Dana White’s Contender Series began back in 2017. Since then, the Contender Series has produced some big-name upcoming stars like Dan Ige, Sean O’Malley, Geoff Neal, Maycee Barber, and Edmen Shahbazyan.In short, it has been a huge success.
A Contender Series fight is one that has stakes like none other, where fighters must showcase their skills to impress the UFC president enough for a contract with the promotional giant. Holding the Contender Series with a smaller cage inside the UFC Apex venue makes for a tense atmosphere, and with only close friends and family of the competing fighters in attendance as spectators. Emotions always run high, as a limited amount of contracts can be given out on any given night, and many fighters can potentially have their dreams snubbed out solely because of bad luck.
In rare cases, however, a fighter gets a second look. This series will examine those.
Anthony “SugaFoot” Adams (8-1 MMA)
Age: 32 years old
Weight Class: Middleweight (185lbs)
First DW’s Contender Series Fight: July 17th, 2018 (Week 5)
Old DW’s Contender Series Opponent: Chibwikem Onyenegecha (7-0 MMA)
Second DW’s Contender Series Fight: August 11, 2020 (Week 2)
New DW’s Contender Series Opponent: Impa Kasanganay (6-0)
First DWCS Fight
Anthony Adams took his first contender series fight on just 5 days’ notice. Adams had fought a little over two weeks prior, capturing the middleweight belt in the Sparta Combat League. Though it is worth noting that Adams has fought at 170lbs multiple times in his professional career. Anthony looked very competent on the feet especially against an opponent that was as aggressive as Chibwikem Onyenegecha. Adams overall fought a very patient fight where he looked calm and composed the entire time. Adams is an orthodox fighter and utilized his rear kick to the body of his opponent seamlessly. Adams didn’t seem to “open up” until very close to the end of each round. The lone two takedown attempts in the fight, by Adams, were thwarted. Adams was able to stay focused and use his footwork to create movement as well as to using fantastic head movement to remain out of range but dangerous for the duration of the fight. Adams correctly lost a split decision that night.
Contender Series Opponent
Anthony’s first Contender Series opponent was Chibwikem Onyenegecha, who was, and still is, undefeated. Onyenaegecha wasn’t offered a contract by the UFC on the night he beat Adams. And the middleweight has not fought since that Contender Series fight back in 2018. The card that Onyenegecha and Adams fought on was the same card as Contender Series stars and eventual UFC standouts Maycee Barber and Edmen Shahbazyan.
The Road Back
Anthony Adams has had just one fight materialize since his last contender series fight two years ago. This was not from lack of trying though, as Adams has had bouts canceled with Adam Stroup, Jason Jackson, Kassius Kanye, and Gregory Rodrigues during this two-year time frame since his DWCS appearance. The one fight that did happen was with the LFA promotion against Josh Cavan. This fight was in January of 2019 a few months after the Contender Series fight. Adams was able to finish a 15-7 Cavan, 4:56 into the first round with punches.
Gameplan / New Opponent
Anthony’s opponent for his second chance on the Contender Series is Impa Kasanaganay. Impa is actually getting a second chance of his own as well. In Kasanaganay’s last appearance he looked a little inexperienced, especially on the ground. It could potentially be something that Anthony could exploit, but there is no guarantee, as Impa hasn’t had a fight since his Contender Series bout. Though Anthony has yet to get a finish in his professional career, he will likely have to produce one on Tuesday. Adams will be able to use his footwork, striking and ground game to likely try and push the pace of the fight a little more to give himself a chance at the UFC contract at the end of the night.