And so it has come down to this: one final episode of Dana White’s Contender Series, and then it’s a year-long wait for what has grown into a Tuesday night tradition.
The Contender Series is MMA in a perfect format: no six-to-seven hour long cards, no staying up until the wee hours of the morning for those on the east coast. Just five, sometimes six fights, with fighters pulling out all the stops thanks to what is on the line.
For the final installment of 2021, the Contender Series boasted more Chinese talent trying to break into the UFC, a pair of undefeated Canadian prospects in a year that had seen three fellow Canucks make it to the big show, and a Hawaiian talent getting a second look. The latter would be Canaan Kawaihae, who came up short in his first appearance back in 2018.
The Canadian contingent, meanwhile, was made up of Achilles Estremadura, a BFL mainstay, and Yohan Lainesse, a former TKO fighter and current CFFC welterweight champ.
Dana White’s Contender Series Season 5, Week 10 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.
Opening up the card at flyweight, China’s Zhifa Shang and Atlanta’s Juan Puerta went the distance. Puerta scored an early takedown, and spent plenty of time in control. Shang appeared to chase the finish in the third, likely knowing he was down on the scorecards, but he couldn’t find it. Puerta took the split decision win.
In a featherweight fight that Canaan Kawaihae was arguably winning, Jonas Bilharinho stole the show. Late in the third round, with one minute remaining, Bilharinho landed a spinning heel kick that knocked Kawaihae senseless. A highlight reel moment that will last for years to come.
It was back to flyweight for Lun Qiu vs. Erisson Ferreira, with China’s Qiu getting off to a solid start. What played out was a very competitive back-and-forth fight in which both men had their moments. Ferreira was right there late in the third, nearly sinking in a guillotine, then a rear-naked choke. But Lun showed decent defensive grappling and made it back to his feet. The fight went to Ferreira in the end, which China being 0-2 on the night.
After a fun grappling exchange on the ground early in the evening’s second-to-last bout, Yohan Lainesse set up the finish with a cracking short left. Justin Burlinson’s head hit the canvas, one follow-up punch hit home for Lainesse, and that was a wrap!
The final fight of the fifth season of DWCS was a wild one. Achilles Estremadura came out guns blazing, hurting China’s Maheshate. In fact the Canadian rocked him more than once. But Maheshate turned things up in the second and third, hurting Achilles with a flying knee and beginning to really flow with his attacks. In the end, he’d win the unanimous decision. He also became the first Chinese fighter to win on the Contender Series.
Dana White’s Contender Series Season 5, Week 10 Results
Lightweight: Maheshate def. Achilles Estremadura by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Welterweight: Yohan Lainesse def. Justin Burlinson by TKO, Round 1, 1:37
Flyweight: Erisson Ferreira da Silva def. Lun Qiu by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Featherweight: Jonas Bilharinho def. Canaan Kawaihae by TKO, Round 3, 4:00
Flyweight: Juan Puerta def. Zhifa Shang by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
Contract Winners: Yohan Lainesse, Maheshate