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DWCS Season 5: Fletcher, Murzakanov win with spectacular TKO finishes

c/o GETTY IMAGES

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - AUGUST 31: Azamat Murzakanov of Russia reacts after his knockout victory over Matheus Scheffel of Brazil in their light heavyweight fight during Dana White's Contender Series season five week one at UFC APEX on August 31, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

Welterweight: AJ Fletcher defeated Leonardo Damiani via KO (flying knee, R1 1, 2:24)

UFC must (and most likely will) strap the proverbial rocket to AJ Fletcher after this week’s spectacular performance. Fletcher, who has only been fighting for about five years, walked away with golden-boy story finish, knocking Damiani out halfway through the first round with a picture-perfect flying knee; in the post-fight interview he said it was like the flying knee players can use in UFC’s 2014 video game.

For Fletcher, this couldn’t have turned out any better than how it played out here, almost like Michael Chandler’s UFC debut last year, just on a much smaller scale. Though it should be pointed out know that the first half of this fight was arguably Damiani’s. So, would Fletcher have gotten the contract if this went three rounds? It’s too soon to say, but he probably would have. Fletcher is on his way to big things with UFC, and that’s clear after this opener.

Flyweight: Victor Altamirano defeated Carlos Candelario via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)

If we’re talking quality alone, this was the fight of the show, for sure. Candelario, who fought and lost on Season 1 of DWCS, brought heat early on. Altamirano bounced back quickly and was able to out-strike Candelario and control him on the ground for a good portion of Rounds 2 and 3. Felder had issues with some of the judges’ decisions afterwards, but ultimately tonight’s result was the right decision.

It was a valiant loss for Candelario, who would later be awarded a contract alongside Altamirano, with Dana White feeling it was “the right thing to do.” Candelario is now the first fighter to earn a contract on DWCS despite losing on separate occasions.

Altamirano cut a hell of a baby face promo post-fight, too, and is another fighter to keep an eye on in the future.

Featherweight: Joanderson Brito defeated Diego Lopes via technical decision (Round 3, 0:32, eye poke) (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)

The two Brazillian featherweights fought a really good fight that could’ve been a great one if not for all the eye poke business during Round 3. The two went at it with a wild pace, with Lopes even attempting a spinning back elbow late in the second round.

Brito was warned about extending his fingers from the glove earlier in the fight, but the finish here saw him stick Lopes in the eye early in Round 3, only 30 seconds in. Referee Chris Tagoni deducted a point from Brito, though the technical scorecard decision was 29–28 in favor of Brito. He was later awarded a contract despite the abrupt finish. I’m curious as to whether these two will ever have a chance to run it back either with each other down the road, or on the show again in the future.

Light heavyweight: Azamat Murzakanov defeated Matheus Scheffel via TKO (punches, Round 1, 3:00)

Once the Brazillian kickboxer caught a left job from Murzakanov in the first minute, his shell clearly began to crack. Scheffel has a good poker face, but the power coming at him from Murzakanov was explosive and accurate. Like the Terminator, Murzakanov seemed to not once let Scheffel out of his eye-line during this. If the newly-contracted Murzakanov turns in one or two more performances like this in 2021, UFC and Light Heavyweight champion Jan Blachowicz will have a stone-cold killer and serious title contender on their hands.

In his post-fight interview with Laura Sanko, who was excellent on this, the Circassian fighter Murzakanov requested a proper UFC bout for as soon as possible. “One thing I know is I want to fight as fast as possible,” Murzakanov said to Sanko. “I have waited too long for this, and now I have to catch up for the time I have lost. As busy as the UFC can keep me, I am ready.”

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