Redemption: Second Chances on Dana White’s Contender Series — Jose Johnson

Jose Johnson, Dana White's Contender Series 50
Jose Johnson, Dana White's Contender Series 50 Credit: Alex Behunin/Cageside Press

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.

Jose “Lobo Solitario” Johnson (14-7 MMA)

Age: 27 years old

Height: 6’0″ / Reach: 74”

Weight Class: Bantamweight (135lbs.)

First DW’s Contender Series Fight: 2020, Week 5

Old DW’s Contender Series Opponent: Ronnie Lawrence (8-2 MMA)

Second DW’s Contender Series Fight: 2022, Week 4

New Opponent: Jack Cartwright (10-0 MMA)

First DWCS Fight

In Jose’s first appearance on the Contender Series, he was defeated via unanimous decision. It was a competitive fight but Jose’s opponent just landed more than him in every department, but mainly, completely out-wrestled him. Securing 12 out of 17 takedowns and over 10 minutes of control on the ground. 

First Contender Series Opponent

Ronnie Lawrence, who entered the fight with a 5-1 record, received a UFC contract as a result of his victory. 

Lawrence has since competed in three bouts (2-1) in the UFC with one fight, against Trevin Jones, scrapped as a result of a bad weight cut.

Ronnie’s UFC debut was against then 7-3 Vince Cachero in Febuary of 2021. Lawrence got a win in the third round via ground and pound. 

Next, Lawrence fought then 9-2 Mana Martinez a couple weeks shy of a year later. Ronnie fought to a unanimous decision victory on the preliminary card of UFC 271. 

And last month, Lawrence took his first loss in the UFC via a unanimous decision to now 10-2, rising prospect, Saidyokub Kakhramonov.

Lawrence has been active and though he lost a big fight against Kakhramonov, he has produced a finish and fought on the undercard of a PPV. Definitely a loss that has not aged too badly for Jose Johnson (despite different results against a common opponent in Mana Martinez)

The Road Back

In the two years since Jose’s loss on the Contender Seires he has been extremely active in the cage competing in four bouts with one cancellation. 

A couple of months after his Contender Series appearance, Jose had a fight cancelled with then 6-2 Tyler Wilson for Strikehard Productions 57.

In April of 2021, Jose won a unanimous decision against then 7-3 Dre Miley at Valor Fighting Challenge 80.

In May of 2021, at Fury FC 46: Lookin’ For a Fight, Jose Johnson challenged Mana Martinez (then 7-2) for the FFC Bantamweight Championship. It was a huge fight for both fighters as it was a part of UFC president Dana White’s other prospect series: Dana White: Lookin’ For a Fight (Return to Houston Episode)

Unfortunately for Johnson, he was KO’d in just 32 seconds by Martinez. 

Fast forward six months and Johnson again made an appearance on DW: LFAF (Denver Episode), this time aginst a 6-0, Mo Miller. But this time around, Jose Johnson was on the right side of the finish, submitting his opponent with a triangle choke in the second round. 

And finally, in his most recent fight, Jose took on Dulani Perry (then 4-1) and finished him in just 12 seconds at Fury FC  57 back in Febuary. 

Thanks to Jose’s kill or be killed attitude and willingness to put it all on the line every fight, he finds himself with a shot at redemption. 

Gameplan/New Opponent 

For Jose Johnson’s second chance on the Contender Series he will be taking on the undefeated 10-0 Jack Cartwright

Cartwright has eight finishes in his career with five via submissions. Jack also was 4-0 as an amateur in MMA. 

Cartwright is a veteran of the Cage Warriors promotion where he won the Bantamweight Championship in 2019 and has since successfully defended his belt three times. 

Jose will look to make the most out of his second chance on the Contender Series by defending the takedown (he’s been working on his wrestling and put on some muscle) and pushing the pace of the fight on the feet just like he always does. This is sure to be a classic striker vs grappler matchup.