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 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.
Jamal “The Stormtrooper” Pogues (8-3 MMA)
Age: 26 years old
Height: 6’3″/ Reach: 77″
Weight Class: Light Heavyweight (205lbs.)
First DW’s Contender Series Fight: 2019, Week 9
Old DW’s Contender Series Opponent: Marcos Brigagao (14-5 MMA)
Second DW’s Contender Series Fight: 2022, Week 3
New Opponent: Paulo Renato Jr. (10-1 MMA)
First DWCS Fight
Jamal Pouges and his opponent, Marcos Brigagao, began the co-main event in Week 9 in 2019 by swinging on the feet before Pouges was able to nicely time a few different takedowns on his opponent, taking the fight to the ground. However, Pouges was threatened with submissions several times while on the ground. These threats often resulted in a scramble and the fighters returning to their feet.
In the second round both fighters again came out swinging, with Pouges seeming to get the better of the exchanges before scoring another well-timed takedown. Once Brigagao eventually worked back up to his feet, Pouges was again able to get the better of the exchanges and land some strong strikes.
In the final round, Pouges was again able to put his opponent on the ground. And though Jamal became visibly slower with his ground and pound, he was ultimately able to hold down and dominate his opponent for the easy decision win (30-27 x3).
Even though Jamal Pogues got the unanimous decision win, at the end of the night, Dana White elected not to award him with a contract (likely because he didn’t get the finish).
Instead, Phillip Rowe received a contract for his third round stoppage over his opponent in the main event for the night. Steve Garcia and Mallory Martin, two other winners from Week 9 in 2019, would go on to get a fight in the UFC after just one more fight outside of the promotion.
First Contender Series Opponent
In Jamal’s first appearance on the Contender Series he took on Marcos Brigagao who entered the bout with a perfect 11-0 record. Prior to the bout, Brigagao had finished all 11 of his previous opponents.
But Brigagao had faced mostly lackluster competition early on in his career with the combined record of his opponents being 26-17, heading into Week 9 of DWCS 2019.
After the Contender Series fight, Brigagao has won three of his last seven fights and is on a three-fight losing skid. Obviously, Brigagao has stepped up his level of competition with his combined opponents record after facing Jamal being 66-22.
With those facts in mind, Jamal’s dominant 30-27 UD performance has aged very well. Though it is worth noting that Marcos has been finished three times since facing Jamal in 2019.
The Road Back
Since Jamal’s appearance on DWCS in 2019 he has had a total of three scheduled bouts and has competed in two (with one cancellation).
Jamal first had a scheduled bout against then 3-0 Heath Jolley, before that fight was cancelled prior to the event.
Jamal Pogues fought then 5-0, Alex Polizzi, for the LFA vacant Light Heavyweight Championship in Febuary of 2020. However, Pouges would come up short, when he was submitted by heel hook in the fourth round. A solid all around showing for Jamal and good experience going past three rounds.
Pouges next took on Tim Hiley, who entered the bout with a 7-2 record. Jamal was able to pick up a unanimous decision win that night at LFA 91.
Gameplan/ New Opponent
For Jamal’s second appearance on the Contender Series he will fight 10-1, Paulo Renato Jr.
Paulo Renato Jr. enters the fight with a 10-1 record with his former opponents combined record being 34-43.
Paulo has finished seven of his opponents by KO/TKO including three in the first round. And its obvious, that still while largely unproven in pro MMA competition, Paulo definitely has some nice kickboxing skills.
Jamal will be the Co-Main event for Week 3 of the 2022 season of the Contender Series in what has been a wild season so far. With wrestling phenom Bo Nickal headlining the card, there will undoubtedly be an increased number of eyes on Jamal Pouges as he looks for redemption and a statement finish against Paulo Renato Jr.