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Dana White’s Contender Series 19 took place Tuesday in Las Vegas, and we’re grading the winners from the four-fight card, which streamed on ESPN+ from the UFC Apex in Las Vegas.
With a refreshing but digestible format that has had the MMA fanbase responding, this series has shown to have legs in multiple ways while serving as a crockpot for contenders whom the UFC matchmakers can use for future events. So, with that trend in mind, I will once again be taking a look at the winning fighters regardless of whether or not they won a UFC contract, grading their performances in regards to their probability of returning to a UFC stage.
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Weight class: Lightweight
Result: Jonathan Pearce def. Jacob Rosales via TKO (punch) – Round 3, 1:50
Summary: In what was my favorite fight of the night, Jonathan Pearce backed up everything he’s been saying in the leadup to his back-and-forth war with Jacob Rosales.
Pearce, whose popular story hit MMA Junkie earlier this week, came forward early with offensive pressure, which, in turn, allowed a composed Rosales to hit counters on his oncoming opponent.
Thankfully for Pearce, adversity is a face that is all-too-familiar to him, and he was able to keep his Zombie-like approach despite the counter strikes and submission attempts thrown his way. And once the second round started ticking away, you could begin to smell the momentum shifting.
Rosales’ feet started to steadily slow a bit while trying to stage offense in return, something that seemingly also made his head more of a stationary target for a marauding Pearce to latch onto – unleashing a series of unruly uppercuts that gave me flashbacks to Tim Boetsch’s classic upset over Yushin Okami.
Pearce continued to pour on the pressure in the third frame, where he ended up taking things to the floor for the finish (which was justly stopped by Herb Dean due to heavy ground strikes). Lightweight may be a stacked party to enter in regards to getting a contract with the UFC, but with a gritty style that reminds me of the second coming of Josh Neer and a feel-good story to go along with it, you can count me in when it comes to Pearce.
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