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Wednesday, January 19, 2022

For second straight week, five fighters walk away with UFC contracts

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11:00 PM ET

  • okamoto brett

    Brett OkamotoESPN Staff Writer

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    • MMA columnist for ESPN.com
    • Analyst for “MMA Live”
    • Covered MMA for Las Vegas Sun

The UFC awarded another five contracts on Dana White’s Contender Series on Tuesday, a night highlighted by two sub-minute knockouts.

Welterweight Josh Quinlan (6-0) and flyweight C.J. Vergara (9-2) stole the show at the Apex in Las Vegas in the second consecutive week that the UFC elected to award contacts to five fighters. Quinlan, of Hawaii, defeated Logan Urban via knockout in just 47 seconds. Vergara, of Texas, needed just 41 seconds to knock out Bruno Korea.

“It’s great matchmaking, and these kids are showing up and fighting hard,” White said. “I notice the difference between trying to squeak out a win and fighting hard and wanting to be here. I will reward you when you do.”

Quinlan’s opponent, Urban, accepted the fight just this week after Quinlan’s original opponent withdrew. White credited Urban for stepping up, but the UFC president was still impressed with the undefeated Quinlan’s performance — and for good reason. Quinlan stunned Urban with an early right hand before putting him away with a flurry along the fence.

Vergara’s performance was arguably even better, as he was actually the betting underdog going into his bout against Korea. Vergara looked like anything but an underdog, hurting Korea immediately with punches before knocking him out with a devastating knee to the liver.

It was the fastest knockout on the Contender Series since Adrian Yanez finished Brady Huang in 39 seconds in August 2020.

“This kid has five wins in a row, five knockouts,” White said. “He absolutely destroyed a real guy tonight and he was a 2-to-1 underdog in this fight. You couldn’t look any more impressive than this kid looked tonight. He’s got to be on top of the world.”

Rounding out Tuesday’s signings were middleweight Chidi Njokuani (20-7), who is the younger brother of former UFC lightweight Anthony Njokuani, as well as a couple of bantamweights, Saimon Oliveira (18-3) and Chad Anheliger (11-5).

Njokuani, who fights out of Las Vegas, turned in a well-rounded performance against Mario Sousa en route to a third-round TKO finish. Oliveira persevered in a hard-fought split decision against Jose Alday. And in the surprise of the evening, Anheliger upset Muin Gafurov after overcoming some bad grappling positions early in the fight.


Tuesday night’s results

Welterweight: Josh Quinlan def. Logan Urban by first-round KO (punches, 0:47)

Middleweight: Chidi Njokuani def. Mario Sousa by third-round TKO (punches, 1:35)

Men’s bantamweight: Saimon Oliveira def. Jose Alday by split decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-29)

Men’s flyweight: C.J. Vergara def. Bruno Korea by first-round TKO (knee, 0:41)

Men’s bantamweight: Chad Anheliger def. Muin Gafurov by split decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-29)

Bold = awarded UFC contract

Watch all the fights here.

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