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.
Maria “Viuva Negra” Silva (8-0 MMA)
Age: 26 years old
Height: 5’3″ / Reach: 65”
Weight Class: Strawweight (115lbs.)
First DW’s Contender Series Fight: 2021, Week 7
Old DW’s Contender Series Opponent: Kathryn Paprocki (3-2 MMA)
Second DW’s Contender Series Fight: 2022, Week 6
New Opponent: Viktoriya Dudakova (5-0 MMA)
First DWCS Fight
Maria Silva put on a very impressive and dominating performance in her first appearance on the Contender Series last October.
Throughout the fight Silva peppered her opponent with extremely effective kicks and really showed off her polished kickboxing.
When the fight went to the ground she was also able to threaten her opponent with multiple solid submission attempts.
Maria looked like a very complete fighter and pressed the pace.
Although it was evident that Maria was looking for the finish for the duration of the bout, she wasn’t able to pull it off, as her opponent never gave up on the fight.
First Contender Series Opponent
Maria Silva’s first Contender Series opponent was then 3-2, Kathryn Paprocki. Though Maria dominated the fight she wasn’t able to get a finish and that definitely factored into her not being able to receive a contract.
Kathryn is a one fight veteran of both the Invicta FC and LFA promotions.
Paprocki is an extremely tough fighter with a pro muay thai fight and a pair of pro boxing fights under her belt.
However, entering the Contender Series bout, Paprocki had not yet faced pro high level MMA competition.
Following the Contender Series bout, Kathryn got a spot on The Ultimate Fighter Season 30, as a flyweight.
Although Kathryn Paprocki might not have been the highest level of competition for Maria Silva’s first Contender Series fight, she definitely was/and still is a very tough fight for anyone, so it’s a win that has not aged poorly.
The Road Back
Maria Silva has competed in just one professional MMA fight since her Contender Series appearance in October of 2021.
Silva took on then 6-0 undefeated prospect, Ewelina Wozniak, at Ares FC 4 back in March.
Maria and Wozniak were the co-main event on the card, and Silva was able to get the finish in the third round via rear naked choke.
It was an impressive win for Silva against a very talented up and coming fighter in Wozniak.
Silva also had another bout scheduled for late June against then 8-1, Anastasia Feofanova, but the bout was cancelled.
Dudakova is a 23 year old, 5-0, pro MMA fighter that also had a 6-0 ameatur MMA record.
Viktoriya competed in the International Mixed Martial Arts Federation (IMMAF) where she narrowly missed competing for the tournament’s 125lb gold medal. (Dudakova missed weight and was forced to withdrawal)
However, Dudakova is still a 2019 European Championship gold winner and ended up finishing with bronze in the IMMAF World Championships for 2019 as well.
Needless to say, this time around, Silva is going to have a very tough fight on her hands especially in the submission grappling department.
Viktoriya has finished every fighter that she has faced in pro MMA competition with four coming via submission and one via doctor stoppage.
It looks like Dudakova’s favorite submission is the rear naked choke as three of her four submission finishes utilized the technique.
This is sure to be a good fight at Maria Silva looks to get Contender Series Redemption fighters back on the right track. Redemption fighters are 4-1 this season and four out of five of them have received a contract.