Last night's Dana White's Contender Series brought some interesting twists and turns during the co-main event, showcasing the unpredictability of the MMA world. Alexander Soldatkin (14-4-0) and Mario Piazzon (7-0) entered the octagon with dreams of securing a contract with the world's premier MMA organization. However, fate had other plans, and neither of them left with that coveted contract.
Soldatkin and Piazzon engaged in a lackluster contest that spanned two uneventful rounds, leaving fans thirsting for more action. Even fighter Dylan Budka couldn't resist poking fun on Twitter, humorously quipping, "My fight is now the second worst fight in DWCS history, behind Soldatkin and Piazzon," after he had previously secured his contract with a unanimous decision victory over Chad Hanekom earlier in the season.
However, it was the third round that took an unexpected turn. In a surprising twist, the bout concluded via disqualification. Soldatkin had Piazzon pressed against the cage fence, and at one point, Piazzon leaned (somewhat) on the palm of his right hand. In a swift motion, Soldatkin unleashed a knee to the head, prompting referee Jacob Montalvo to halt the action.
This decision led to a prolonged pause and a thorough review of the footage to ascertain whether the strike was indeed illegal. After extensive deliberation, Soldatkin was disqualified due to Piazzon's inability to continue following the deemed illegal hit. However, this turn of events left MMA enthusiasts with lingering questions and a touch of confusion.
Notable MMA commentator Caposa even took to Twitter, expressing bewilderment over the ruling, stating, "The same commission 2 weeks ago (allowed this)." This sentiment was shared by many who couldn't quite grasp the disparity between the recent knee strikes by Alexa Grasso on Valentina Shevchenko and the one that resulted in Soldatkin's disqualification.
It turns out that Alexa Grasso faced no repercussions for her strikes, as they were deemed legal. Shortly after her match, Ariel Helwani reached out to the Nevada Athletic Commission, seeking clarification. The commission explained that for a strike to be considered illegal, the palm must be fully resting on the surface or act as support. After careful review, they concluded that Grasso's strikes were legal because Valentina's palm neither fully rested on the floor nor served as support.
The situation regarding how Piazzon utilized his palm as support during the bout remains highly debatable. It wouldn't be surprising if Soldatkin contested the outcome, given the stakes involved.
Alexander Soldatkin's name may ring a bell for some, as he previously defeated Benjamin Šehić earlier this year. Soldatkin secured a victory over the Bosnian heavyweight via stoppage in the second round at the Ares FC 15 event. This win earned him the opportunity to vie for a UFC contract. However, his journey on the DWCS ended in an unfortunate disqualification.
In addition to the Soldatkin-Piazzon bout, four other matchups graced the Contender Series stage last night, resulting in six contracts awarded by Dana White. The main event featured Danny Barlow (7-0) securing a contract with a first-round knockout of Raheam Forest (7-2), breathing new life into the welterweight division.
Danny Silva (8-1-0) bolstered the featherweight category, claiming his contract with a unanimous decision victory over Angelo Pacheco (7-2-0). Impressively, even the defeated Angel Pacheco earned a contract.
Ernesta Kareckaita (5-0-1), hailing from Lithuania, emerged as a new flyweight contender. In a closely contested battle, she secured a contract by defeating Carli Judice (3-1-0) via split decision. Notably, Judice also received a contract despite the loss.
The night began with a bang as Brazilian Vinicius Oliveira (19-3-0) knocked out Mexican Victor Madrigal (12-4-0) in just three minutes of fighting, further enriching the already competitive bantamweight division. Fans can't wait to see what Vinicius Oliveira will bring to this dynamic division.
Image courtesy of ESPN