Tuesday night violence is back on the table, with a generous helping as the main event. Hope you didn’t spoil your appetites.
Yusaku Kinoshita vs Jose Henrique
Japan’s Yusuku Kinoshita (5-1) is one of the hottest welterweight prospects in Japan right now with a brief but killer highlight reel. Snappy 1-2s, decent use of range, a sneakily accurate right hand and a finishing instinct that is off the charts, he’s absolutely a guy to watch here. He’s been in some wild bouts during his time in DEEP, Pancrase and his lone RIZIN Trigger fight, which is his only loss due to a disqualification for illegal fence grabbing. How well he’ll do with Unified Rules that forbid kicks or stomps to the heads of grounded opponents is worth considering, as is how he’ll deal with clinch ties and wrestling takedowns.
But he may not have to worry too much about that for this particular outing. Jose Henrique (5-0) is another rangy striker that managed to carve himself a neat little path to get here. There’s nothing truly objectionable to his record, and the guy can fight. He’s great at boxing guys in and cutting off their movement once he gets a good read on them. His clinchwork seems a bit minimal, but he’s got deadly elbows inside and up close and some powerful knees. This fight shouldn’t be on the ground for long if at all. It’s looking exciting and either fighter would be a nice addition to the roster.
Matěj Peňáz vs Sedriques Dumas
Peňáz (6-0) got his start in kickboxing and promptly started making waves in MMA after transitioning over. Now, some of his record is iffish, considering the fact that a seasoned kickboxer was out there fighting guys that were 2-11 and 9-10. This doesn’t mean the same thing in every region or scenario, though.
Cain Velasquez had trouble getting fights early on for his reputation as an NCAA standout, so perhaps it’s possible he had some difficulty fighting more quality opposition. Add to that the fact that we’re talking about a middleweight and that division is… not in a good place. On the bright side, his wins look a lot better in retrospect. His wins over Romain Debienne, Chiek Kone and Gianni Melillo are quite good. His actual performances are good, so his field of opposition isn’t the red flag it is for most other fighters.
It’s a lot of punches, sharp low kicks, and a tendency to really pour it on after landing wide counters for him. He’s good at fending off takedown attempts either against the cage or in open space.
He’s up against Dumas (6-0), who isn’t as composed in his ability to close the distance but gets the job done. He’s not a dyed-in-the-wool kickboxer like his opponent, but he’s got a little Cro Cop in him.
And much like Peňáz, it’s hard to get a read on his ceiling due to his relative inexperience. He can strike, he looks like a hell of an athlete and has great instincts in moment to moment decisions. Another striker showcase, it should be plenty of fun to watch.
Mateusz Rębecki vs Rodrigo Lidio
Rębecki (15-1) is a tank with a ton of power and actual submission chops. That’s literally it. There’s not too much to know past that, because he’s just that good at what he does. His record is respectable with wins accumulated from his native Poland but against some very tough guys in a circuit that’s been creating better and better talent over time. Just look at that left hand. His highlight reel is dope, but his actual fights demonstrate an ability to do the right thing at the right time. Drawing counters, setting up takedowns from the clinch, moving away from flurries, etc. He’s probably the guy to watch here.
As a bonus, you can check out this grappling match between him and Mateusz Gamrot.
His opponent? Also another guy that’s built different and someone to be excited about. Lidio (12-2) is skilled, but he has a minor knock of feasting on some less-than-good opposition early on. But again, that’s fine when you’re starting out. Since then, he’s been fighting pretty good opponents and putting them away. Check out the way he put away Adilson “Jack Godzilla“ Fernandes in the very last round for the Future MMA title.
Lidio works well behind his jab, takes his time sussing guys out, and my only minor pet peeve regarding his fighting is how he throws a few too many naked high kicks for my liking. He does his best work in the standup department when he has someone at midrange against the cage, and his elbows on the ground are absolutely pristine. There’s very little chance this one disappoints.
Maria Silva vs Viktoriya Dudakova
Maria Silva (8-0) has been here before, a talented prospect off the Brazilian scene with only two of her eight wins being decisions. She fought eventual Ultimate Fighter contestant Kathryn Popracki last year on Contender Series. Despite winning via decision, she didn’t get a signing right there. A submission earlier this year against a very game Ewelina Wozniak has led her back here, where she hopes to impress further.
With conservative but effective striking game, Silva creates opportunities for grappling entries and maximizes that to the fullest extent.
Dudakova is an IMMAF alum, racking up a nice amateur record before going on to a perfect 5-0 as a pro. Three of those wins were by rear naked choke, another by armbar. She’s got ground skills for days and her setups for those chokes are not pleasant to be the victim of. Her striking? Also a problem, because her blitzes do damage when she connects.
Yet another fight where either participant could be signed outright. It’s a good one, and very much worth watching.
Blake Bilder vs Alex Morgan
Blake Bilder (6-0, 1 draw) spent 2012-2016 as an amateur and didn’t turn pro after that until 2018. Since then, he’s been fighting at a steady clip. Four of his six wins are finishes, and he doesn’t mull about with his wrestling base. He gets the fight to the ground as soon as possible and does very smart work of putting pressure and keeping it on.
Alex Morgan (11-4) is the former TKO champion at featherweight. He won that one off of TJ Laramie, and subsequently lost that belt to Charles Jourdain. Considering where things are now, that’s a good loss and nothing to be ashamed of. That win over Laramie was his second against him, too.
Nicknamed “The Chess Master“, he tends to fight smart and take whatever opening you give him. Because he knows he can make others pay when that happens. Both can strike and grapple, but Bilder should have a substantial wrestling advantage while Morgan has a patient approach and a better use of range for his accurate striking.
You can check out the weigh-in highlights here, courtesy of the crew over at MMAJunkie:
Full card is as follows:
Yusaku Kinoshita (171.0) vs. Jose Henrique (171.0)
Sedriques Dumas (184.5) vs. Matej Penaz (185.0)
Rodrigo Lidio (155.0) vs. Mateusz Rebecki (155.5)
Viktoriya Dudakova (116.0) vs. Maria Silva (115.0)
Blake Bilder (145.5) vs. Alexander Morgan (144.5)
Dana White’s Contender Series takes place this Tuesday night starting at 8:00pm EST. As usual, this event streams live exclusively on ESPN+.