The first season of Dana Whites Tuesday Night Contenders Series (DWTNCS) was by all indications a home run. As some of the UFC’s older models continue to decay, most notably The Ultimate Fighter, the UFC and the fans alike have been in search of a something new. DWTNCS not only filled the void left by The Ultimate Fighter but it did so by delivering one of the best UFC products in recent memory.
The contender series is a genius show with endless potential for the UFC. By delivering weekly quality fights the UFC keeps fans engaged while using the platform to introduce potential future stars. The format — you only get a UFC contract if you impress Dana — is perfectly set up to create action-packed, entertaining fights and as we saw in the first season, the show rarely failed to deliver.
As we await the debut of the second season of Dana Whites Tuesday Night Contenders Series, I thought I would take the time to look back on the standout fighters from season one.
Three – Julio Arce
Next Fight: TBD
Although Julio Arce didn’t earn a contract on the night of his appearance on the contenders series, he was still given a shot in the UFC as a result of his performance on the show. Julio is a great example of how being successful on the contenders series doesn’t necessarily have to happen by winning the contract on the night. By winning his fight impressively and making himself known to the UFC match matchers, Julio Arce ensured that his shot in the UFC would eventuate — making his UFC debut in January of this year, five months after his fight on the contenders series. Julio is now 2-0 in the UFC and is shaping up to be one of the most intriguing up-and-comers in the Featherweight division.
Two – Julian Marquez
As the owner of the shows most impressive KO, so far, Julian Marquez is without a doubt one of the biggest standouts from the contenders series. With a 7-1 record that consists of six KO/TKO finishes and one submission, Julian Marquez is a powerful, well rounded and extremely exciting Middleweight. Since earning the contract on the fourth episode of the show, Marquez has made only one UFC appearance in which he earned the fight of the night award. Although he is clearly a can’t miss fighter when it comes to entertainment and excitement, we are yet to see him tested against quality UFC level opponents. That being said, Marquez will likely provide some answers when he faces Alessio Di Chirco at The Ultimate Fighter 27 Finale next month.
One – Sean O’Malley
Next Fight: TBD
If no other fighter from season one panned out in the UFC, the show would still be a big success for the introduction of Sean O’Malley alone. It is extremely difficult to identify and define what makes a fighter a star. Many people choose to simplify the process by narrowing the definition down to phrases like ‘it factor’, for the purpose of time I will do the same. Whatever the ‘it factor’ is, Sean O’Malley has it. In and out of the cage, O’Malley has the natural ability to captivate an audience. His fun, loose style makes him endlessly entertaining in the cage, but he is far from just entertaining. At only 23 years of age, Sugar Sean has the potential to not only grow into a big star but one of the best Bantamweights in the world.