Scouting Prospects for the Contender Series Season 4: Part 1

Hailey Cowan
Hailey Cowan Credit: Legacy Fighting Alliance

Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series is confirmed as returning for a fourth season, not that there was ever any question. As an entry path into the UFC, the show has proven popular thus far. The fourth season will kick off in June or July, and interest should be high.

In this piece, we feature 25 prospects believed worthy of a spot on the Contender Series Season 4. Left out will be fighters that fought on the previous seasons, though some may return.

Hugo Cunha

Heavyweight | 25 | Rio de Janeiro, Brazil | 5-0 | 3 KO/TKO, 2 Submissions

Hugo Cunha doesn’t have a lot of experience in MMA but is a Brazilian National Team wrestler and a BJJ black belt. You will notice his level of competition has been poor as he’s fought three opponents with an 0-0 record. Cunha has still looked dominant thus far in his career and that’s with a 100% finish rate. From Brazil, the ‘Silverback’ has fought in Florida for Titan FC so fighting in the States increases his stock even more.

Renan Ferreira

Heavyweight | 30 | Rio de Janeiro, Brazil | 6-2 | Win Streak: 1 | 5 KO/TKO, 1 Submission

Renan Ferreira’s loss early on in his career to Vinicius Moreira doesn’t look so good today. That was early in his career though and the truth is his ceiling is much higher. Like Cunha, Ferreira has recently fought in the U.S., with that bout being for top promotion LFA. He won his last fight against Jared Vanderaa and before that was on his way to probably beating Brett Martin only to be DQ’d due to punches to the back on the head. “Problema” is a giant standing at 6’10” who has a perfect finishing rate all inside two rounds. All those finishes have come by TKO mostly by ground-and-pound. On the feet, he does hit hard, has heavy leg kicks, and a good jab. Ferreira is a problem on the mat being such a big guy, and he does not let up with his heavy ground strikes.

Bruno Miranda

Lightweight | 29 | Rio de Janeiro, Brazil | 13-3 | Win Streak: 4 | 8 KO/TKOs, 2 Submissions

Brazil’s Bruno Miranda lives in Phuket, Thailand as he trains out of Tiger Muay Thai with the likes of many top UFC athletes. Miranda has extensive experience in Muay Thai and it has shown throughout his MMA career. He’s a staple of South Korean promotion Road FC fighting for them nine times. He isn’t locked down in contract-wise and he has a fighting style that should draw the UFC in.

Al Matavao

Light heavyweight | 26 | Nu’uuli, Alaska | 8-2 | Win Streak: 4 | 5 KO/TKOs, 1 Submission

Alaska is a state that lacks higher level fighters but Al Matavao is someone that has potential. In his most recent fight he scored a 16-second knockout. With that alone it’s almost certain he will land on the Contender Series. His last loss was to Jake Heun but since then he has won his next four fights. Matavao is fun to watch and has a style that always produces exciting fights.

Jake Hadley

Flyweight | 23 | Birmingham, England | 5-0 | Win Streak: 7 | 1 KO/TKOs, 3 Submissions

Jake Hadley is only 5-0 as a pro but in his amateur career, he was successful and was a 4x amateur British flyweight champion. When Hadley was only 3-0 as a pro he fought a top prospect in Nkazimulo Zulu. Hadley beat him for the EFC Worldwide Flyweight Championship. In his latest fight, he beat a very good Blaine O’Driscoll in his Bellator debut. He could very well go straight to the UFC and there would be no complaints.

Nikolas Motta

Lightweight | 26 | Governador Valadares, Minas Gerais, Brazil | 11-3 | Win Streak: 2 | 8 KO/TKOs

In 2015, Nikolas Motta competed on The Ultimate Fighter Brazil Season 4 and lost to the eventual winner, Glaico França. Since then, Motta is 5-2 with both losses to good fighters. Motta has a win over current UFC fighter Joe Solecki. Also, a win over Cesar Balmaceda who was on our list last year. From Brazil, he lives in the United States and is the current CFFC lightweight champion.

Christien Savoie

Welterweight | 27 | New Brunswick, Canada | 8-0 | Win Streak: 11 | 5 KO/TKOs

Christien Savoie has competed at both middleweight and welterweight. Elite 1 MMA is a promotion out of Canada and Savoie has won two titles for them at both of those weight classes. Last summer, Savoie was targeted for the Contender Series, which unfortunately didn’t pan out — in fact it hasn’t the past two seasons. This could be the year. Savoie is mainly a grinder who will push the pace in close quarters. He wants to take the fight to the mat where his ground and pound is excellent landing at a solid rate with good shots from a short amount of distance.

 Casey O’Neill

Strawweight | 22 | Queensland, Australia | 4-0 | Win Streak: 9 | 1 Submission

When it comes to young up-and-comers, Casey O’Neill is one of the best. From Scottland, O’Neill has fought her entire pro and amateur career in Australia. She’s the current Eternal MMA Strawweight Championship. She even moved up to 125 in her latest fight because it’s so hard for her to find strawweights willing to fight her. O’Neill also fights out of an excellent camp in Tiger Muay Thai.

Hailey Cowan

Flyweight | 27 | Waco, Texas, US | 5-1 | Win Streak: 5 | 2 KO TKOs, 1 Submission

Hailey Cowan has an extensive background in gymnastics and was very accomplished at Baylor University. She won a few tumbling national titles and is a two-time All-American. After coming up short in her pro-MMA debut, she then went on to win her next five fights looking impressive in the process. She’s a staple of top regional promotion LFA who always does a great job molding fighters.

Anthony Ivy

Welterweight | 29 | San Antonio, Texas, US | 8-2 | Win Streak: 4 | 5 KO TKOs, 3 Submission

Anthony Ivy is on a nice five-fight win streak currently and is the Fury FC and the WXC welterweight champion. Ivy has some good qualities on the feet with good clinch work and an explosive head kick. He’s primarily wrestler who chains his takedowns together well to go along with good timing, setups, and executions. In the grappling realm, he has perfect control showing superb ability to get dominant positions. His work ethic and cardio set him apart from other welterweight prospects.

John Gotti III

Welterweight | 27 | Oyster Bay, New York, US | 5-0 | Win Streak: 9 | 4 KO TKOs

John Gotti III is best known as the grandson of the infamous John Gotti, the Italian-American gangster known as the “Teflon Don.” John Gotti the third is going down a different path, pursuing a career in MMA, and has looked really good so far. He’s a knockout artist who recently went the distance for the first time. That’s a plus, for him to get that in early in his career. He has a style Dana White would want on the Contender Series.

Jose Johnson

Bantamweight | 24 | Copperas Cove, Texas, US | 11-5 | Win Streak: 5 | 7 KO TKOs, 1 Submission

Jose Johnson, being only 24, has an amazing amount of experience. Not only is he 11-5 as a pro but he has an extensive amateur career going 68-12. At a point in his pro career, Jose was 5-4 but since late 2018 he’s looked much improved. He’s the current Warrior Xtreme Cagefighting bantamweight champ and recently fought for the top UFC feeder league LFA. Johnson has looked stellar as of late. He is now on a five-fight win streak, all finishes in the first round.

Emillio Trevino

Light-heavyweight | 24 | Boise, Idaho, US | 5-0 | Win Streak: 6 | 2 KO TKOs, 1 Submission

Emilio Trevino is still a bit unknown due to only fighting pro for three years, and his lack of a busy schedule. Without much experience, he’s still fought for both LFA and Bellator MMA. Trevino fights out of a karate stance and is a fighter who fights behind his kicks. He actively switches stances and throws from different angles as well. He’s still green but has the toolset to go far.