Three-time national boxing champ makes her pro MMA debut on Contender Series


The first portion of the fourth season of Dana White’s Contender Series comes to a close Tuesday, as the UFC heads back to Abu Dhabi later this month.

So far, 23 UFC contracts have been given out through six weeks this season. There surely will be more Tuesday, with several intriguing names stepping into the cage.

Episode 7 of Season 4 is Tuesday from the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. Five fights in four weight classes begin at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN+. Here are three fighters to keep an eye on:

World-class boxer Danyelle Wolf

The UFC women’s featherweight division could badly use some fresh faces. And Wolf definitely qualifies. She’s a former three-time USA Boxing national champion and former Golden Gloves boxing national champion. Without high-profile fights out there for Wolf in boxing — and the Olympics not having her weight class — Wolf has been focusing on MMA. The 6-foot fighter will be making her pro MMA debut Tuesday against Taneisha Tennant. Wolf is a tremendous athlete. She was a three-sport star at Millersville University, competing in field hockey, basketball and track and field. Wolf, 37, got a late start in MMA, but she shows promise. And in the shallow women’s 145-pound division, she has a chance to make a mark.

Fighting diabetic Jordan Williams

Williams has not fought since losing a close split decision to Ramazan Kuramagomedov on Contender Series last year. The California resident was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when he was 19 years old, Williams told ESPN in 2019. Doctors told him he should not compete in combat sports. The disease makes him fatigue faster than others and bleed more easily. But Williams continued with a career in mixed martial arts and has had success. Before the Kuramagomedov loss, Williams was on a four-fight unbeaten streak. On Tuesday, he faces Gregory Rodrigues in a middleweight bout with another chance for a UFC contract.

Former college football player Michael Lombardo

Before MMA, Lombardo was an inside linebacker, playing football for Arkansas State University and Wagner College. Now he’s trying to rebound from the lone loss of his career, to Kyle Daukaus in June 2019, on Contender Series. The welterweight fighter, who trains out of American Top Team, is undefeated in three straight since the Daukaus loss. Lombardo’s opponent will be Korey Kuppe. The ultimate goal for Lombardo is not just getting into the UFC — it’s one day becoming UFC champion. That road could start Tuesday night.

Tuesday’s fight schedule

Middleweight: Gregory Rodrigues (7-2) vs. Jordan Williams (8-3)

Men’s featherweight: Muhammad Naimov (5-0) vs. Collin Anglin (7-1)

Welterweight: Korey Kuppe (8-3) vs. Michael Lombardo (10-2)

Women’s featherweight: Danyelle Wolf (0-0) vs. Taneisha Tennant (3-0)

Men’s featherweight: Kyle Driscoll (11-3) vs. Dinis Paiva (13-7)

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