The Dana White Contender Series (DWCS) continues to prove itself as the UFC’s most productive breeding ground for MMA’s top prospects. Three of the promotions’ most promising newcomers, each a product of the DWCS, will compete on the undercard this weekend at UFC 266. If you don’t normally watch the preliminary card, perhaps this weekend should be the exception. Not only will the undercard feature established stars such as Dan Hooker and Marlon Moraes, but joining them will be several talented up-and-comers you don’t want to miss. 

 

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – NOVEMBER 17: Nick Maximov reacts after his victory over Oscar Cota in a heavyweight bout during Dana White’s Contender Series season four week ten at UFC APEX on November 17, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/DWCS LLC/Zuffa LLC)

Nick Maximov

The Nick Diaz Army has occupied the battlefield. The Commanding General himself will return to the cage after a 6-year hiatus, this time accompanied by perhaps the youngest soldier among his troops. 

A protégé of Stockton’s Nick Diaz Academy, 23 year-old Nick Maximov will make his UFC debut on the early prelims this Saturday. All you need to know about the toughness of Maximov is that he’s a natural middleweight who earned his UFC contract by defeating a heavyweight who outweighed him by 52 pounds. In true Stockton fashion, Maximov weighed in for that fight at 209 pounds.  

Much like his mentors, the Diaz brothers, Maximov has a strong grappling foundation and an unrelenting work ethic. Maximov, a former collegiate wrestler and BJJ brown belt, has a professional record of 6-0, with 3 submissions, 2 knockouts, and 1 decision. This time around, Stockton’s newest slugger will compete at 185 pounds against fellow newcomer and last minute replacement, Cody Brundage. 

War Ready

Maximov was originally slated to face a more tenured opponent in Karl Roberson, before Roberson was forced to withdraw from the bout due to illness. Fortunately for Maximov, the show will go on with Brundage (6-1). 

What could have been a dangerous first day in the office, may have just taken a favorable turn for Maximov. Given the circumstances, the odds would now appear to be in favor of the Californian. If Maximov can get the job done, a victory coupled with the excitement of fighting alongside his teammate and mentor are factors that will amount to a memorable debut for Stockton’s prodigy. 

Witness the outcome by enjoying the action live this weekend on the early prelims.

 

Uroš Medić earns his first UFC victory via ground and pound TKO. (Photo by Chris Unger:Zuffa LLC)

Uroš Medič

UFC athletes, like competitors in any professional sport, earn the interest of fans in a variety of ways. Some fighters gain status simply by dominating inside of the cage. Some athletes cater to the theatrical demands of the entertainment business. Others, occasionally in addition to the methods previously mentioned, capture the admiration of an audience simply by being themselves. 

Every once in a while the UFC introduces the world to somebody special, someone with the ability to harness the respect of fans by being a great fighter, and in this case, someone people can relate to, and draw inspiration from.  

This is different from stardom. These are individuals who excel at their craft while actively striving for personal growth through the practice of martial arts. These are true ambassadors of the sport. 

What we have on our hands is the perfect example of that in Uroš Medić. Born in Novi Sad, Serbia, Medić, the 28 year-old lightweight prospect will make his second appearance at UFC 266 on the preliminary card against Jalin Turner. 

Medić’s promotional debut took place in March of this year, in which he landed a flying knee, followed by ground and pound for an exciting TKO finish. Leading up to his inaugural fight in March, Medić provided a glimpse of his personality while sharing his values and motivations in an interview (featured below).

 

Fans’ Favorite Doctor

After more than a decade of training, Medić currently finds himself at Kings MMA in California, where he continues to refine his skills under the tutelage of Master Rafael Cordeiro. The undefeated phenom has 7 professional wins, and all but one have come by first round stoppage. Medić is a former champion of Serbia Kickboxing K-1, and an Alaska State champion in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. He’s powerful, precise, and fights with an exuberance that lets his spectators know how much he enjoys performing for them. 

Despite all of this, what stands out most about Medić is the manner in which he behaves outside of the octagon. When he speaks, it’s obvious that he’s aware and proud of who he is, and where he comes from. There’s a personable and authentic nature about him, which makes you want to follow his martial arts journey, and thus, the sport as a whole. 

It’s true that Medić, also known as “The Doctor”, has a reputation for putting his patients to sleep. There’s no question about how exciting of a competitor he is. However, it would appear that the talented and still developing Medić has more to offer than power and precision. As we continue to get to know him, it should become apparent to the MMA community that we’ve got something special on our hands. This weekend Uroš Medić will continue to earn our enthusiasm, simply by being himself. 

Another spectacular KO finish probably wouldn’t hurt his case, either.

 

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – DECEMBER 19: In this handout image provided by UFC, (R-L) Taila Santos of Brazil punches Gillian Robertson of Canada in a flyweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on December 19, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Cooper Neill/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

Taila Santos

Sporting one of the most impressive records on this fight card is the latest threat to the women’s flyweight division. On Saturday night, Taila Santos (17-1 MMA, 2-1 UFC), ranked #12, will challenge #9 ranked Roxanne Modafferi (25-19 MMA, 4-6 UFC) for a place in the top 10 rankings.  

This will be the second time this fight was scheduled, as Modafferi was previously forced to withdraw from their initial bout in May due to injury. 

Still only 28 years of age, Santos has nearly 20 professional fights, and has lost only one, by split decision. In her last appearance, Santos dominated Gillian Robertson over 3 rounds for a unanimous decision win. 

In With the New?

Despite having 10 knockouts and 2 submissions under her belt, Santos has so far gone the distance in each of her UFC appearances. Similarly, Modafferi has escaped the judges scorecards only once in her 10 fights under the UFC banner. 

Ten years her elder, Modafferi will be the most experienced opponent Santos has faced yet. While we may not be in for the most traditionally exciting matchup, we will get to witness two similar styles clash, and if her last two performances are any indication, it’s Santos who will have the momentum on her side. 

As the question often goes when two generations collide: Will the young lion have what it takes to defeat her aging counterpart?

 

By Jared Moehring

Growing up, I was never a big fan of other professional sports. While most kids inherited the NFL, NBA, and MLB teams rooted for by their tribes, I found joy in watching old Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan movies. At the age of 13 I fell in love with the sport of wrestling, and that same year I watched my first ever MMA event, UFC 151: Brock Lesnar vs Cain Velasquez. My eyes glued to the TV in awe as the smaller man imposed his superior wrestling, which ultimately led to a TKO victory for Velasquez. As they say, the rest was history; I was hooked. Throughout the years, I've grown from "casual fan" to "doesn't miss a single round from early prelims to the main event." However, when I'm not creating or indulging in fight-content here in my home of Omaha, Nebraska, I enjoy camping and and exploring various national parks and forests throughout the country. Get to know me on Instagram: @jaredmoehring, or email me with any inquiries: jaredmoehring@gmail.com. Cheers!

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