Week 2 of Contender Series looks set to showcase an impressive set of prospects. And alongside bantamweight, featherweight, and a women’s strawweight bout, with a pair of middleweight fights book-ending the card, fans could see some fresh and exciting talent coming to the 185 lb division.
As always, DWCS holds no guarantees. While we should be in for some solid action matchmaking, just who gets a contract or how all comes down to some very sensitive whims. That said, let’s take a look at the fights!
Joseph Pyfer vs Dustin Stolzfus
Joseph Pyfer (7-1) has been primed to be a real player on the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic scene, having only been to decision once in seven wins. Unlike some of the other fighters facing opponents with underwhelming records, Pyfer’s fought people that have been in some wars against very legitimate competition. As the former Art of War and Ring of Combat champ, his boxing is solid, his leg kicks have some snap, but he has had trouble with opponents rushing him from time to time. His submission game is also wildly fun, always remaining active with his grappling and displaying patience when in tough spots.
Fellow Pennsylvanian Stolzfus (12-1) has gone so far as to fight in Germany for GMC, where he defeated Cologne’s Jonas Billstein. Stolzfus has a patient boxing approach with great fundamentals with hard clinch knees. He’s also an opportunist with a monster right hand and wild scrambles paired with good submission defense.
Adrian Yanez vs Brady Huang
Huang is a fighter that’s a bit hard to read. He’s got a great record (11-1), including a win over a very legit Hidekazu Fukushima in Pancrase, but has also has also been feasting on very weak opposition in Dragon House and a lone bout in Gladiator Challenge. Good for skill development and highlight reels, but can always lead to a fighter getting a bit spoiled with opponents that they’re clearly booked to dominate. He does look like a good talent, though. There’s a lot to like in his top control game and constant pressure.
Yanez (10-3) tore it up on the Texas scene with Fury FC and LFA, with good wins over Trent Meaux and Kyle Estrada. He puts on some lovely pressure when he crowds and corners an opponent, going to the body and head and then the body again to punish his prey. The way he stays on a downed fighter then disengages and returns creates an ebb and flow. That flow becomes a one-shot tidal wave. Yanez should have the upper hand and be the rightful favorite, but Huang might be able to slow the pace with his grappling and work submissions to a victory.
Vanessa Demopoulos vs Cory McKenna
Demopoulos (5-1) is another LFA export, and a true fireplug. Hard shots on the feet and quick, steady trip takedowns are a staple—but she’s mostly content to batter her adversary while on the ground. She can hit pretty hard, and her submission game is pretty damn good. She’s also got a fun side gig as an exotic dancer.
McKenna (4-1) is a former amateur champion that came up through Cage Warriors and has a knack for making fights as ugly as they need to be. With a smart, grinding style, she’s good at controlling the action and doling out punishment in small doses and making it add up. Her striking is a bit wild, but her work in-close is effective. It may be a problem against another strong fighter like Demopoulos, and she may struggle to depend on her takedown approach.
T.J. Laramie vs Daniel Swain
Laramie’s been tearing up the Canadian scene for some time now, having built a reputation for toughness and fast hands in the process. He knew that the call for him to join the UFC was just a matter of time, and this looks like his opportunity. Laramie has everything to succeed in MMA – with his takedown game, control from top, submission threats, good striking and conditioning, etc. – but his defense can be compromised at times. To that end, he’s been finished by strikes twice, but he’s still 11-3 as a pro and has a lot of upside. His entries can be smooth, his strikes come in heavy. The kid’s got a lot going on for him.
He’ll have to get past Daniel Swain (20-9, 1 draw), a well-traveled talent that has fought in King of the Cage, Pancrase, RFA and M-1. He’s a scrappy opportunist that holds on like a Rottweiler when he needs to. Yes, some of his opponents are a mixed bag, especially earlier on in his career, but his talent is definitely there and his submission game is brutal. Problem is his striking game is at a deficit against someone like Laramie and his chin has been tested in the past. Laramie’s the sturdier and heavier hitter of the two, but don’t be surprised if Swain ends up catching a limb or choking him to sleep.
Anthony Adams vs Impa Kasanganay
Adams (8-1) had a great run on the Colorado scene, and carried an undefeated record into his first Contender Series bout in 2018. While that one didn’t go his way, ending in a split decision loss, he made the most of his following outing in LFA with a victory over Josh Cavan. He’s fine keeping things standing, but also works hard for back takes and can do well dealing damage on the ground.
Kasanganay (6-0) is a great athlete that is never out of a fight. While he can be taken down, he’s always keen to spring back up and work out of submission attempts, and he hits pretty damn hard. Sometimes it’s not pretty, but he can outwork other fighters with physicality and fight smarts. While he won a Contender Series bout last year, he wasn’t signed. This time around, he might just make the kind of statement that gets him in the door.
Here’s a look at the full fight night lineup:
Joseph Pyfer (185.5) vs. Dustin Stoltzfus (184.5) – Middleweight
Adrian Yanez (135.5) vs. Brady Huang (135.5) – Bantamweight
Crystal Vanessa Demopoulos (116) vs. Cory McKenna (116) – Strawweight
T.J. Laramie (146) vs. Daniel Swain (145.5) – Featherweight
Anthony Adams (184.5) vs. Impa Kasanganay (185) – Middleweight
Dana White’s Contender Series airs this Tuesday night, as usual. The card will be streaming live exclusively on ESPN+ at 8pm Eastern/5pm Pacific.
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