This Tuesday night brings episode one of season seven for Dana White’s Contender Series and we have a full five-fight card. As always, I will break down each specific matchup and give you a background on each fighter along with my official prediction for each fight. If you have any questions, feel free to hit me up on Twitter.

Cameron Smotherman vs Charalampos Grigoriou

Cameron Smotherman is an 8-3 prospect fighting out of Texas. He has fought his entire amateur and professional career with Fury FC. Of his eight victories, five of them have come by knockout. He is primarily a striker and needs to keep the fight on the feet. He has good boxing combinations and cardio and that has been enough to break multiple opponents on the regional scene. However, I have some serious concerns with his fighting style. He struggles to defend takedowns and good grapplers will be able to control him for extended periods. He also takes a little bit to get his reads, so the volume is not there initially. He has not faced much in terms of the level of competition and anyone who forces him to grapple seems to have some success.

His opponent, Charalampos Grigoriou is a 7-3 prospect fighting out of Cyprus. He trains out of Weidman and Longo MMA in New York and is the former Combat FC featherweight champion. Of his seven professional wins, five of them have come by knockout. His level of competition was relatively low, but he did get knocked out by Christian Rodriguez back in 2021 which was his highest-level fight by far. On the feet, he relies on constant pressure and has fast hands with his boxing combinations. He also mixes in the leg kicks very well and will occasionally look to land takedowns which is encouraging. He does get a little sloppy at times when blitzing in the pocket but overall, he is a very well-rounded fighter.

I favor Grigoriou in this matchup. On the feet, I expect both fighters to land some shots, but Grigoriou will have a big advantage with the calf kicks and should be throwing more volume as well. Lastly, I expect him to mix in the wrestling a bit as well and that is where he will really separate in this fight. Grigoriou by TKO is the official pick.

Eduarda Moura vs Janaina Silva

Eduarda Moura is an undefeated prospect fighting out of Brazil and she sports an 8-0 record. Of those eight victories, seven of those have come by finish and five of them were inside the first round. She has yet to be tested much on the regional scene and has only been fighting professionally for a little over a year. She trains out of the same gym Jailton Almeida and has competed in multiple grappling tournaments and holds a purple belt in BJJ. She is going to have a clear grappling advantage in this fight and I expect her to use it.

Her opponent, Janaina Silva is a 5-0 undefeated prospect fighting out of Brazil as well. Of her five professional victories, two of them have come by knockout. She has also faced very poor competition on the regional scene but did make her LFA debut last time out in November. She is primarily a striker with a powerful right hand but is undersized for the division and needs to close distance to land some big shots. I have some concerns with her defensive grappling and doubt she is able to compete at the UFC level.

This seems like a showcase fight for Moura to me. Despite some concerns on both sides, I expect Moura to have the biggest advantage in the fight and that comes in the grappling department. Moura by submission is the official pick.

Hyder Amil vs Emrah Sonmez

Hyder Amil is a 7-0 undefeated prospect fighting out of California. He has previously fought over in LFA and has four wins coming by knockout. He fights out of the southpaw stance and does carry some power on the feet. He is basically just a brawler as he wants to move forward and turn it into an ugly fight. He has some powerful hooks but gets sloppy on defense and will eat some shots. He has shown the ability to grapple a little bit as well, but it usually comes from catching a kick or a random exchange where they end up on the mat. He typically is not shooting conventional takedowns much of the time. He holds a purple belt in BJJ but tends to give his back up when he gets taken down and has been nearly submitted multiple times on the regional scene.

His opponent, Emrah Sonmez is a 14-4 prospect fighting out of England. Of his 14 career victories, 11 of them have come inside the distance. On the feet, Sonmez has some power in his hands and stays active with the leg kicks as well. He is fundamentally sound with his striking but will allow his opponents to pressure him backwards. His best asset is his wrestling and he will aggressively look to land takedowns as he has in the majority of his fights. He struggles when he cannot get his wrestling going against better grapplers. This is a fun matchup and I expect these men to get after it from the opening bell.

I favor the wrestling nature of Sonmez who should also be competitive on the feet. I expect Amil to back up Sonmez against the cage and try to land something big but Sonmez will use that to dip in for a takedown. Amil will likely give up his back and Sonmez can submit him or ride out that position to secure rounds. Sonmez by decision is the official pick.

Ibo Aslan vs Paulo Renato Jr.

Ibo Aslan is an 11-1 prospect fighting out of Austria. Of his 11 professional victories, all of them have come by knockout. He has big power on the feet and will look to land some very heavy leg kicks that he has dropped multiple opponents with. But the level of competition has been very poor outside of current UFC fighter, Anton Turkalj in 2020. Aslan has your typical big boy power but there is not much substance to his game outside of that and I have concerns with him if the fight were to get extended or turn into a grappling match. He has one of the most padded records I have ever seen in Contender Series history.

His opponent, Paulo Renato Jr. previously fought on Dana White’s Contender Series last season and dropped a decision to Jamal Pogues. He sports a 12-2 professional record and is fighting out of Brazil. Of his 12 victories, nine of them have come by knockout. He is primarily a striker as well and is active with the calf kicks although his do not carry as much power as Aslan. I do expect him to have the better gas tank though if the fight were to get extended.

This is a low-level fight and it seems like they want to showcase the powerful Austrian fighter. But Renato Jr. is one of the better fighters that Aslan has yet to face and that is saying something. If he can stay alive early, then he can certainly take over later in the fight. Renato Jr. by TKO is the official pick.

George Hardwick vs Abdul-Kareem Al-Selwady

George Hardwick is the Lightweight champion over in Cage Warriors promotion. He is a 12-1 prospect fighting out of England. Of his 12 victories, eight of them have come inside the distance. He is primarily a striker and has very technical striking skills. He will work behind a strong jab and is constant with his kicking attack. He punishes the body and uses his kicks excellently while at striking range. He also defends takedowns well and has a tight guillotine choke that he has finished three opponents with. He has also proven to have good cardio and has been tested over 15 minutes multiple times with some quality wins on his record.

His opponent, Abdul-Kareem Al-Selwady is a 14-3 prospect fighting out of Jordan. He is the former Fury FC lightweight champion and is coming off a five round decision victory. Of his 14 career victories, eight of them have come by knockout. He trains out of Fortis MMA and has clear knockout power while the fight plays out on the feet. But he is also very well rounded as he has shown the ability to land takedowns as well and holds a brown belt in BJJ. The only real concern with him is his durability as he has been knocked out three times in his career and all of them came inside the first round.

This is an exciting matchup with two very solid prospects in their own right. Al-Sewady is the more explosive fighter but I think he will have trouble closing the distance and getting past the legs of Hardwick in this fight. Hardwick should be able to work the body and defend any takedowns as well before hurting Al-Sewady later in the fight. Hardwick by TKO is the official pick.