with his leg kicks, and Paiva stands in a boxing stance that will not wear them well.

I expect Driscoll to take Paiva down and impose his will AKA-style.

Featherweight: Taneisha Tennant vs. Danyelle Wolf

Taneisha Tennant (3-0-0) is a fighter out of New York, New York.

Tennant is the type of striker to pick away at range. She likes to use long hooks and jabs with her hands, and she’ll throw outside leg kicks pretty regularly.

She has great head movement and has fantastic cage awareness to circle off the fence when she’s being pressured.

Danyelle Wolf (0-0-0) is a boxer out of San Diego, California. A perrinial Olympic hopeful from 2012 to just last year, Wolf has shifted her focus from the squared circle to the caged octagon.

She has awesome boxing (clearly), and has traveled the world looking to round out her skills in order to make the eventual leap to MMA.

Her inablity to get fighters to agree at the amateur and professional level in MMA has led her straight into the DWCS cage for her MMA debut.

Prediction: Wolf.

This is a unique match up considering that one of the competitors, Danyelle Wolf has never competed in MMA. Not professionally or on the amateur level. That said, she has a ton of Olympic level amateur boxing experience.

I think that Tennant will need to use the things that Wolf is not used to in competition: elbows, knees, grappling against the fence and kicks to the legs. She will need to be complete in her approach to the specialist, Wolf.

One interesting note about this bout is that Wolf competed in boxing at 152 lbs and Tennant has only competed at 135 lbs, so Wolf should be the bigger woman on Tuesday.

I think the specialist will win out, and Wolf will take the victory.

Welterweight: Korey Kuppe vs. Michael Lombardo

Korey Kuppe (8-3-0) is a Michigan fighter with team Macomb Martial Arts. Otherwise known as “The Womanizer”, Kuppe is a long welterweight at 6’5″ tall with a 75″ reach.

Kuppe fights with a sideways Karate stance, and uses his side kicks to maintain distance. The unique wrinkle to the game of Kuppe is that he often looks to wrestle. His big frame allows him to gain extra leverage that is not typical of a welterweight.

His usual offensive entry works off of leaping in with a side kick or oblique kick to throw a straight punch or shoot in with a wrestling attempt. If he can get a takedown, his size makes his top game pretty oppressive.

Watching Kuppe maintain distance in the fight is impressive, but you get the sense that he is uncomfortable in inside exchanges. Punching exchanges in general don’t inspire confidence in Kuppe, but he looks great in kicking range.

Kuppe has the classic double edged sword of being a tall, lengthy fighter: he has trouble stuffing takedowns, but if he can recover guard, his long limbs make him a constant submission threat. That said, his defense against ground and pound is a little leaky.

For an example of what his long legs allow for on the floor, look at his last fight against JP Saint Louis. Kuppe was able to lock up a triangle with both of Saint Louis’ arms on the inside. Stuck with nowhere to go, JP Saint Louis was at the mercy of the referee as Kuppe was able to rain elbows to a defenseless opponent.

Michael Lombardo (10-2-0) trains out of Florida with American Top Team. He is a returning athlete to the DWCS cage, only this time at a weight class lower. He has not been finished in 12 contests, and has proven himself to be a durable, aggressive fighter.

Lombardo is a solid wrestler with finishing ability. His boxing looks good, and he hits with some serious power.

The top game of Lombardo is where he is safest. He holds position well, and his submission defense is a mix of technical prowess and stubbornness (watch his bout against Kyle Daukaus). His ground and pound has not been very active in the past.

In recent,Lombardo really seems to have relaxed into his game. His most recent bout at M-1 USA 4 showed us the more patient side of Lombardo. He jabbed, and slowly edged his way into boxing range against a taller, unorthodox opponent.

Defensively, Lombardo still has some issues such as head movement and takedown defense. Make no mistake, he has (and maybe still is) improving in these aspects of his game, but these holes grow larger as he gets overwhelmed with striking volume.

Prediction: Lombardo.

This is a difficult one to guess. Each man has holes in their games that favor the other.

For example, Lombardo gets easily backed up and leaves his neck exposed quite often when shooting for a takedown. These favor Kuppe, who will often leap in for strikes (which might back Lombardo up) and use his long limbs to lock up chokes as he has done in the past.

To counter that, Kuppe is vulnerable to takedowns and is easily hit with hooks – he leaves his chin up in the boxing. Lombardo’s best punch is an overhand right that seems tailor-made to clip taller opponents.

What split the difference for me is that Kuppe has been finished before, and Lombardo has not. Not only has Kuppe been finished, but he’s been knocked out twice. I’m pretty confident on how each man could win, but I lean on Lombardo to win.

Featherweight: Collin Anglin vs. Muhammadjon Naimov

Collin Anglin (7-1-0) is a fighter out of Denver, originally affiliated with the Scorpion Fighting System, but a recent move has taken him to a new camp.

Anglin is a dynamic striker who utilizes kicks and punches at odd angles. In addition, spinning attacks are not out of the question.

Anglin has great head movement, and he circles latterly with ease. It is not until he’s pressured hard that he starts to back straight up into the cage.

His wrestling defense serves his striking well. Anglin is able to leap in with combinations and quickly pummle in when opponents seek to grapple.

Anglin likes to pressure opponents against the cage and unleash strikes when his opponent is trapped, but he will

Muhammadjon Naimov (5-0-0) fights out of Elevation Fight Team in Denver, Colorado, but he hails from Taijikistan.

Naimov’s game is young, but dangerous. He pairs his textbook leg kicks and defensive shell with spinning attacks and wild overhand punches. He seems to be both technical and unpredictable where it counts.

While he’s a definite threat in a shootout, he seems to lose his footing and leaves himself exposed in boxing exchanges.

Like I said, his leg kick is great. It is easily the most effective weapon in the toolbox of Naimov. He whips it from multiple setups and will alternate between inside and outside leg kicks. In his last bout at Titan FC 62, Naimov struck out with lethal calf kicks that eventually caused his opponent to drop to the mat and tap out.

Prediction: Naimov.

Naimov’s last bout, only two months ago, he fought a fighter that is very similar to his opponent on Tuesday. Naimov walked forward and answered the superior head movement of his opponent with wicked kicks to the body and legs.

Anglin also leaves his chin a little high. This will be a natural target for Naimov who is down to brawl at times on the inside. That said, Anglin is no pushover. He has avenues to victory, but I don’t think he has pulled his fighting style off against anyone as technically sound as Naimov.

I don’t think this will be a blowout type of fight, but if it is, we have a serious prospect in Naimov.

Middleweight: Gregory Rodrigues  vs.  Jordan Williams

Gregory Rodrigues (7-2-0) is a Brazilian athlete out of the Black House team in California.

He has finished 6 of his 7 bouts, and 4 inside the first round. He is a prototypical Brazilian middleweight: his striking is powerful, his wrestling is good, and he’s fluent in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Rodrigues is also known for a dogged pursuit of the fight.

Rodrigues hits hard, and he is not afraid to get in a firefight. He’s shown his ability to land devistating shots in his fights, and he has more than a couple videos of hard sparring with the likes of Jacare Souza.

I like the way that Rodrigues mixes up all of his techniques. One moment he will be bombing on an opponent against the fince, only to drop down to go for a slam takedown.

Jordan Williams (8-1-0, 1NC) is on his third trip to Vegas to compete for a UFC contract at the Contender Series. After a no contest, and a split decision loss, Williams is hoping that this time he can put on a statement performance in front of the UFC boss, Dana White.

He fights out of the Nor-Cal Fighting Alliance, and, in addition to DWCS, Williams has also graced the Bellator cage.

Williams possesses good stand up that relies more on aggressiveness and power than finesse. He uses his hands very well, and is more than down to “just bleed” if he needs to. (Check his last Bellator bout. It’s some blood and guts stuff)

The top game of Williams is awesome. It has done some serious damage to his opponents’ health bars in the past.

Prediction: Rodrigues.

I think that the overall game of Rodrigues will be more than enough to beat the forward-marching, leather-throwing of Williams. This is especially true if Rodrigues looks to take his opponent down.

The size of Rodrigues will be a lot to deal with for Williams, who cannot cut weight due to his Type I diabetes.

Williams is very good, and uses his toughness and conditioning like a weapon. I just do not think it will be enough, because Williams is also very hittable, and I don’t think he can afford to take the shots that Rodrigues will be firing his way.

And that’s it!

Like I mentioned earlier, this week is our last before the Contender Series takes a five week break. I’ve had a blast doing these, so it will feel like a long wait for the return come November.

Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you Tuesday for the live play-by-play.

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