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Dana White’s Contender Series 2021 Week 1 preview and prediction

Dana White's Contender Series 2021 Week 1 preview and prediction


Dana White’s Contender Series 2021 Week 1 kicks off Tuesday from the UFC APEX.

The fifth season of Dana White’s Contender Series kicks off this Tuesday from the UFC APEX in Las Vegas, NV. Last year, 35 UFC contracts were handed out across 11 divisions, with the most signings being UFC middleweights.

The first installment of the 2021 season features four weight classes, and three undefeated fighters looking to make an impression on UFC president Dana White, and earn themselves a contract.

The event is headlined by a light heavyweight tilt between undefeated Russian fighter Azamat Murzakanov and Brazillian Matheus Scheffel.


Let’s take a look at the Dana White’s Contender Series week one card.

AJ Fletcher vs. Leonardo Damiani preview

The first of four bouts is a welterweight tilt between undefeated American AJ Fletcher, who takes on Italian Leonardo Damiani’s streaking.

Fletcher is 8-0 as a pro, with seven of his eight wins coming by way of stoppage. Fletcher has fought the majority of his career on the southeast regional scene. His most recent fight came in European promotion, AKA, as he defeated Ariel Juarez by way of first-round submission.

His opponent is Leonardo Damiani, who is a 10-2-1 fighter coming out of Italy. Damiani has fought most of his career on the European circuit, with wins in Cage Warriors and Parus FC.

Damiani is the slight betting underdog in this match-up and may be outmatched against the well-rounded and dangerous Fletcher.


Prediction: Fletcher by first-round submission, contract acquired.

Victor Altamirano vs. Carlos Candelario preview

The second bout of the night is a men’s flyweight contest between Mexican LFA stand-out Victor Altamirano and Contender Series returnee Carlos Candelario.

The thirty-year-old Altamirano holds a 9-1 record and has put together a three-fight win streak since returning to the LFA in early 2020. Altamirano takes on the undefeated Candelario, who has four wins by five wins by stoppage in his career.

Candelario appeared on the 2017 season of Dana White’s Contender Series, picking up the decision win over Ronaldo Candido, but did not secure a contract.

This fight might be the most entertaining of the four-fight card, but that doesn’t ensure either fighter will be given a contract. This fight likely goes the distance in what should be a highly entertaining contest.


Prediction: Altamirano by decision, no contract.

Diego Lopes vs. Joanderson Brito preview

The third fight of the night is a men’s featherweight match-up between two Brazilians. Diego Lopes comes in with a 19-3 record, fighting the majority of his career on the Mexican and South American professional MMA circuit. Lopes holds an 89% finish rate in his career, with 11 wins by submission and five by knockout.

His opponent is the 26-year-old Joanderson Brito. Brito is 11-2-1 in his professional career but hasn’t fought since May of 2019. The Chute Boxe product, Brito, made his United States debut at LFA 65 in 2019, disposing of Jose Mariscal in just 44 seconds. However, Brito’s inactivity puts him in an unfavorable position Lopes, who had almost a two-year layoff of his own before returning to the cage in March of this year.

Lopes still has kinks to his game, but with the long layoff for Brito, Lopes should come in as the sharper of the two fighters. Brito throws very heavy shots and is incredibly dangerous off of his back, but in a battle of two very evenly matched featherweights, the advantage should go to the more well-rounded Lopes.

Prediction: Lopes by first-round submission, contract acquired.


Azamat Murzakanov vs. Matheus Scheffel preview

The main event of the evening sees undefeated Russian Azamat Murzakanov take on the Brazillian Matheus Scheffel in a bout between two hard-hitting light heavyweights.

Murzakanov is fighting out of the New Jersey gym K-Dojo Warrior Tribe, which has become a home for numerous transplant Russian fighters trying to start fighting careers in North America.

Murzakanov will make his United States debut on Tuesday night and has not fought since November 2019, when he won the Brave CF open weight Grand Prix.

As for his opponent, Scheffel is the former Future FC light heavyweight champion and will also be making his US debut on Tuesday night.

While Scheffel is a very dangerous striker, he has shown a tendency to let fights get away from him down the stretch. Should this fight get past the opening stages, it will swing heavily in favor of Murzakanov, who has the hitting power to end the fight where ever it goes.


Prediction: Murzakanov by first-round KO, contract acquired.

Follow along with FanSided MMA for all your Dana White Contender Series news and highlights. We’ll be cageside bringing you live updates, results, and backstage interviews.