Josh Parisian plans to earn his second Dana White Contender Series victory on Tuesday. This time he hopes to bring a contract.
A pair of fighters returning to the Contender Series kicked off the second week of Season 4 as Anthony Adams looked to rebound from his Season 2 loss, while Impa Kasanganay aimed for a second straight victory inside the UFC Apex in this week’s opener.
The diversity of Adams’ striking attack was on display in the opening round as the Muay Thai stylist fired off kicks to every level, slipped in clean punches and hunted for heavy knees up the middle while Kasanganay countered with a handful of heavy low kicks of his own and a collection of heavy hooks that never quite found a home.
Kasanganay came out with a greater sense of urgency to start the second, landing with low kicks and combinations in close while Adams looked to settle in. Though the 32-year-old Adams found some success with single shots and the knee he’d been hunting in the first, Kasanganay remained the aggressor, landing far more powerful shots throughout the middle stanza and punctuating the frame with a high impact double leg takedown in the center of the Octagon with 90 seconds remaining in the round, controlling Adams and landing knees to the body through to the horn.
Early in the third, Kasanganay connected up the middle with a front kick to the face, prompting Adams to try to chase down a takedown, only to have Kasanganay reverse position along the fence and secure a takedown himself. Once they hit the canvas, the unbeaten second-year fighter went to work, driving home right hands as Adams failed to navigate his way back up and got stuck in a defensive posture.
Though Adams got back to his feet, Kasanganay quickly put his back to the fence, connecting with an elbow before an errant knee brought the round to a halt momentarily. Adams took his full allotment of time, referee Mark Smith restarted them in a neutral position, but Kasanganay went right back on the offensive, closing the distance and putting Adams back on the canvas one more time before the final horn.
When the scores were tallied, the judges awarded Kasanganay his second straight unanimous decision victory on the Contender Series.
Official Result: Impa Kasanganay def. Anthony Adams by unanimous decision (29-27, 29-27, 29-27)
I hate the “Is this fight a must win?” question leading up to fights, mainly because with the stakes as high as they can get in the UFC, EVERY fight is a must win. But in the case of Chris Weidman, his bout with Omari Akhmedov was most certainly one the “All-American” needed to get, and in the second round, things weren’t looking good as Akmedov evened things up on the scorecards. But champions have that extra gear, that ability to pull ahead when necessary, and that’s just what the New Yorker did in the final frame, leaving no doubt that he was the winner. With that out of the way, Weidman has a fresh slate to make another title run.
FRANKIE EDGAR VS. GRAY MAYNARD
Fight 1: UFN 13 — Maynard via Unanimous Decision
Fight 2: UFC 125 — Draw
Fight 3: UFC 136 — Edgar via TKO (Punches)
This is the only series on this list where the first fight was nothing special and I don’t mean for that to sound dismissive.
It was a quality matchup between two undefeated lightweight competitors who were looking to take a major step forward in the division and it ended up serving as the co-main event of the evening, but while all the other non-title bouts that kicked off a trilogy on this list were barnburners or part of a PRIDE Grand Prix, this was a solid battle where timely takedowns from Maynard proved to be the difference.
What’s interesting is that after this bout, both rattled off three straight wins through to the end of 2009, but it was Edgar who ended up being tabbed to challenge for the lightweight title. Maynard kicked off 2010 with a unanimous decision win over Nate Diaz, but in April, Edgar fought BJ Penn in Abu Dhabi, unseating the Hawaiian from the lightweight throne. After they ran it back a few months later in Philadelphia with Edgar securing an even clearer decision victory to retain the title, a rematch with the unbeaten No. 1 contender was set for the first day of 2011.
The second fight in this trilogy remains one of the most entertaining and unbelievable fights in UFC history, as Maynard beat Edgar from pillar to post over the opening five minutes, pummeling him to the point where many still believe to this day that the bout should have been stopped, only to have Edgar survive and come out in the second like nothing happened. It was incredible then and remains a “how did he do that?” mystery all these years later.
Over the final three rounds, the only frame all three judges agreed on was the fourth, which Edgar won on all three cards, and when the totals were tallied, the bout ended in a rare five-round split draw — 47-47, 48-46 Edgar, 48-46 Maynard — meaning a third bout was required to resolve things.
The third bout finally came together at UFC 136 in Houston, and once again, Maynard got off to an exceptional start, cracking Edgar with a sharp, stinging uppercut midway through the round. Maynard got a little ahead of himself and Edgar was able to start clearing the cobwebs, but just when it seemed like he was in the clear, “The Bully” blasted him with a right hand that put the champion on the canvas, kicking off a 90-second sequence where the challenger busted Edgar up and tried to put him away.
Edgar’s face was a mess but he survived, and just as he had done in their New Year’s Day classic, the champion came out fresh in the second round, taking the fight to Maynard and getting himself back into the fight in the process. In the third, Edgar picked his spots and drew level, sending the third fight into the championship rounds dead even.
This time, they wouldn’t see the fifth frame.
Over the first two minutes of the round, Edgar started finding a home for some cleaner shots, connecting with a crisp right hand and a stiff uppercut that clearly hurt Maynard. The challenger responded with a clean right of his own, but Edgar was unbothered, touching Maynard with combinations and slowly starting to pull away.
Coming out of a scramble with a little more than a minute left, Edgar hit Maynard with a short right uppercut that sat the challenger down, and the champion swarmed. Two heavy right hands crashed home as Maynard backed into fence, the second one putting him on the canvas. A series of left hands followed, and referee Josh Rosenthal stepped in, bringing the fight — and the trilogy — to an end.
The final two fights in this series were absolutely amazing and you can’t help but feel for Maynard, who came as close to winning championship gold as you possibly could while still falling short, while Edgar made it crystal clear to anyone who remained unsure that he was the top lightweight in the world.
On Tuesday night, TJ Laramie will be in Las Vegas for the opportunity of a lifetime; a one fight chance to show Dana White that Canada’s TKO promotion may still have another trick up their sleeve.
Laramie takes the Octagon against one heck of a veteran of the sport in Daniel Swain, but with an 11-3 record with eight finishes, Laramie is as cool as he’s ever been. After all, an impressive finish is nothing new to him.
Take a look at how Laramie ranks his five fights on UFC FIGHT PASS!
5. Damien Peltier – TKO 36
“My opponent wasn’t that tough and I was just able to go in and get the quick finish.”
TJ Laramie vs Damien Peltier here: https://ufcfightpass.com/video/46212
4. Maxime Dubois – TKO 37
“I got to show my toughness in that fight. It was one of my tougher opponents, but at no point in the fight did I think I was going to lose.”
TJ Laramie vs Maxime Dubois here: https://ufcfightpass.com/video/49421
3. Charles Jourdain – TKO 41
“He’s in the UFC now and he came pretty hyped. I was still able to go in there and win every round pretty convincingly.”
TJ Laramie vs Charles Jourdain here: https://ufcfightpass.com/video/61303
2. Jimmy Spicuzza – TKO 39
“I was able to show the full range of my skill set. You could see my whole game in that fight.”
TJ Laramie vs Jimmy Spicuzza here: https://ufcfightpass.com/video/56581
1. T.J. Laramie vs Joao Luis Nogueira – TKO 42
“He was the highest level of opponent I fought and I was still able to get the finish in the fifth round.”
TJ Laramie vs Joao Luis Nogueira here: https://ufcfightpass.com/video/64225
For the most part, the list seems to get better as his career progresses. What’s in store for Laramie next? Find out on Tuesday, August 11 on Dana White’s Contender Series!
CHUCK LIDDELL VS. RANDY COUTURE
Fight 1: UFC 43 — Couture via TKO (Punches)
Fight 2: UFC 52 — Liddell via KO (Punches)
Fight 3: UFC 57 — Liddell via KO (Punches)
If the trilogies on this list had to be ranked in order, this one would certainly be in the running for the top spot. Not only did it feature two of the most iconic fighters in the UFC to that point, but it also ended up producing a “changing of the guard” in what the light heavyweight ranks, which was the prestige division in the UFC at the time.
Questions about Liddell’s focus after not getting the chance to face Tito Ortiz were being asked alongside those about Couture’s age and whether Father Time was finally catching up to the former heavyweight champion as these two squared off for the interim light heavyweight title at UFC 43.
This was another vintage Couture performance and his approach completely flummoxed Liddell, who seemed hesitant and unsure as Couture marched forward, leading the striking exchanges and getting the better of them. Just as he did with Belfort, Couture took away Liddell’s best weapons and made him expend energy defending takedowns, getting back to his feet, and moving backwards and as time continued to tick off the clock, Liddell’s gas tank ticked closer and closer to empty.
By the time the third round started, it was clear Couture was in complete control and by the middle of the frame, the fight was all but finished, with Couture putting Liddell on his heels and then on the canvas, advancing to mount, and unleashed a barrage of unanswered strikes that forced the stoppage.
The second fight happened a little shy of two years later, after Couture had beaten Ortiz and wrapped up his trilogy with Belfort. Liddell had come up short in his bid to win the PRIDE Middleweight Grand Prix, beaten Ortiz in their first meeting and added a win over Vernon “Tiger” White to affirm his standing as the No. 1 contender for the light heavyweight title, setting the stage for this rematch.
Liddell was a different fighter at this point, and it was obvious immediately. He was moving more right away, and he had the wide-eyed, “This dude looks a little crazy” stare we’d become used to in full effect right out of the gate. He’d become the dangerous counterpuncher and was ready for Couture’s advances, responded to his offerings in kind and circled into space whenever “The Natural” tried to hem him in.
An inadvertent eye poke paused the fight momentarily and Liddell connected immediately on the restart, stinging Couture with the kind of forcible shot that makes your instincts take over. When Couture tried to land one of his own and trade with Liddell, “The Iceman” floored him with a right hand amidst the chaotic trading of punches, following him to the canvas and quickly bringing the bout to a close.
Liddell was the new light heavyweight champion and a new era was about to begin in the UFC.
The rubber match would happen 10 months later at UFC 57, which was the biggest show in the company’s history to that point, and though it took a little longer, the outcome was ultimately the same. Couture looked to press forward and crowd the champion and Liddell was happy to fire off counters, circle out, and play the matador against the challenger.
Liddell hurt Couture late in the first, prompting “The Natural” to shoot for a takedown while opening him up above the left eye, and after a minute of circling each other to start the second, he cracked the advancing challenger with a counter right hand that spun him to the canvas in a heap. The fight was stopped and the series was over.
One of the brightest young stars on the UFC roster, O’Malley has used a pair of appearances in 2020 to show that his two years away from the Octagon following his breakout rookie campaign accelerated his ascent towards the top of the bantamweight division.
Back in March, the 25-year-old Montana native ended a 735-day stretch between fights with a blistering first-round stoppage win over Jose Quinonez at UFC 248, pushing his record to 11-0 in the process. It was a sharp reminder of the promise O’Malley showed as one of the breakout fighters from the first season of the Contender Series and once again made people eager to tune in to “The Sugar Show.”
Three months later at UFC 250, O’Malley registered the most impressive victory of his young career, felling veteran Eddie Wineland with a sniper shot of a right hand less than two minutes into their main card clash. Like his victory over Quinonez earlier in the year, O’Malley’s win over Wineland showcased his maturation as a fighter and the technical advancements he’s made since bursting onto the scene in the summer of 2017.
His quest for a third 2020 victory brings him to UFC 252 and a showdown with fellow emerging threat Marlon “Chito” Vera. The 27-year-old former TUF Latin America competitor has shown tremendous improvement and growth since joining Team Oyama but had his five-fight winning streak snapped last time out when he landed on the wrong side of a hotly debated split decision verdict in his bout against Song Yadong.
Just as Quinonez and Wineland were obvious hurdles O’Malley needed to clear to further his climb up the divisional ranks, so too is Vera, who would like nothing more than to get back into the win column by knocking off one of the mostly highly regarded prospects to arrive in the UFC over the last decade.
O’Malley feels like a special talent and has looked the part thus far in his career, especially of late. Although the bantamweight division has never boasted as much depth and talent as it does now, if “Sugar” continues laying out quality opponents with relative ease, it will become increasingly difficult to deny him an opportunity to climb the ranks and face some of the top names in the 135-pound ranks.
Kevin Holland capped off his whirlwind two-week UFC Vegas 5 and UFC Vegas 6 stint with a highlight reel knockout of Joaquin Buckley. It was the perfect ending for Holland, who stayed in Las Vegas an extra week to compete after his opponent, Trevin Giles, fainted moments before their bout on August 1, 2020.
Buckley came out aggressively, trying to earn a quick knockout in his short notice UFC debut. Holland stayed methodical and relied on an explosive right hand down the pipe to drop Buckley in the first round. Buckley was able to pop back up and recover quickly, extending the entertaining matchup to the second round.
The game plan didn’t change for either fighter in the second round, producing similar results until it was that same right hand that Holland used in the first round that finished Buckley in the opening moments of the third round.
Holland improved to 18-5 with the win, earning his second KO victory since May.
“That was Sean O’Malley type stuff right there,” Holland told UFC.com after the KO. “That was pretty cool.”
At the age of 19, Swain made his MMA debut. It was a short visit to the cage as he choked out his opponent in under two minutes. Just over two years later he was still a kid and making his first trip to Japan to fight for Pancrase. Following a decisive victory, he was 8-2 and had already retired fighters and defeated future UFC stars.
Six years after that, Swain is 20-9-1. Twelve submission wins, five knockouts, three decisions and a draw. Swain had seen everything but attention from the UFC.
In the recent years of his career, Swain was fighting for the love of the game. No UFC calls and the perfect record gone a long time ago, he was fueled by a lifelong passion for the sport and the support of his wife. It’s a support that Swain has always been quick to reciprocate.
“My wife taught at the poorest school in Spokane and we saw there was a need for foster parents,” Swain said. “We saw how many kids there were who just needed an adult to love them and show them they can do whatever they really want to do and give them a path to a better life so we started fostering.”
And for the last few years, his life has taken the best turn in the right direction he could have ever thought possible, thanks to the decision he and his wife made.
“My two older boys, we were their foster parents for two years, my youngest one we were the foster parents for a year and then we adopted them back in November,” Swain explained.
Knowing their dad’s profession comes with some careful handling. But as long as watching Swain’s fights are a shared experience, there are no issues.
“When I’m fighting, we don’t let them watch live,” Swain explained. “It wouldn’t be good to see their dad get knocked out. Afterwards, when we know the outcome we let them watch it.”
With the restriction on watching fights, it’s unlikely his kids will be able to watch him in the most important fight of his career to date. Odds are high that the thrill of wondering if he wins, does he get the contract, and everything else that comes with DWCS won’t be there for the family, but if he earns a shot in the UFC, the complaint of “it wasn’t a surprise” probably won’t come up.
In the meantime, the whole family is loving the ride. Swain’s decision to move the family from the town that hosted their traumatic past to a town of 2,500 people has led to what’s referred to as “small town fame.”
“I think they kind of understand. My middle son constantly says stuff like, ‘you’re famous now!’ I’m like, ‘no, not yet. We got some work to do before that happens,’” Swain laughed. “With the press of what’s going on, there’s been a lot of newspaper articles and stuff going on, so the boys have been thinking I’m pretty hot stuff right now.”
The hopes in the Swain house are understandably high. With the dangerous TJ Laramie waiting in the Octagon for him on August 11th it’s far from a guaranteed win. Swain is far from being as famous as his sons already accuse him of being but win, lose or draw, Swain will be the same man watching fights with his family every UFC card. The same parent running mitt work and “belly boxing” with his 12-year-old and the same fighter fighting the urge to tell everybody who overlooked him just how wrong they were.
“I want to show my kids that we’ve worked really hard to get here but just because it didn’t go our way and we didn’t get here the way we wanted doesn’t mean we have to go and act a fool in front of the boss,” Swain said.
Catch Daniel Swain in the DWCS Octagon Tuesday, August 11!
1. Chuck Liddell vs Randy Couture
The early 2000s surge in popularity benefitted no man in the UFC more than Chuck Liddell. He slugged his way into the heart of seemingly every MMA fan there was. And while he had a champion’s record of 12-1, he had never been given the chance to hold the UFC gold.
Fans were put in a position of wanting Chuck to win but not wanting Randy to lose when the two met for the 205 belt at UFC 43. The crowd went back and forth, chanting for both men, but Couture was able to avoid being intimidated by Liddell’s game, standing with him and scoring takedowns at will before the fight was finally waved off in the third.
Liddell patiently waited for his second shot at the champ and capitalized with 2005’s Knockout of the Year before sealing the trilogy bout with another knockout victory.
All three fights set up both fighters to validate their career. Sure, Chuck had Tito and Randy had Vitor, but when it came down to it, the biggest test for their skillset was each other.
Randy Couture vs Chuck Liddell here: https://ufcfightpass.com/video/28871
Chuck Liddell vs Randy Couture II here: https://ufcfightpass.com/video/28987
Chuck Liddell vs Randy Couture III here: https://ufcfightpass.com/video/28819
Cain Velasquez vs Junior Dos Santos
Dominick Cruz vs Urijah Faber
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