The latest episode of Dana White’s Contender Series went down Tuesday night, and offered a shot at redemption for one fighter who had previously appeared on the show.
That was Canadian middleweight Aaron Jeffery, who had come up short against Brendan Allen on the show back in 2019. With a bit of distance from that loss, it didn’t look so bad: Allen had gone on to have a solid career with the promotion thus far.
And so, with four more wins under his belt, and a Cage Fury FC title, Jeffery was getting another look, against Caio Borralho.
The biggest news ahead of Tuesday’s five-fight card wasn’t Jeffery’s return, or the interesting light heavyweight showdown atop the bill. Rather, it was Manuel Gaxhja missing weight by a whopping 4.5lbs for his fight with Chris Duncan. While fighters missing weight have never been explicitly ruled out of winning a UFC contract on the show, Gaxhja was likely going to have to do something magical to get his foot in the door.
Dana White’s Contender Series Season 5, Week 5 kicks off at 8PM ET, airing live on ESPN+ in the United States, and on UFC Fight Pass elsewhere. Full results from the card, at the UFC Apex, can be found below.
And then there were four: after Manuel Gaxhja missed weight, his fight with Chris Duncan wound up removed from the card earlier today. Gaxhja was reportedly experiencing to medical issues.
I did everything I possibly could and I will do anything I physically can to get my shot @danawhite @seanshelby
— Chris duncan (@theproblem155) September 28, 2021
Kuniev vs. Santos kicked off Week 5 at heavyweight, and early on, Santos clipped his opponent twice. Kuniev didn’t seem overly rocked and tied up with Santos, eventually pushing him into the fence, until the Russian landed a low blow. Moments later, Santos would commit his own foul, an eye poke. Kuniev ate a nasty uppercut in the clinch near the end of the round, but things would settle down until the third. At his corner’s urging, Kuniev took the fight down and unleashed ground n’ pound for the TKO a minute in.
Lucas Almeida rocked Daniel Zellhuber early and often in the evening’s lightweight fight. The first half of round one was all Almeida, all the time. But Zellhuber weathered the storm and both men were connecting by the end of the frame. Early in the second Zellhuber landed a key takedown with a hip toss. Almeida escaped up to his feet shortly after, which led to more back-and-forth exchanges. Zellhuber took over as the fight wore on, and after three rounds, he took the unanimous decision win.
In Aaron Jeffery’s return to the Contender Series, both he and Caio Borralho had their moments in the opening round. Borralho’s karate style proved elusive, and he appeared to have the strength advantage, plus strong takedown defense. In the second, Borralho landed a takedown early, showing just how well-rounded he was. By the third, Jeffery was clearly in need of a finish. At the end of the round, he went after it, throwing multiple elbows from the clinch, but it wasn’t enough.
In the featured fight, Igor Poterya got his hands going early, rocking his opponent at least once. That foreshadowed the finish later in the round, with Poterya putting Lukasz Sudolski down with some heavy shots, then clubbing him with ground n’ pound.
Dana White’s Contender Series Season 5, Week 5 Results
Light Heavyweight: Igor Poterya def. Łukasz Sudolski by TKO, Round 1, 3:41
Catchweight (160.5 lbs): Chris Duncan vs. Manuel Gaxhja
Middleweight: Caio Borralho def. Aaron Jeffery by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
Lightweight: Daniel Zellhuber def. Lucas Almeida by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Heavyweight: Rizvan Kuniev def. Edivan Santos by TKO, Round 3, 1:00
Contract Winners: Daniel Zellhuber, Igor Poterya