Contender Series to feature an LFA champion and a brawler vs. grappler battle


The contracts just keep on coming.

UFC president Dana White did another Oprah Winfrey impression (“You get a contract, you get a contract!”) last week on Contender Series. White gave out another four UFC deals, bringing the Season 4 total up to 16 contracts through four weeks.

Meanwhile, Impa Kasanganay, who earned a contract in Week 2 of Contender Series action this season, recorded a win this past Saturday night in his UFC debut. He defeated Maki Pitolo by unanimous decision at UFC Fight Night: Smith vs. Rakic.

It has been an exciting time for Contender Series competitors this season. Will the drama continue?

Episode 5 of Season 4 is on Tuesday from the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. Five fights in five weight classes begin at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN+. Here are three fighters to look for:

Incumbent LFA champion Jimmy Flick

Flick is the current LFA flyweight champion and is 3-0 for that promotion, with every victory coming via finish. Flick has the undefeated Nate Smith on Tuesday night in what could end up being one of the best fights of the night. Flick, at 14-5, has the experience edge over Smith and has fought the much tougher competition overall. Flick is a 10-year pro who is peaking right now at 29 years old. “The Brick” is looking to break his way into the UFC.

Late bloomer William Knight

Knight started training in MMA only five years ago. Why didn’t he earlier? Too “lazy,” he says. Well, at 32 years old, Knight might have gotten a late start. And it’s weird to call him a prospect. But he absolutely is a dangerous man at light heavyweight. Knight has finished all seven of his wins by KO/TKO — including one last year on Contender Series ­– and is considered one of the top up-and-coming talents out of New England. Knight, a Connecticut native, considers himself a “brawler.” So, it’ll be interesting to see what his fight Tuesday with Cody Brundage looks like. Brundage has a wrestling background and will most likely look to take the fight to the ground. Knight wants to stand and bang. Classic striker vs. grappler battle.

Kung fu master Ronnie Lawrence

When he was 17 years old, Lawrence was lifting weights in the back of a kung fu gym. According to Lawrence, one of the fighters came into the area with the fighter’s girlfriend and one of Lawrence’s friends made a pass at her. A physical altercation ensued, and Lawrence and his friends were thrown out of the gym. But the kung fu instructor asked Lawrence why he was starting trouble and then invited him back to train. That’s how Lawrence got started in martial arts — and now he’s a black belt in kung fu. Lawrence, who is 5-1 in MMA, meets Jose Johnson on Tuesday night. Lawrence, 28, trains out of the American Top Team branch in Sunrise, Florida. He describes his style as “flashy.” Meanwhile, Johnson, a muay thai fighter, has finished his past seven wins via strikes. Lawrence vs. Johnson could be the standup battle of the night.

Tuesday’s fight schedule

Featherweight: Melsik Baghdasaryan (4-1) vs. Dennis Buzukja (4-1)

Flyweight: Jimmy Flick (14-5) vs. Nate Smith (6-0)

Bantamweight: Jose Johnson (11-5) vs. Ronnie Lawrence (5-1)

Light heavyweight: William Knight (7-1) vs. Cody Brundage (5-0)

Lightweight: Tucker Lutz (9-1) vs. Chase Gibson (9-4)

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