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Dana White’s Contender Series Week 5

Contract Winners: Billy Quarantillo, Jamahal Hill, Sean Woodson

Billy Quarantillo vs Kamuela Kirk
Billy Quarantillo opens this featherweight bout as the aggressor but his low kick turns into a takedown as Kirk steals his ankle and takes him down directly into guard. Billy continually shifts position throughout the remainder of the first round trying to shake him off, but never really has an answer as Kirk stays busy with while controlling the action. It doesn’t discourage Billy who continues to fight for top control on the ground and delivers some offense in the waning moments of a first round surely scored for Kirk with over three and a half minutes of effective top control.

The second round is much more of a stand up affair with Kirk remaining creative and fluid with his combos, trying to chip away at a Quarantillo that is finding confidence with his power shots. Billy begins to find his distance and with singular and direct striking, works the body and back to the head. Kirk is unable to match Billy’s power and the momentum of the bout shifts dramatically. The variety in Billy’s deliberate forward pressure keeps Kirk desperate for a takedown that just isn’t there for him anymore. Several knees to the body followed by a symphony of unanswered strikes has Kirk’s presence beginning to finally unravel.

Barely escaping the second round Kirk had no fight left in him and the beginning of the third round is a mere formality with the pressure of Billy Quarantillo forcing Herb Dean to call a standing TKO stoppage. It was a combination of his heart in the first round and his killer instinct in the second that won over Dana White to earned a UFC contract.

Jamahal Hill vs Alexander Poppeck
The light heavy weights of the evening both enter this bout with substantial power in their striking and use their legs early. Low kicks set up the counter strikes with the straight lefts for Hill but Poppeck eats the shots in anticipation of his counters until taking a disturbingly powerful low kick to the groin that echoed throughout their eerily silent Apex Facility. The stoic German seemed only mildly annoyed and recovered quickly to return to action despite the power and precision of the foul.

Poppeck leads the offense after the stoppage with a series of loud combos firing the right hand and right leg. But Hill is never hesitant to return fire with his left head kick that sets up another loud body kick that connects near the liver and visabley affects Poppeck. Poppeck’s natural reactions betray him as he efforts to maintain his poker face but still struggles to not wince and cover the liver with his elbow. Receiving the telegraph Hills senses his momentum and a follow up straight left again connects and sets up a cavalcade of strikes that forces Poppeck to level change and seek refuge in a single leg that always lacked commitment and foresight. Hill finishes the first round with a warning for an eye poke.

In the second round Poppeck starts to fade as Hill punishes the body and stuffs the desperate takedown attempts. Hill capitalizes on the following clinch and lands a sequence of hard knees to the body and head that crumbles Poppeck onto the cage, crouching for safety and clinging to a single leg. With thirty seconds remaining the knees never stop coming and a depleted Poppeck covers up for the final time as Hill completes his ground and pound stoppage. In a turn around that changed Dana White’s mind mid fight, Hill earns a UFC contract despite his slow start.

Christian Lohsen vs JJ Okanovich
Both of these Lightweights enter this bout with resumes strong with submission victories, but that didn’t diminish their willingness to open up with striking exchanges instead of going immediately to their jiu jitsu. But the strikes give way to the clinch and eventually the grappling earns Lohsen a trip takedown into side control.

Lohsen remains patient on top and while in the half guard waits for Okanovich to provide an opportunity. From full mount a tight D’arce choke gives way to an arm triangle. Lohsen maintains the pressure searching for submissions, but in his pursuit of an arm bar allows Okanovich the breathing room he needed to reverse himself into Lohsen’s guard. Okanovich plays catch up with his ground and pound attempting to close the points gap on Lohsens strong first round.

The second round sees a spry Okanovich winning the early standing striking exchanges as Lohsens sloppy form and heavy legs have him eating shots. A stiff sprawl from Okanovich stops the single leg attempt and keeps the fight standing, but we still see an unwillingness to commit to the striking attack. The gas tank of Lohsen is seemingly exposed by his drunken wobbles and poor standing defense, yet a timid Okanovich seems content to see out the round and fails to capitalize on the vulnerability.

Lohsen’s hands remain low and his movement slow and predictable, but Okanovich remains committed the casual head hunting, but his power is ineffective. Lohsen is playing a risky game with his poor defense, but to be fair Okanovich hasn’t really delivered much to coerce Lohsen into fighting smarter. Okanovich ultimately does enough to secure a unanimous decision, but his questionable sense of urgency lead to many missed opportunities for a finish, as well as a UFC contract.

Terrance McKinney vs Sean Woodson
Returning to the featherweights, Terrance McKinney opens strong with some aggressive kicking, but is quickly stung with a jab indicative of Sean Woodson’s experience from 45 amateur boxing bouts. It doesn’t deter a quick and plucky McKinney who once again use his head kick to set up a level change. Woodson uses the fence well to defend against McKinney’s wrestling advantage. Woodson is lifted high into the air for a potential takedown and lands an elbow to break the clinch and renegade the stand up.

When McKinney abandons the clinch on the cage he again uses his head kick to set up his hands and is stung by Woodson’s veteran jab. Despite being dropped, McKinney uses the single leg cover to wrestle Woodson back into the mat and take control of his back with a body triangle and miserable neck crank. Woodson tries to punch his way out of the triangle, but eventually both fighters concede to riding out the clock in a slouch of attrition.

Woodson begins the second round well stopping two takedowns with a nice sprawl, but a clever McKinney shucks his way around to reclaim control of the back and the neck. In this series though Woodson is able to break the choke and turn his hips. McKinney loses him in transition abandons the ground game to rise up and retreat as Woodson fires warning shot with a forward pressure high kick.

Backed into the corner McKinney resets for the level change, but shoots and empty shot. McKinney is just leaning forward without following through with the takedown and offers his head to Woodson. In anticipation of the telegraphed takedown Woodson counters with a clever short notice flying knee to the temple that finds the Off switch on McKinney.

Ramazan Kuramagomedov vs Jordan Williams
The feature bout of the evening goes to the Middleweights with another promising Dagestani prospect in Ramazan opening with a brazen high kick. Williams looks to establish his rhythm with quick and efficient boxing. Williams seems to be slightly more aggressive in these fairly even exchanges, with both willing to mix it up on the feet.

Ramazan uses his size to initiate the clinch and walks his pressure forward by landing stern knees and elbows that back Williams into the cage. Ramazan only uses the clinch to set up offense and never commits to the wall and stall, as both fighters prefer the center of the octagon. Ramazan is able to deliver strong hands and also displays much grace in his head and shoulder movement to finish by dodging Williams’ counters. But when Williams does connect his combos we immediately see that he has a power advantage of his own.

Ramazan always recovers quickly and exploits a solid counter left hand, but Williams is getting the better of the exchanges with power combos. Despite Williams establishing his rhythm early in the second round, Ramazan stubbornly pushes forward and fires a statuesque flying knee. In a shot that would have knocked out most, it barely missed the chin and grazed the lead shoulder. It still served to set up a lunging takedown that quickly stands up back into a clinch.

In a tribute to his jabs effectiveness, Williams flows right back into rhythm and keeps the score cards close. Ramazan relies on his exceptional timing to find his counter shots, but he is still unable to slow Williams who continues to walk him down. In a very close split decision (30-27,29-28,29-28) Ramazan does just enough in this war to remain undefeated, but not enough to secure a UFC contract.

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