Dana White’s Contender Series returns next Tuesday (August 31st) for their fifth season and we thought it would be a good opportunity to look back at some of the most successful winners from the popular fight series. This list is not just based on resumes but also things like popularity and level of competition.
Sean O’Malley: Season 1 (UFC Record 6-1)
— UFC Europe (@UFCEurope) August 11, 2020
Nobody has had a bigger impact after winning DWCS than Sean O’Malley. Not only does the 26-year-old have an impressive 6-1 UFC record, but “Suga” has established himself as one of the most popular fighters on the roster boasting 1.2 million Instagram followers. Critics will point to his lack of superior competition in the Octagon, however, you can’t deny O’Malley is one of the most talked-about fighters in the UFC right now.
Alex Perez: Season 1 (UFC Record 6-2)
— danawhite (@danawhite) August 9, 2017
Perez is the only fighter on this list who has fought for a UFC title so that alone has to put him near the top. While maybe not the most notable fighter to come from DWCS, the always exciting flyweight has put away three of his eight UFC opponents. The 29-year-old is set to fight Matt Schnell on September 4th at UFC Vegas 36.
Grant Dawson: Season 1 (UFC Record 6-0)
Grant Dawson gets the knockout in the final seconds of the 3rd round
KO 3rd round (+1600) ✅
— Barstool Sportsbook (@BSSportsbook) March 21, 2021
Dawson is the only undefeated fighter to make this list and is coming off an impressive third-round knockout victory over Leo Santos with a second left to go in the fight. If it weren’t for a lacked of ranked opponents, the 27-year-old would have made a stronger case to be higher on this list. The Glory MMA standout is set to face Diego Ferreira at UFC Fight Night in October.
Marina Rodriguez: Brazil Season (UFC Record 4-1-1)
— Sports 24/7 (@B_R_R_D) January 24, 2021
Rodriguez could very well be undefeated if not for a razor-close split decision loss to former champion Carla Esparza at UFC on ESPN 14, to which nine media members scored the fight for the Brazilian. The 34-year-old recently defeated Michelle Waterson by decision in May and will now face Mackenzie Dern at UFC Fight Night in October.
Geoff Neal: Season 1 (UFC Record 5-2)
— Joey Hayden (@_joeyhayden) September 9, 2018
While Neal is currently riding a two-fight skid, you can’t ignore the level of competition he’s fought during his UFC tenure. Notable wins over Belal Muhammad, Niko Price, and Mike Perry have shown glimpses of a future contender. If not for having serious health issues last year, who knows where Neal would be situated in the welterweight division if he was back to 100%. Turning 30 earlier this month and arguably in the prime of his career, Neal still has the ability to turn things around.
Honorable mentions – Ryan Spann (UFC Record 5-1), Brendan Allen (UFC Record 5-1), Adrian Yanez (UFC Record 3-0), Sodiq Yusuff (UFC Record 4-1)