Last year, the UFC announced the introduction of Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series, airing live on the UFC’s digital platform UFC Fight Pass.
The premise is relatively simple; five fights per episode, if a fighter impresses they can potentially earn a UFC contract. A win alone would not necessarily guarantee you that contract, so edging out a dull decision victory is far less valuable than an all-action, fan-friendly affair.
As the show is streamed online, there are no drawn-out commercial breaks, resulting in a much faster-paced event. Praise for the show has been so widespread, from fans and media alike, that Dana White had to quash speculation that the show would replace the UFC’s long-airing reality series The Ultimate Fighter.
For those who don’t earn a contract directly on the show, there are other ways it provides avenues to the UFC. We’ve seen fighters go from DWTNCS to The Ultimate Fighter (Kyler Phillips and Josh Parisian), we’ve seen them handed developmental deals (Bevon Lewis, Chase Hooper and Greg Hardy), as well as a handful of opportunities as late-notice replacements when a UFC fight falls through (Zu Anyawu, Dan Ige, Julio Arce, Mike Santiago and Kevin Holland).
It’s also given punditry and commentating experience to the likes of Brendan Fitzgerald and Paul Felder (who have, as a result of their work on DWTNCS, now commentated on UFC shows), Laura Sanko, Dan Hellie, Yves Edwards, Michael Bisping, Urijah Faber and… Snoop Dogg.
As we have a slight lull in UFC action for a couple of weeks, I thought I’d take a look at how DWTNCS alumni have fared in UFC competition thus far.
The table below (full table, including DWTNCS results, can be viewed here) shows the results of every fighter who has competed in the UFC after featuring on DWTNCS.
Collaboratively, the fighters have won 45% of their UFC bouts, with 18 wins to 22 losses. Of those 18 wins, 9 came via stoppage, whilst 8 of their 22 losses came via stoppage. A total of 6 Fight Night bonuses ($50,000) have been shared amongst former DWTNCS fighters.
Considering almost all of these fighters were relative unknowns competing on their regional scenes before arriving in the UFC, I think a win rate of 45% should be considered a success for the show.
Statistically, the most successful DWTNCS fighter is Alex Perez, who is now 3-0 in UFC competition with wins over Carls John de Tomas, Eric Shelton and Jose Torres. However, it’s ‘Suga’ Sean O’Malley (2-0 UFC competition thus far), not Perez, who is regarded as the brightest prospect to come from the show.
Whilst fighters like Julio Arce and Ricky Simon have also put together a 2-0 record in UFC competition, it’s O’Malley who has already displayed the charisma, the fighting style and the look to become a real star in the sport.
The most successful episode so far has been Season 1, Episode 5, with fighters on that episode posting a combined UFC record of 7-1.
The unwanted title for the least-successful DWTNCS fighter goes to Mike Santiago, 0-3 in UFC competition with 2 stoppage losses, though he was thrown in at the deep end (to say the least) in his late-notice debut against Zabit Magomedsharipov.
At the time of writing, four DWTNCS alumni (Charles Byrd, Geoff Neal, Ryan Spann and Maycee Barber) have UFC fights booked and a win each would bump the communal DWTNCS UFC record up to .500.
As far as I’m concerned, the show has been a resounding success across multiple fronts- long may it continue.