Persistence paid off for heavyweight Don’Tale Mayes at this week’s edition of Dana White’s Contender Series.
Las Vegas, NV — If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. There’s probably a lot of cliche sayings you could apply to Don’Tale Mayes entrance into the UFC. But if nothing else, Mayes certainly proved the value of persistence on Tuesday. Making his third appearance on Dana White’s Contender Series, Mayes finally punched his ticket to the UFC.
Quite literally, finishing opponent Ricardo Prasel via TKO in the final second of the opening round. Speaking to media outlets including Cageside Press following the fight, an upbeat Mayes said that “this shit’s like Christmas right now. Third time’s the charm. That’s what they say.” It certainly was. Mayes lost his first appearance on the show to Allen Crowder, before winning his next two. “The first time I f*cked up, came back. I’m showing, just because you don’t get the nod the first or second time, you can get it the third time.”
But after winning his second appearance and still not getting the contract, one would imagine confidence being an issue. His mindset heading into the series for the third time reflected that. “My last fight, it was real bloody, so I figured ‘I gotta kill somebody this time!'”
All joking aside, Mayes pointed out of Prasel that “the dude was 10-1, never been finished, I figured I’d go ahead and put that on my resume, be the first person to finish him. I had to get the nod.” Prasel, listed at 6″7, marked one of the rare times Mayes has been the smaller fighter in the cage. “It was different, I felt my punches coming a little short. So I had to take an extra step. It was causing my leg to get chewed up a little bit, but it’s cool. I got the job done.”
While his opponent’s skills on the ground were noteworthy, “it’s going to take more than jiu-jitsu to beat me,” Mayes said later. “You’re going to have to have the wrestling, you’re going to have to have some good hands.” He didn’t feel that was the case on Tuesday, at the UFC Apex. “I didn’t feel threatened by the hands or the wrestling game. I just figured I’d stuff a few jiu-jitsu takedowns and I’d be good.”
With the finish coming with a second remaining in round one, Mayes admitted that time was a factor. His second fight, and first win on the show, had been a second round finish. Mayes wanted to get the job done faster this time out. In the cage, “I heard the clicker” indicating there were ten seconds remaining. “I didn’t want to rush it. I wanted to get the finish in the first round. That was the goal, but I didn’t want to rush it. So I heard the click, and I was like ‘time to go!'”
The feeling winning, and getting the contract on the show, is clearly much better than his previous experiences. “It’s heartbreaking, especially when they sign everybody but you,” Mayes said of being the odd man out before. Still, “I understood, because the first time, I didn’t get the job done. The second time I did, I was 1-1, I broke even, so now it’s time, they brought me back and I got the job done. They couldn’t deny me again.”
As to what he worked on, from fight to fight, “first time was cardio. Second time was me just staying patient and not rushing it. So third time’s the charm.”
For more from Dana White’s Contender Series Season 3 Week 4 winner Don’Tale Mayes, watch the full post-fight press scrum above!