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.
Joseph Lowry (9-1 MMA)
Age: 30 years old
Weight Class: Lightweight (155lbs)
First DW’s Contender Series Fight: 2018 (Week 8)
Old DW’s Contender Series Opponent: Devonte Smith (10-2 MMA)
Second DW’s Contender Series Fight: 2020 (Week 9)
New Opponent: Nikolas Motta (11-3 MMA)
First DWCS Fight
Joseph Lowry appeared on Dana White’s Contender Series back in 2018 when he took on then 7-1 Devonte Smith.
Lowry opened up the fight looking very game against his opponent, and it was apparent the two were just looking to strike within the opening moments of the fight. Smith was able to effectively use his jab, which despite Lowry’s great head movement, was still able to find its target often and mark up Joe’s face quickly. Joe was able to use his jab as well and got off a couple of great low-body hook to high overhand combinations. The leg kicks from Smith to Lowry’s lead leg really threw off his timing and attacks.
Sensing this, Joseph flurried a combination of punches backing his opponent up before shooting in for a takedown against the cage. Smith was able to use the cage to defend the takedown, widening his base. While working for the takedown Lowry left himself open to vicious elbows to the side of the head, and Smith immediately took advantage of this opening.
Devonte Smith finished Joseph Lowry in the very first round of their fight, at 2:52, with elbows in order to get the stoppage victory.
Contender Series Opponent
Devonte Smith earned a UFC contract with his finish of Joseph Lowry and was able to make his debut in the UFC before the end of 2018. Interestingly enough, Devonte apparently had trouble with booking a debut fight and even insinuated that fighters were running from him. Well, Devonte did his first UFC opponent in, Julian Erosa, and finished him in under a minute of the first round with punches to not only get the win, but to turn the heads of UFC brass and fans with his violent performance.
Devonte had his sophomore fight in the UFC on the larger stage of the PPV card UFC 234, and once again, he didn’t disappoint. Smith finished his opponent Dong Hyun Ma with punches in the first round and this time even earned himself a performance of the night bonus for his efforts.
In Smith’s most recent fight, again on a huge PPV card at UFC 241, he lost to Khama Worthy by KO in the first round. This was the first step back of his UFC career, and Smith is now 2-1 with the promotion. With Devonte’s performance in the UFC’s lightweight division since being signed over two years ago it is apparent that he is UFC caliber and holds potential to do very well in the division.
The Road Back
Since appearing on DW’s Contender Series in 2018 Joseph Lowry has fought just one time. Lowry returned to fight with Cage Fury FC, where he had fought seven times before his bout on the Contender Series and where he had been Lightweight Champion in 2017.
Joseph Lowry fought 5-3-1 Piankhi Zimmerman at CFFC 83 in August of 2020 and finished him in 2:09 of the very first round. Lowry looked flawless and showed no signs of ring rust in his co main event win. Lowry’s hands and combinations looked better than ever and he showed good patience in taking his opponent out.
Joseph has actually had two fights cancelled with the CFFC promotion since he returned to fight under them.
Gameplan/ New Opponent
Joseph Lowry will be fighting the 11-3 Nikolas Motta on Week 9 of Dana White’s Contender Series 2020.
Motta is an eight-fight veteran of the Shooto Brasil fight promotion, has faced good competition throughout his entire professional career, and has only fought two men with losing records. Motta is a veteran of the The Ultimate Fighter Brazil: Season 4 and had a two-fight stint in the tournament/show back in 2015, advancing to the semifinals before losing. Nikolas is explosive. All eight of the finishes in Motta’s professional career have come by way of KO/TKO, and of those, seven have come in the first round.
Motta’s two most recent fights were actually in the CFFC promotion and like his opponent Joseph Lowry, he too is a CFFC lightweight champion. The current one, in fact.
For this fight, Lowry will surely be in a standup battle again. It will be important for him to utilize his great head movement in order to counter his opponent who has big KO power. All four of Motta’s losses have been by stoppage with two by KO/TKO and two by submission.
Lowry should look to utilize the high-low combinations that he does so well and stick to his stand up striking unless a really good opportunity to change levels for the takedown presents itself. Lowry has faced great competition in his pro career thus far and though his face marks/cuts easily, he has solid stand up, is in his physical prime, and has very low ‘fight mileage’.