Ranking The Top 5 Fighters From UFC’s Dana White Contender Series Season I


Dana White’s Contender Series is a mixed martial arts promotion that allows the UFC president to find talent for the company. The Contender Series just finished its sixth season last month. One hundred and ninety-nine fighters have earned a contract from White via the series.

I will examine DWCS season I (2017), which lasted eight weeks and saw 16 fighters earn a contract. All fights take place at UFC Apex in Las Vegas.

1. Geoff Neal, Welterweight

Neal is the best fighter to come out of DWCS Season I. The No. 6 ranked welterweight has a 15-4 record, which includes going 7-2 in the UFC. He earned a contract with the promotion following a first-round TKO of Chase Waldon in Week 3.

Neal is one of the best mixed martial arts in the world and really doesn’t have any significant weaknesses. Five of his seven wins have come via a finish, including four by knockout. He has earned two Performance of the Night awards.

The 2019 MMA Junkie Under-the-Radar- Fighter of the Year will next enter the octagon against 10th-ranked Shavkat Rakhmonov (Jan. 14, 2023) on a two-fight win streak. He is coming off an impressive third-round knockout over Vicent Luque, ranked No. 9 in the division. Neal’s biggest win came back over No. 5 ranked Belal Muhammed via unanimous decision.

2. Sean O’Malley, Bantamweight

O’Malley is 15-1 in his professional career, which includes posting a 7-1 record in the UFC. The No. 12 ranked bantamweight earned his contract from the promotion in Week 2 of the DWCS opening season series after knocking out Alfred Khashayan in the first round.

O’Malley has been terrific in the UFC. He is a powerful hitter who is even better on the defensive end. The 27-year-old Montana native has recorded five knockouts in his eight UFC fights. He has earned four performances of the night and been involved in two fights of the night.

“Sugar’s” only loss was to the division’s fifth-ranked fighter Marlon Vera in 2020. O’Malley will enter his next fight against Peter Yan, the Bantamweight’s No. 1 contender, at UFC 280 (Oct. 28) on a three-match win streak. His last fight against Pedro Munhoz ended with a no-decision due to an accidental eye poke to Munhoz.

3. Grant Dawson, Lightweight

Dawson has been absolutely spectacular since turning professional, compiling an 18-1-1 record. He is 6-0-1 since earning a UFC contract after earning a submission victory over Adrian Diaz via a rear-naked choke on August 17, 2017.

Dawson is a powerful grappler and has earned half of his UFC victories via submission due to an aggressive, offensive game. All totaled, Dawson has recorded four finishes within the promotion.

Dawson has earned two performances of the night. His best victory came in his latest trip to the Octagon, a third-round submission of No. 20 Jared Gordon.

4. Julian Marquez, Middleweight

Marquez has fought sparingly since earning a UFC contract via knockout over Phil Hawes, who is also a promotion member, in week 4 of the series. The 32-year-old Kansas City native has a 9-3 record though he is just 3-2 in the UFC.

Marquez has participated in two fights of the night and was chosen as a performer of the night once. He had a two-match win streak snapped the last time out, suffering a first-round knockout at the hands of Gregory Rodrigues on June 18. Marquez will face Deron Winn at UFC Night 216.

5. Alex Perez, flyweight

Perez is the most experienced fighter on the list, with a 24-7 record. The No. 6 ranked flyweight, 6-3 in the UFC, has lost two straight fights, with each setback coming via submission. Perez has earned two Performances of the Night accolades.


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