Season Four of Dana White’s Contender Series comes to a close on Tuesday night, with two former competitors taking a second shot at landing a UFC title in the main event.
Flyweights JP Buys and Jacob Silva both previously lost on Dana White’s Contender Series, but have done enough to earn a callback from the UFC president.
Buys Attempts to Emulate Wife’s Contender Series Success
Buys (8-2) hails from South Africa. He appeared on the Contender Series back in its first season, losing by second-round TKO to Joby Sanchez. Since then, he’s picked up four straight wins in lower-level MMA promotions like the Extreme Fighting Championship. Buys’ wife, Cheyanne Buys, already earned a UFC contract this season by beating Hilarie Rose.
Silva (6-3) also appeared on the Contender Series earlier this season, dropping a decision to Jeff Molina. That broke a six-fight winning streak for the 32-year-old. His performance impressed White, who nearly gave him a contract despite the loss, suggesting a win on Tuesday could land him in the UFC.
However, it’s Buys who comes in as the prohibitive favorite. FanDuel Sportsbook lists Buys as a -355 pick to get past Silva (+270) in the main event.
Maximov Favored Despite Huge Size Difference
In the co-main event, undefeated light heavyweight Nick Maximov (5-0) will battle Oscar Cota (11-2). The 22-year-old Maximov trains with the Nick Diaz Academy in Chico, California, and knows he’s getting a golden opportunity on Tuesday.
“It’s the biggest fight of my career. It’s what will get me in or what will put me out,” Maximov told the Chico Enterprise-Record. “It’s the UFC. It’s really if Dana likes you, you’re staying. If not, you’re going.”
Maximov will move up to heavyweight for his Contender Series debut. That creates a massive weight mismatch in this fight: Cota weighed in at 263.5 pounds, while Maximov tipped the scales at just 209 pounds.
|Dana White’s Contender Series Odds (via FanDuel Sportsbook)|
|Jacob Silva: +270||JP Buys: -365|
|Nick Maximov: -430||Oscar Cota: +320|
|Gloria de Paula: -162||Pauline Macias: +132|
|Sherrard Blackledge: -178||Tucker Lutz: +144|
The 36-year-old Cota has won nine of his last 10 fights, including a victory over Christopher Plasencia at a Combate Americas event last September. Even with the major size advantage, however, Cota (+320) comes in as a significant underdog to the younger Maximov (-430).
“I feel good mentally. I’m in a better place than my last fight,” Maximov said. “It’s a really good opportunity and I’ve been more happy and anxious than anything.”
Earlier on the Contender Series card, 21-year-old Australian Chelsea Hackett (3-0-1) will take on Victoria Leonardo (7-2) in a flyweight contest. Hackett, a former world Muay Thai champion at lightweight, transitioned into MMA last year and thinks she’s in line for a UFC contract.
“That just gives me goosebumps talking about it,” Hackett told ESPN. “People say ‘Contender’s your dream,’ but Contender isn’t my dream, being a UFC champion is my dream, and Contender is a stepping stone toward that.”