It takes skill and training to make good fights, but when it comes to getting people to watch them, captivating back stories go a long way.
Fortunately for us, tonights Dana Whites Contender Series 10 event seems to provide all of the above.
In a preview of the five-fight card, which streams on UFC Fight Pass from The Ultimate Fighter Gym in Las Vegas, we got to hear from the protagonists of the two main bouts about what drives them to fight.
Now-retired UFC champion Michael Bisping and fellow cageside commentator Brendan Fitzgerald,as well as DWCS on-site reporter Laura Sanko, helped break down the UFC hopefuls’ skills.Headliner Yazan Hajeh (6-0) is a Palestinian-born 10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu featherweight who was raised in Kansas City, Mo., but he currently lives in Las Vegas. While he boasts an undefeated professional record, his career wasnt always that bright; in fact, he lost four or five fights out of the six that kicked off his path in MMA.
After the rough stretch, though, Hajeh made some serious changes: He took a year off, quit his job, quit school and turned fighting into, pretty much, his everything.
To think that I had lost so many fights in a row and had gotten written off by so many, and to be here today? Hajeh said. I feel like Ive done everything Im supposed to and last thing is to get that UFC contract.Opponent Matt Sayles (6-1), wants to provide a better future for his family after losing his dad to alcoholism when he was only 10. With addiction to alcohol and drugs running in his family, Sayles found in fighting a way to channel all the anger and frustration that he had to deal with growing up.
With the sole loss of his pro run coming via split decision, Sayles is a finish-driven striker who’s looking for a quick knockout tonight. He represents widely respected Alliance MMA, led by Eric Del Fierro and home to UFC notables like former champion Dominick Cruz, which Bisping takes as a good sign.
If Team Alliance are putting you out there and theyre touting you, expect big things from this man, Bisping said.In the middleweight co-headliner, Jordan Wright (9-0) looks to add another win to an undefeated record that, so far, features exclusively finishes. If youre looking for the next superstar, Wright said, look no further than him: “The Beverly Hills Ninja.
Wright started on his martial arts path early, at 9, and was hooked immediately. It was his mothers request, however, that he finish his studies before pursuing a fighting career.
So I got my college degree, graduated cum laudeand went immediately pro after, Wright said. I feel like I was put on this Earth to fight. Everyone leaves their mark on this Earth, and I feel like I was put here to leave my mark through martial arts.He meets a fellow unbeaten 185-pounder in Anthony Hernandez (6-0), whos here to (expletive) it up. Hernandez, 24, started his fighting career mostly out of boredom: With not much to do in the town where he grew up, he and his buddies would beat up each other.
“Fluffy” Hernandez found early support in his career from his father, who sadly passed away from a lung condition in March. Hernandez, he said, wouldnt be fighting if it weren’t for him.
My dad was my whole support system, Hernandez said, tearing up.
Fluffy, however, his now invested on making sure he continues the job they started together and that starts with Wright.
While Bisping had no shortage of praise for Wrights skills, as well as his incredible nickname, the ex-champ also knows how powerful Hernandezs motivation can be.
My father played an instrumental part in my career, Bisping said. Had he been out on his death bed and for his dying wish to be that I fight in the UFC, man, it would take something very very special to stop me. This is a very very motivated individual.”Lastly, Sanko gave us the latest on a familiar name: Ryan Spann (13-5), who meets Emiliano Sordi (16-6) in a light heavyweight match. Spann is not new to the DWCS; he lost to now-UFC-fighter Karl Roberson in a mere 15 seconds at the third event.
That loss, Sanko said, caused a devastated Spann to be in bed for weeks, before advice from his young son helped him out of his funk.Now, 10 months and three first-round finish wins later, Spann is ready for a new shot at a UFC contract.
He says in retrospect that loss is the best thing that could have happened to him and he does not plan on squandering this second opportunity, Sanko said.
To watch the full preview show, check out the video above.And for more onDana Whites Contender Series 10, visit theUFC Rumorssection of the site.