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We are back for Dana White’s Contender Series episode two on Tuesday night. This card features multiple fighters that are very aggressive in nature including a banger matchup in our main event between Charlie Campbell and Chris Duncan. After Dana White’s message to contestants last week about finishing their opponent and making a statement, I do not think he will be disappointed this week.

Billy Goff vs Shimon Smotritsky
Goff, -240; Smotritsky, +200

Billy Goff is the former Cage Titans Welterweight champion and the double champ in CES. He is coming off the Middleweight championship fight against Justin Sumter that he fought on seven days’ notice and up a weight class. After dealing with some early adversity, he won the fight by TKO in the second round. He comes from a high school wrestling background and has relied on his ground game in his MMA career to this point. His striking at range is not bad but he clearly does his best work landing takedowns and dropping some vicious elbows and ground and pound.

His opponent, Shimon Smotritsky is coming off a second-round TKO in December. He previously fought on Dana White’s Contender Series last season and was submitted by Mike Malott in the first round which is the only loss in his professional career. Smotritsky comes from a Russian family but fights out of Israel and has been training for this fight in Las Vegas for the past few weeks getting rounds in at Extreme Couture and Syndicate MMA. He is long for the division and has some powerful body kicks which is probably his best weapon on the feet. He does have some power in his punches as well but needs to sharpen his defense as he leaves himself wide open for counter shots.

The biggest issue I have with Smotritsky is the same thing I mentioned in my breakdown against Malott last season. He constantly leaves his neck out there and puts himself in bad grappling positions. Not only did it bite him in the Malott fight, but he nearly got caught again in his last fight as well. He is a brown belt in BJJ and probably the more technical submission grappler in this matchup, but I expect Goff to be the more powerful wrestler and have the ability to land takedowns and stay safe in top position. Goff should have the better gas tank as well and is more willing to fight for your money (he got that DOG in him). Goff by TKO is the official pick.

Waldo Cortes-Acosta vs Danilo Suzart
Cortes-Acosta, -340; Suzart, +280

Waldo Cortes-Acosta is an undefeated prospect at 6-0 with four of his wins coming inside the distance. He is the LFA Heavyweight champion as he defeated Thomas Petersen in April by third-round knockout. He comes from a boxing background and is your typical heavyweight power puncher. He seems to have decent cardio for the division which makes him a tough matchup by itself. The biggest issue with Acosta is that he can be taken down and controlled on the mat against decent wrestlers but that likely will not matter in this matchup.

His opponent, Danilo Suzart is coming off a majority decision in February and is currently on a three-fight win streak. He is a 9-1 prospect with six knockout victories, but the level of competition leaves more to be desired. Of his nine career fights, just four had a winning record and most of them were very inexperienced as well. He is not very technical on the feet but does have a powerful overhand right that he throws repeatedly and with speed.

But Suzart is going to be much smaller as he is four inches shorter and will be dealing with a sizable reach disadvantage. Acosta is the more technical boxer and should have the better cardio as well. Outside of Suzart landing one of his big overhands, I think he loses this fight and likely by TKO. Acosta by knockout is the official pick.

Francis Marshall vs Connor Matthews
Marshall, -105; Matthews, -115

Francis Marshall is an undefeated prospect with a 5-0 professional record. He is only 23 years old and turned professional just three years ago. Despite the inexperience, he has a decent ground game and is aggressive with his submission grappling. Four of his five career wins have come by submission, and he has a way of finding your back if you give him enough time.

His opponent, Connor Matthews is another undefeated fighter with 5-0 records, but he is 30 years old as opposed to the younger Marshall. It is tough to know much about Matthews as all five of his career wins came inside the first round and just one of those lasted longer than one minute. Despite the impressive finishing record, the level of competition is laughable as his opponent’s combined record was 19-115. He trains out of Joe Lauzon’s gym in Massachusetts and fights like what you would expect as he comes out very aggressive looking to get you out of there.

I am expecting this fight to be fireworks from the very beginning with both guys having an aggressive fighting style. But I do feel that Marshall should be the favorite as he will likely have a striking advantage over 15 minutes, and I trust his cardio much more than Matthews who has yet to fight outside of the first round. Marshall by submission is the official pick.

Shannon Ross vs Vinicius Salvador
Ross, -240; Salvador, +200

Shannon Ross was originally supposed to fight Charles Johnson on this card, but Johnson ended up taking the fight against Muhammad Mokhaev in the UFC instead. Now Ross will square off against Vinicius Salvador in what is a much more winnable matchup for him. Ross is the former Flyweight champion in Eternal MMA. He is 33 years old and coming off nearly a two-year layoff so that adds a bit of variance as to what to expect from him. On tape, he seems to be a skilled striker with powerful leg kicks, good feints and sharp boxing.

His opponent, Vinicius Salvador is a 13-4 prospect with all 13 of his career wins coming inside the distance. He is a finisher by nature as he has had just two fights reach the third round in his career and only one went to decision which he lost. He is an unconventional striker with power in his hands but lacks defense and really just wants to slug it out and trade with you to find his kill shot. This is another matchup where I do not think the underdog has much talent outside of his power so he will need to land a big shot to win here which is always possible but not all that likely in this matchup. Ross by TKO is the official pick.

Charlie Campbell vs Chris Duncan
Campbell, -140; Duncan, +120

Charlie Campbell is a 6-1 prospect that previously fought in Bellator and CFFC so he has seen a little better competition than most of the fighters on this card. Campbell is primarily a striker with knockout power as four of his six career wins have come by knockout. He does not seem like a one punch type of power fighter but it is his ability to mix up his strikes and pick his shots that allow him to connect so cleanly. His ground game will likely be exposed at some point but I doubt it happens in this matchup.

His opponent, Chris Duncan fought on last season of Contender Series but was matchup with Viacheslav Borshchev after his original opponent could not fight. Duncan was knocked out by Borshchev but I won’t fault him too much against a well developed striker in Borshchev who has seen some success at the UFC level. Duncan is another powerful striker with six of his eight career wins coming by knockout. His level of competition is not to the level of Campbell’s, but I do expect Duncan to carry more power in the striking exchanges.

What this fight comes down to for me is the defensive liabilities of Duncan. He is likely going to be the one moving forward and pressuring, but he gets hit way too much. Against someone like Campbell that has good footwork and will dance around the outside and pick his spots, I do not think that is his best way to win. I expect Campbell to have success with the jab and his diversity of strikes should be the difference here. Campbell by knockout is the official pick.