Contender Series: On three days’ notice, an undefeated fighter will take his shot


It will be hard for Dana White’s Contender Series to top last week.

In the eighth episode of the show’s fourth season, all four fights ended in KO/TKOs and every winner won a UFC contract. The athletes on Tuesday’s edition of DWCS will attempt to continue that run.

With just one episode remaining after Tuesday, this season has already been historic with 30 fighters earning UFC contracts thus far.

Episode 9 of Season 4 takes place on Tuesday at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. Five fights in five weight classes begin at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN+. Here are three fighters to look out for:

Natan Levy, a very short-notice fill-in

On Friday, Levy thought he was in for a normal weekend. One day later, though, he found out he was getting the call. Landon Quiñones had tested positive for COVID-19, and a new opponent for Shaheen Santana was needed for Contender Series. Levy, a Las Vegas resident and Syndicate MMA product, jumped at the chance. He was able to make weight Monday morning and is in place on extremely short notice for the bout. Normally a featherweight, Levy will compete at a 160-pound catchweight against Santana. Levy, an Israel native, is 5-0 and has looked strong in LFA. He has only been an MMA pro since 2018, but Syndicate MMA coach John Wood is high on him.

Stephanie Frausto, sister of an ex-champ

Frausto’s sister and longtime training partner, Zoila, was the first Bellator women’s champion back in 2010. Stephanie Frausto, 30, has been a pro since then, but has fought only intermittently over the last decade due to injuries. Now, she is on the best streak of her career, winning three straight. The kickboxing standout is the former King of the Cage women’s strawweight champion and has two recent TKO wins under the Combate Americas banner. Frausto is far better than her 8-6 record, especially lately. On Tuesday, she will face Brazilian prospect Luana Pinheiro.

Danny Sabatello, collegiate wrestling standout

“The Italian Gangster” makes his living by shooting — for takedowns, that is. The Chicago native is a three-time national Division I wrestling qualifier at Purdue. He has adapted those skills for MMA, en route to winning the Titan FC bantamweight title earlier this year. Sabatello trains under coach Mike Brown at American Top Team, so he will be well prepared going into this bout with Taylor Moore. Sabatello has just one career loss, to current UFC fighter Irwin Rivera, and has finished seven of his eight pro wins.

Tuesday’s fight schedule

Middleweight: Mariusz Ksiazkiewicz vs. Mario Sousa

Catchweight (160 pounds): Shaheen Santana vs. Natan Levy

Lightweight: Joseph Lowry vs. Nikolas Motta

Women’s strawweight: Luana Pinheiro vs. Stephanie Frausto

Bantamweight: Danny Sabatello vs. Taylor Moore

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