Scouting Prospects for the Contender Series Season 4: Part 3

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Dricus Du Plessis KSW
Dricus Du Plessis Credit: KSW

Dana White’s Contender Series will return for a fourth season this summer. The Tuesday night staple has proved popular with fans and has been a conduit into the UFC for fighters. Ahead of the show’s return, we’ve been looking at fighters who could appear this season. This time out, we’ve got fifteen fighters who have the potential to make the show — and potentially fight their way into the UFC.

Left out will be fighters that fought on the previous three seasons, though some may return.

If you missed them, check out parts one and two of our series.

Korey Kuppe

Welterweight | 31 | Macomb, Michigan, US | 8-3 | Win Streak: 2 | 1 KO/TKO, 7 Submissions

Korey Kuppe, although he still has a lot of growth left in his career, is a quality talent and his personality catches attention. He’s had a few setbacks but his last two wins are over J.P. Saint Louis and Kenny Cross who are both good fighters. Kuppe has a background in Karate being a 3x WKC world champ and a 4th-degree black belt in tang soo do. His tall build at 170 standing at 6’5″ will give a lot of guys problems, making him a very interesting prospect.

Ramiz Brahimaj

Welterweight | 27 | Dallas, Texas, US | 8-2 | Win Streak: 1 | 8 Submissions

Ramiz Brahimaj was supposed to fight last year on Dana White’s Contender Series but an injury forced him out. He’s had some fights he lost where he should’ve won but is back in the win column. Don’t forget Brahimaj trains out of Fortis MMA which is an outstanding team. He’s a former IBJJF NoGi world champion and someone I think will be in the UFC with or without the Contender Series.

Elijah Johns

Lightweight | 23 | Dallas, Texas, US | 6-1 | Win Streak: 4 | 3 KO/TKOs

Elijah Johns is the younger brother of Contender Series contract winner and now UFC fighter Miles Johns. Like Brahimaj above, Johns is also a product out of Fortis MMA. His sole loss is from being on the wrong end of a split decision. The level of competition he’s fought hasn’t been great but has looked to be a cut above. Johns is still young so it wouldn’t hurt if he skipped this year and came on next year but he should be looked at no doubt.

 Christopher Daukaus

Heavyweight | 30 | Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, US | 8-3 | Win Streak: 1 | 7 KO/TKOs

Christopher Daukaus’ last name by be familiar to the Contender Series audience and that’s because his little brother Kyle was on the last season. Christopher was on the verge on a UFC shot, many would think, before he lost to former UFC fighter Azunna Anyanwu. Prior to that loss, Daukaus was on a 5-fight win streak. He’s back on the board with a win getting his fifth first-round stoppage.

Santos Curatolo

Flyweight | 24 | Staten Island, New York, US | 4-0 | Win Streak: 6 | 3 KO/TKOs , 1 Submission

Santos Curatolo’s competition hasn’t been too good and his strength of schedule needs work. But that said Curatolo has still looked stellar thus far and has treated his lack of competition the way he should’ve. Curatolo is an excellent wrestler rag-dolling guys around. He’s a pure athlete who I think can jump into the UFC and do well.

Carlos Ulberg

Light-heavyweight | 29 | Auckland, New Zealand | 2-0 | Win Streak: 2 | 1 KO/TKO

Carlos Ulberg is a product out of City Kickboxing with the likes Brad Riddell, Shane Young, Kai Kara-France, and UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya. Ulberg isn’t only a fighter but also an actor and a model. Known for his background in kickboxing Ulberg is a two-time King of the Ring tournament winner, the same tournament Adesanya won three times. He may have the least experience in all these fighters but I would love to see him get a chance.

Chelsea Hackett

Flyweight | 21 | Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia | 3-0-1 | Win Streak: 3 | 1 KO/TKO

Chelsea Hackett comes from a Muay Thai background as she’s a two-time world Muay Thai champion and a former WBC Muay Thai Champion. In her MMA career, the girls so far have tried mainly to put her on her back. However, Hackett has shown good takedown defense and is the one getting takedowns herself. She is much better on the feet, notably in the clinch, with good kickboxing, and combos from the outside. A fight with Casey O’Neill would be awesome even if they do fight at different weight classes.

James Gonzalez

Featherweight | 29 | East Patchogue, New York, US | 6-3 | Win Streak: 2 | 1 KO/TKO, 3 Submissions

Gonzalez may have a 6-3 record but his losses are to Bill Algero and Mike Trizano twice so no shame in that. In his last fight, he fought a top prospect in Pat Sabatini. He was expected to lose but got it done with a nasty armlock finish in under a minute. Gonzalez is the current CFFC featherweight champion. He’s still growing and at least in the grappling department, being a BJJ black belt, he’s a threat to anyone.

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