The Dana White Contender Series is back on August 18 to offer us a night of competitive matchups that are sure to entertain.
Our prediction record is at 3-1, so let’s see if we can get a clean sweep on week 2.
Joseph Pyfer v. Dustin Stoltzfus
Adrian Yanez v. Brady Huang
Vanessa Demopolous v. Cory McKenna
T.J. Laramie v. Daniel Swain
Anthony Adams v. Impa Kasangany
Let’s take a peep at the violence in store for Tuesday night.
Middleweight: Joseph Pyfer v. Dustin Stoltzfus
Joseph Pyfer (7-1-0) fights out of Pennsylvania and all but one of his professional wins have ended via KO or submission.
Pyfer is a solid wrestler and uses takedowns off the cage to punish opponents with ground and pound. He has some really great sweeps and throws to get fights to the canvas.
Not to say he is one-dimensional though.
Pyfer’s striking game is well developed for his body-type. He likes to strike from the outside, utilizing head movement to avoid damage coming back the other way. I would not categorize Pyfer as a counter-striker though.
He is more than willing to take the lead if his opponent is idle.
Dustin Stoltzfus (12-1-0) is an American fighter, but fights out of Germany.
Coming off a submission win via twister at GMC 23, Stoltzfus touts a slick grappling game. His takedowns rely on timing more than power, but once on top, Stoltzfus is methodical in looking for a finish. Position before submission seems to be a mantra of his.
Stoltzfus’ has a balanced, solid kickboxing game. His weapons of note are his leg kicks, front kicks, left hook, and right straight.
He is somewhat slow, but makes up for it with accuracy.
Stoltzfus is not much of a pressure fighter, but he does know how to turn up the heat if he feels a finish is near.
Prediction: Pyfer. In terms of skill, these two athletes are evenly matched. Their striking games are good and their wrestling games are good.
The only area where I see an edge is Stoltzfus’ grappling and submission skills. The main problem for Stoltzfus is that I don’t see his offensive wrestling being enough to get Pyfer to the mat.
Stoltzfus’ striking, as already stated, is textbook, but I think Pyfer will be able to use his speed and range to nullify that.
Bantamweight: Adrian Yanez v. Brady Huang
Adrian Yanez (10-3-0) is a bantamweight prospect out of Texas. He is with the Metro Fight Club. He’s a slick, boxing-centric striker with some decent defensive-wrestling and counter-submissions.
Yanez utilizes oblique kicks, front kicks, and accurate punch combinations from orthodox or southpaw.
His lead hook to the body was used to great effect in his bout against Warren Stuwart at Fury 29. He further proved the effectiveness of his striking at Fury 33, linking his lead body-hook to overhand right en route to the finish. Yanez brilliantly switches stances mid-combination.
In his main-event slot at LFA 78, Yanez showed a the ability to control the center of the cage. He also ate some really solid strikes and managed to keep his composure.
I’m most impressed by Yanez’ ability to cut off the cage and maintain his pace over 15 minutes.
Brady Huang (11-1-0) is a Dragon House MMA product out of San Francisco, California. His base martial art is wrestling, but he doesn’t often go for takedowns.
In terms of striking, Huang has a mix of weapons, but his jab-cross and thumping right leg kick stand out. His strikes are powerful, but he remains a bit stiff.
His decision win against Hidekazu Fukushima showed the will to dig deep and push hard through fatigue. In this fight, Huang was able to stuff a good amount of takedowns and get off of his back.
One knock against Huang, and it’s a significant one, is his strength of schedule. While he’s finished all of his wins except for his most recent at Pancrase 312, the combined record of all of his opponents is 48-60-1. For comparison, Yanez’ competition has a combined record of 69-56-0.
Prediction: Yanez. I think Huang is in for a rough Tuesday against Yanez. If we look to Huang’s fight against current UFC athlete Martin Day, Day was able to outstrike Huang and stuff his takedowns. This lead to a lead body-hook that allowed Day to take home a TKO victory.
The striking of Yanez is enough to give anyone on the prospect level problems, but this will be the toughest test for Huang by far.
Combine Yanez’ counter-grappling with his striking ability, I think he might get the finish. If not, Yanez has shown the ability to stay consistent through a tough three rounds.
Strawweight: Vanessa Demopolous v. Cory McKenna
Vanessa Demopolous (4-1-0) is a Los Angeles fighter under the Black House MMA banner. She is also the LFA Strawweight champion.
She is an energetic fighter, constantly moving and feinting on her way to the inside. Demopolous ultimately looks to grapple, but she is strong and durable if she’s unable to get the takedown.
She even used guard pulls to great effect at LFA 81 in her bout against Loveth Young, allowing her to get to dominant positions. Once there, her elbows from mount were brutal.
Demopolous showed that she can come back against Sam Hughes at LFA 85. Hughes battered Demopolous for almost four straight rounds, almost finishing her in the third. Demopolous stayed in it, and pulled out an inverted triangle submission win in round four.
Really impressive stuff.
Cory McKenna (4-1-0) fights out of Wales and is affiliated with Team Alpha Male. She has been a Cage Warriors mainstay since her debut.
McKenna touts an agressive wrestling game paired with some relentless ground and pound. She is willing to throw herself into takedown attempts, but that sometimes leads her into trouble.
Her last bout at Cage Warriors 105, as short as it was, showcased some great scrambling and top control.
Equally aggressive on the feet, McKenna moves forward with long punches, her cross being her most effective strike.
Prediction: Demopolous. Both women are very talented, and have cut their teeth in two of the most premier regional promotions.
I think the difference will be Demopolous’ strength in the grappling exchanges. Not that McKenna isn’t strong, but she is young and not as athletic as Demopolous.
The striking exchanges should be a bit more even, but the in-and-out movement of Demopolous will be difficult for McKenna to deal with.
I don’t see a blowout here, but I think Demopolous should have the edge in the areas that McKenna typically wins in.
Featherweight: T.J. Laramie v. Daniel Swain
T.J. Laramie (11-3-0) fights out of the Maximum Training Centre in Windsor, Ontario. He is a wrestler through and through. Although he has solid ability on the feet, stuffing his opponent into the cage is his strategy of choice.
At PFC11, Laramie was able to control his opponent against the fence and maintain top position, dropping strategic ground and pound.
When he’s in control, methodical would be the apt descriptor for Laramie’s game.
Heavy hips, positional awareness, and grind would be additional descriptors.
He’s short for the division, but Laramie does really well forcing himself to the inside for grappling exchanges against the fence. He uses this same movement to set up strike combinations and kicks.
If we look to Laramie’s latest fight against Andrew Cruz, he is more than willing to stand and trade if he needs to. Laramie showed how well rounded he can be.
Laramie’s top control is truly stifling and anyone underneath him will find difficulty getting back to their feet.
Daniel Swain (20-9-1) is a Warrior Camp MMA fighter out of Spokane, Washington. His last four wins have come inside the first round due to a series of submissions.
In addition to his grappling skills, Swain’s biggest edge in this fight will be his experience. He has more than double the fights of Laramie. That experience is huge.
Swain leaps in and uses lunging left hooks to open up his combinations. While he’s willing to engage on the feet, that’s not where Swain gets it done.
As mentioned earlier, Swain is at his best when the fight goes horizontal. He does well to snap up submission holds when they present themselves, and he typically finishes them.
Prediction: Laramie. Swain has the experience and is for sure dangerous in the grappling. The problem for him is how strong Laramie is in top position on the ground.
Laramie imposes his will, and consistently grinds, which doesn’t allow his opponents many opportunities to attempt submissions.
On the feet, Laramie is explosive and uses good movement to find his targets. Even if his is taken down, he is good in a scramble and is able to find a way on top or back to his feet.
These factors will prove troublesome for Swain.
Middleweight: Anthony Adams v. Impa Kasangany
Anthony Adams (8-1-0), out of Elevation Fight Team, is one of two returning fighters to the Contender Series. He fought on season two and lost a split-decision against Chibwikem Onyenegecha.
Going by the nickname “Sugafoot”, Adams is a muay thai stylist that takes a stick a move approach. Outside of his latest win, a win via first round TKO, Adams has been a decision machine.
When Adams does commit to striking, his combinations come out fluidly and in quick succession.
The defining characteristic of Adams’ game is elusiveness. He’s hard to hit, and hard to stop from moving. His defensive arsenal also involves good leg kick defense and counter-wrestling.
Impa Kasanganay (6-0-0) is the other fighter returning to DWCS. He fought last season, and that is still his most recent bout heading into Tuesday.
Up to that fight, Kasanganay had only been training 18 months, and all of his professional fights took place in 2019. That’s crazy and crazy impressive.
In his last fight on DWCS, he looked composed and way more developed that his experience (or lack thereof) would lead you to believe.
In that fight we saw accurate striking and good wrestling that allowed him to take home a dominant decision.
Prediction: Kasangany. I’ve written and rewritten this prediction, alternating competitors. That said, a deadline’s a deadline, and I’ve just got to go with my gut.
Kasangany has had another year of development, and while he hasn’t been actively competing, He’s had multiple fights booked, but cancelled. That means Kasangany has been training for competition.
As well-rounded as he looked in his last bout, I think Kasangany will be able to overcome the elusive striking of Adams.
I don’t usually pick the method of victory, but I’d wager that this one goes to decision.
And that’s it! Another week, another episode of Dana White’s Contender Series. Stay tuned next week for more predictions, and thanks for reading.