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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.

Davi Costa vs Lucas Rocha

Davi Costa is a 14-3 prospect fighting out of Brazil. Of his 14 professional victories, 12 of them have come inside the distance and he has won eight of his last 10 fights inside the first round. He is the former Shooto Brazil Flyweight champion. On the feet, he has some power in his hands but he is mainly looking to chop you down with leg kicks that he will throw repeatedly. He has good timing on his takedowns and will aggressively look to get the fight to the ground as he lands multiple takedowns in many of his fights. He has good control in top position and is a threat to submit you as he is a former CBJJO world cup champion.

His opponent, Lucas Rocha is a 16-1 prospect fighting out of Brazil. Of his 16 victories, nine of them have come by knockout and he is just 23 years old as well. Rocha is primarily a striker and has fought the tougher competition on the regional scene for the most part. He works the body well and has some power but he is pretty sloppy defensively and can be taken down and controlled on the mat.  

I expect this fight to be competitive on the feet with Costa landing the leg kicks while Rocha has the better combinations. But the takedowns and grappling should be the difference in favor of Costa. Costa by submission is the official pick.

Raimond Magomedaliev vs Mauricio Ruffy

Raimond Magomedaliev is a 10-1 prospect fighting out of Russia. Of his 10 victories, five of them have come by knockout. He trains out of Eagles MMA with Khabib Nurmagomedov among others and is a former combat sambo world champion and Kung Fu world champion. He also spends some time training at American Top Team which is always encouraging to see. On the feet, Magomedaliev has power in his hands and will try some flashy leg kicks as well. He also has the typical Dagestani grappling chops and will look to get the fight to the ground. When in top position, he lands some vicious ground and pound and is looking to finish the fight. The concern with him is that he is coming off an 18-month layoff at 33 years old and we have seen him give up takedowns and be controlled on the mat in the past.

His opponent, Mauricio Ruffy is an 8-1 prospect fighting out of Brazil. All eight of his wins have come by knockout and he has never reached the third round in his entire career. He previously trained with the Fighting Nerds and has gotten rounds in with Ricardo Ramos. He is a flashy striker with a strong jab and a fast one-two combination. It is clear that the power is there if he is able to connect clean on you. But outside of the early knockout power and flashy leg kicks, there is not much else to his game. His defensive grappling and gas tank are entirely unproven and he has not faced much resistance on the regional scene.

Ruffy is a live underdog in the sense that he is powerful enough to hurt Magomedaliev early. However, Magomedaliev is clearly the more proven and well-rounded fighter. I expect him to go to the grappling which should negate the early danger of Ruffy and be the difference. Magomedaliev by TKO is the official pick.

Magomed Gadzhiyasulov vs Jose Medina

Magomed Gadzhiyasulov is a 7-0 undefeated prospect fighting out of Russia. Of his seven professional victories, five of them have come by knockout. He has only fought out of the first round once in his career. On the feet, he is a good striker with nonstop kicking attacks from every angle. He is very long for the division and wants to keep you at range and chop you down from distance. But he is also capable of leaning on the typical Russian grappling if he needs to and seems like one of the better prospects on the entire season relative to weight class. The only concern is that he has yet to be pushed on the regional scene and needs to fight better competition for us to gauge just how good he is.

His opponent, Jose Medina is a 11-2 prospect fighting out of Brazil. Of his 11 professional victories, eight of them have come by knockout. He comes from a striking background and is a two-time national boxing champion. He has also faced low level talent on the regional scene and this is clearly his toughest test to date. I do not want to write him off entirely but I struggle to see how he wins this fight.

I expect Gadzhiyasulov to have a clear advantage on the feet with his kicks while Medina struggles to close distance. Medina has been working on his grappling and is a purple belt in BJJ but that likely will not be enough as I expect the Russian to have a clear edge if the fight hits the mat as well. Gadzhiyasulov by TKO is the official pick.

Victor Hugo vs Eduardo Torres

Victor Hugo is a 23-4 prospect fighting out of Brazil. Of his 23 career victories, 16 of them have come inside the distance. He is currently on a 12-fight winning streak and he finished six of those inside the first round. He trains out of Astra fight team and is a training partner of current UFC fighter, Saimon Oliveira and former UFC fighters, Humberto Bandenay. He has power on the feet but typically is not putting a ton of volume out there as he wants to clinch up and look to get the fight to the ground. He has some slick submissions and will go for them nonstop on the mat.

His opponent, Eduardo Torres is a 16-1 prospect fighting out of Chile. Of his 16 career victories, six of them have come by knockout. He is primarily a striker and comes from a Muay Thai background. He is very active with his kicking attack and good in the clinch with big knees and elbows as well. But he has also been working on his wrestling and is capable of landing takedowns although I do not fully trust his grappling. His cardio seems to check out and I expect him to have that edge if the fight reaches the third round. Lastly, he seems to have a padded record as he has not faced much resistance on the regional scene and his only career loss came against former UFC fighter, Nohelin Hernandez.

This is a fun matchup and one that I expect to be competitive throughout. Torres will likely be landing more volume on the feet but Hugo seems to carry more power and should have the grappling upside as well. Hugo by submission is the official pick.

Murtaza Talha vs Rodolfo Bellato

Murtaza Talha is a 6-0 undefeated prospect fighting out of Bahrain. All six of his professional wins have come inside the first round. He also has a lengthy amateur career with a 12-0 record and a decision win over Anton Turkalj. He is the former IMMAF world champion and has represented Bahrain in wrestling and jiu-jitsu tournaments as well. He has spent part of this training camp at Xtreme Couture in Las Vegas with Sean Strickland. On the feet, he is pretty sloppy but very powerful if he can land clean on you. He is also very powerful with the grappling and likes to muscle his opponents to the ground where he can submit them or land ground and pound. He is one of the most ‘UFC-ready’ prospects we have seen this season.

His opponent, Rodolfo Bellato is a 10-2 prospect fighting out of Brazil. Of his 10 professional victories, nine of them have come inside the distance. He is the former Light Heavyweight champion in LFA and fought on last season of Dana White’s Contender Series and lost by TKO to Victor Petrino. He has some power in his hands but is also a tricky submission grappler and will look to chain attempts together if the fight gets to the ground. However, I do not trust the chin of Bellato who was knocked out twice by Petrino in brutal fashion.

I expect Talha to be able to land something big on the feet as Bellato loves to throw those naked leg kicks that have got him punished in the past. Additionally, I would expect Talha to be more likely to spend time in top position as Bellato is fishing for submissions off his back which I do not think will work against Talha. Talha by TKO is the official pick.