UFC President Dana White is always on the lookout for the next big thing in mixed martial arts.
He had his show “Looking for a Fight” but that required him to travel around the country to local shows in search of talent.
I don’t think he really has the time for that anymore.
It’s much easier for the Las Vegas resident to cruise over to the Apex facility from the crib in minutes than it is hopping planes and having to listen to Matt Serra somehow continually raise his voice for days on end.
White holds 5 fights every Tuesday night during the season on UFC Fight Pass and picks 1 or maybe 2 of the winners to be awarded multi-fight contracts with the world’s leading MMA promotion.
I have to be honest with you guys. I kinda ignored the Contender Series for its first couple of seasons.
That was a huge mistake because there was a boatload of talented fighters who came from the show.
I had to go back and do the research on a lot of these guys while my colleagues were a step ahead.
We are all over it this season!
Some true studs and studettes have come from the Contender Series.
It feels so weird to say that. I can remember the Contender Series Asia with John Wayne Parr and Yodsanklai Fairtex.
That was kinda like The Ultimate Fighter show with Muay Thai guys so it was much more respectful.
Here is a quick list of top prospects, many with very high ceilings that have earned their UFC contracts on the first three seasons of Dana White’s Contender Series.
- Sean O’Malley
- Casey Kenney
- Geoff Neal
- Dan Ige
- Julian Marquez
- Alex Perez
- Grant Dawson
- Kevin Holland
- Ryan Spahn
- Jalin Turner
- Edmen Shahbazyan
- Maycee Barber
- Sodiq Yusuff
- Jimmy Crute
- Brendan Allen
- Tracy Cortez
- Herbert Burns
We have 5 fights on this week’s Contender Series card.
Today, let’s look at the matchup between Las Vegas local Jordan Leavitt and Texan, Jose Flores.
BetOnline.AG has the odds for us.
Let’s make a prediction.
Jordan Leavitt (-185) vs Jose Flores (+155)
There aren’t any round total betting odds currently listed, and I get it.
Both fighters are very dangerous for different reasons and it’s hard to get a read on how long this one will last.
I am actually quite familiar with “The Monkey King” Jordan Leavitt.
He started training in mixed martial arts at Syndicate MMA in Vegas about the same time I got there in 2013.
Wow, he is 25 now so that would make him 18 then.
I never thought he was that young. I assumed maybe 21 or 22 when he was starting out.
Already a very experienced grappler and Nevada state champion wrestler, the eclectic Jordan began his foray in the striking realm on his MMA journey.
Not every fighter on the MMA team would come to Muay Thai practice as we were learning Muay Thai for Muay Thai not Thai for MMA.
Jordan was in there from day one.
I remember he always sparred within himself and focused heavily on defense for his first year or so.
Then, he started getting creative and landing some good shots from strange angles and he became harder and harder to hit.
As far as striking with guys my size there, I did pretty well and always got the best of Jordan for years.
By the time I left the gym in 2017, he had completely figured out my style.
He wasn’t beating me with speed, power, pace or even timing. The guy had me figured out better than anyone ever had.
If you watch his striking on a bag or pads, you don’t think he is that good but man, he was punching me on top of the head.
I remember the coaches laughing and I had no choice but to laugh along with them because it was like I was handcuffed.
I’ve felt like that on the ground a million times but never really in a striking match.
I’ve seen Leavitt tough out of guillotines from Jake Shields!
Leavitt has a very funky style of grappling to go along with his unpredictable striking,
The kid is a showman in the cage as well. He has the IT factor for sure.
One concern is that Jordan is not a big lightweight at all!
He is a 45er whose natural weight class when cutting UFC-level weight would probably be 140 pounds.
I favor him if the fight goes to the ground for sure.
Leavitt’s opponent, Jose Flores, is a very good Muay Thai striker.
He is also a big boy at 6’ tall for 155 pounds.
Jordan is just 5’9.
Flores isn’t undefeated like the 6-0 Leavitt but he does have 10 fights with just one defeat.
Jose has actually got his shot on Dana White’s Contender Series already around this time in 2017.
He had a tough draw, though, with Matt Frevola.
What a gamer! He isn’t the most skilled fighter in any one art but you aren’t going to find many fighters tougher with a larger gas tank than Frevola.
If you know Matt is fighting a guy with a lazy style like Luis Pena, who he beat with pace and heart, I would look at betting him.
He will probably be an underdog most of the time but that dude will fight for your money. That’s for sure.
The southpaw Flores caught Frevola with some wicked body kicks early on but the daywalker fighting out of Tampa, FL just internalized it and somehow became stronger.
Outside of his loss to Frevola, though, Flores has not fought anyone of note.
His other 9 opponents he has faced in his career have a combined record of 31-30 and the two most recent guys are 5-4 and 1-3, “respectively”.
You beat a 1-3 fighter when you’re 8-1 and you get a shot at a UFC contract…
It doesn’t really sound fair but beating guys below you doesn’t mean you suck. It just means you have yet to prove that you don’t suck.
Jordan is funky on the feet and with Jose being a very technical fighter, that could mess with his game.
It did me for sure. I’m about the same height as Flores but he has a little more muscle. The dude has trained all over Thailand as well.
Jose is no slouch and the UFC knows they have an exciting fighter on their hands. He is just gonna have to stay on his feet to show it.
I just don’t think that’s going to happen.
The combined record of his opponents is only 12-2, 18-3 if you include the ammy level.
Maybe Leavitt hasn’t fought a guy with a ton of experience but I’ve seen him roll with Nate Diaz, Jake Shields, and Gilbert Melendez back-to-back-to-back and do fine.
This is a very tough matchup for him because Jose is a dangerous opponent but Leavitt will likely get this fight to the ground and secure a submission in the first or second round.
It takes a special kind of savage to be a quiet nerdy Mormon kid at 18 walking into a place like Syndicate where head coach John Wood was dating Jenna Jameson at the time.
He has been a pro since day one. Here’s a quote of his that suits him well.
“You’ll never see another fighter like me. I’m an innovator and I’m able to pull things off that other fighters can’t. Fighting is art… I’m a Picasso. I’m a tad bit “abstract”.
I am psyched the Contender Series is back and I will keep you guys tuned in tightly for each week’s action.
This week, we have Bellator on Friday and another UFC Fight Night from the Apex on Saturday.
Lots of fun to be had and more importantly, there is lots of money to be made.
I would have liked to get Jordan at (-150) or so but I’m very confident in this kid if you didn’t notice.
He is 25 now and beat me up years ago so I think we can call him a man now.
His opponent, Jose Flores, is a very twitchy southpaw who has trained with the Thais.
I am definitely a fan of his style and from what I have seen from tape, these are the two most skilled fighters fighting on Tuesday.
Don’t miss this fight and don’t miss an opportunity to make some money.
Bet directly from this article and I will see you guys back here soon for more fight picks!