Contender Series (DWCS) has been giving us some prime action this year, and this week doesn’t appear to be much different.
This week’s main event should be great. England’s Thomas Paull (11-3) meets Argentina’s Esteban Ribovics (10-0) at lightweight in an action bout. Paull is a punishing striker with excellent finishing instincts that works well with his feints for his setups. He does have the unfortunate habit of backing straight up if pressured enough and sometimes eating a bit too much damage. He’s also deaf, which is amazing. Not sure how his corner communicates things with him during the fight, but he gets his work done, no doubt.
Ribovics is another striker that has some powerful shots that end up putting dudes to sleep. Fortunately for him, he’s also got a bit of long-haul experience, as he’s been to the third round twice. Granted, he’s never faced a pressure wrestler or the type of grappler that can really sap your energy. Don’t get it twisted: his third round results can be devastating.
All in all, Paull may be the more well rounded of the two and has faced more established overall competition. But that doesn’t mean he can’t get reckless and pay for it. Ribovics seems like the more explosive athlete and he has a good head on his shoulders. He may not be flustered by the feints and jabs, but might run out of weapons as the fight goes on.
Ivan Valenzuela (8-1) has been a force in Mexico’s Lux Fight League. He’s absolutely a fighter that should be signed without having to do this, and you’ll see why when you get to see him fight. He punishes opponents with attacks of all kinds, and fights very smart when the other guy starts getting a bit too wild.
His opponent is Brazil’s Claudio Ribeiro (9-2) who packs a hell of a punch. He’s got a hell of a highlight reel too, despite a knack for also getting pressed up against the cage. His cardio is fine most of the time, but it can be tested. That notwithstanding, I’m calling this fight of the night right now. It should totally deliver and add some much-needed talent to middleweight.
Cage Warriors bantamweight champion Jack Cartwright should be on your radar already. He’s an exceptional talent with a calculated madman vibe. Terrifying power and a savvy and opportunistic submission game that catches people off guard consistently. He’s another talent that’s ready for the big show. He takes on Jose Johnson (14-7), who has been here before, losing to Ronnie Lawrence in 2020. He’s a good all-around fighter, but this may be a bit much. If anything, this smells like a showcase/setup here for Cartwright. Doesn’t mean Johnson doesn’t have a chance, though.
Hailey Cowan (6-2) went viral over her sensational finish a few years ago. She’s since shown that she’s way more than just that one kick, working smart from top position on the ground and making sure to thrive anywhere the fight may go. She meets Brazil’s Claudia Leite (7-2), who will make this as ugly as she has to make it. A ground control fighter with a ton of pressure, she really tries to find ways to break opponents. Her standup is mostly composed of wild swings, though. That also seems to burn out her cardio to a degree until she gets it back to the ground.
You can check out the weigh-in highlights here, courtesy of the crew over at MMAJunkie:
Full card is as follows:
Thomas Paull (155.5) vs. Esteban Ribovics (155.0) – Lightweight
Claudio Ribeiro (181.5) vs. Ivan Valenzuela (186.0) – Middlweight
Jack Cartwright (136.0) vs. Jose Johnson (136.0) – Bantamweight
Hailey Cowan (136.0) vs. Claudia Leite (136.0) – Bantamweight
Ahmad Hassanzada (156.0) vs. Nazim Sadykhov (155.5) – Lightweight
Dana White’s Contender Series takes place this Tuesday night starting at 8:00pm, streaming exclusively on ESPN+.
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