Four fighters to watch from Season 6 of Dana White’s Contender Series

Just like previous seasons, Season 6 of Dana White’s Contender series brought MMA prospects from around the world and gave them a chance to make their mark in the UFC.

With 43 of the contenders getting deals, the most in a single season, there are plenty of new names for fans to learn. But who stood out from the crowd? Who are the fighters that fans should keep up with?

Could one of this season’s fighters be the next Taila Santos or Alex Perez – the only two DWCS graduates to have fought for a UFC title? Could some 2022 signers soon be battling for a place in the ESPN division leaderboards, like Marina Rodriguez?

Brett Okamoto and Marc Raimondi take a look at the best UFC rookies of Season 6.


Weight class: middleweight
Record: 3:0

What else is there to say about Nickal at this point? After two wins in a total of 114 seconds this season of Dana White’s Contender Series, Nickal looks like the best prospect of ever getting a contract on the show – and one of the best prospects any of us have seen in MMA in a long time. A three-time NCAA Division I national champion from Penn State University, Nickal trains at one of the world’s top gyms, American Top Team, which makes things almost unfair. Nickal’s wrestling is among the best, if not the best, in the UFC. And he got to show his power when he knocked out Donovan Beard with one punch in last week’s Contender Series before submitting it. This guy is a real problem.

The question for UFC matchmakers now is how fast they want to push it. Nickal is already booked against Jamie Pickett at UFC 282 on December 10 in Las Vegas and is forecast to be a big favorite. If Nickal gets past Pickett, which he should, what will the UFC do with him? If it’s a spectacular result there could be support to give him a top 15 contender next. Nickal is already evoking stars like Khamzat Chimaev. But the truth is, there’s no need to rush. Nickal is currently 3-0 in MMA and 26 years old. He might just be too damn great for the UFC to hold back for very long. – Raimondi


Weight class: bantamweight
Record: 6:0

Is Rosas Jr. Ready to Make an Immediate Impact in the UFC? As the youngest fighter ever signed to the Contender Series (and if he fights in the first half of next year, the youngest fighter in UFC history), the odds are frankly against it, right? Rosas Jr. says he’s already looking at the best bantamweights in the world and seeing holes in their games. You’ve got to love that youthful confidence and optimism, but it’s there probably There will be some growing pains at some point – just like other young talent from the Contender Series (think Chase Hooper, Maycee Barber and Edmen Shahbazyan).

But unless you expect Rosas Jr. to be perfect from the start, he has a great chance to impress. He’s a versatile risk-taker with very real talent on the ground and a unique ability to tie different aspects of his game together much better than a 17-year-old should. He’s also incredibly physical for his age. There’s always a chance he’ll run into some “manpower” issues later with a more experienced opponent, but so far it doesn’t look like a big problem.

Is this all too soon for Rosas Jr.? Maybe. But maybe not. His potential is definitely one of the most important things to watch after the season. – Okamoto


Weight class: middleweight
Record: 10-2

UFC President Dana White might have christened Pyfer with a new catchphrase — “Be Joe Pyfer” — but he’s done more for the Pennsylvania native. After becoming the first fighter to earn a UFC contract for this Contender Series season in July, Pyfer told White he was on the verge of becoming homeless. White took money out of his own pocket to help out, which Pyfer later said was equivalent to a year’s rent. Pyfer obviously didn’t take that for granted. He made his full-fledged UFC debut on September 17, knocking out Alen Amedovski with a right hand.

The catchphrase came from a lack of action in Week 1 of the Contender Series, the show Pyfer appeared on. Pyfer was the only one to score a finish on the July 26 episode. So White told interviewer Laura Sanko that if fighters want to get contracts this season, they have to be better — they have to “be Joe Pyfer.” He may not have gotten the hype of a Nickal or Rosas Jr. this season, but Pyfer looks set to be a factor at UFC middleweight. He packs some punch in a 6ft 2 frame and has had a finish in nine of his 10 pro wins. It will be interesting to see how the man nicknamed “Bodybagz” fares as the level of competition increases. – Raimondi


Weight class: light
Record: 16-1

Rebecki hasn’t even made his UFC debut yet, but he already has a nickname from White, who referred to him as Re-Beast-i after his first-round submission finish in week 6. Obviously, the 2022 season saw many contracts being awarded, and different athletes stood out for different reasons. Rebecki likely won’t be a guy jumping on a rocket ship to climb the 155-pound rankings. The Polish fighter speaks English and has good energy on the mic, but don’t expect him to kick the door down with some viral trash talk.

While he’s definitely a finisher, as evidenced by his 87.5% finishing rate, his style is pretty straight forward. He’s a strong wrestler with fantastic submissions and he has the power in his hands. While I think it’s going to be a little time before Rebecki really gets people’s attention, that’s why he’s one of my favorite fighters to watch as a fighter, that’s why I think he does it is very UFC ready. Rebecki has been a pro since 2014 and a European lightweight champion since 2018. He is a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt with ADCC experience in grappling competitions. He’s genuine and more than capable of taking down UFC-caliber opponents. – Okamoto

https://www.espn.com/mma/story/_/id/34725532/four-fighters-watch-season-6-dana-white-contender-series Four fighters to watch from Season 6 of Dana White’s Contender Series

Emma Bowman

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