Welcome to our coverage of Dana White’s Contender Series with week three of the current season. Tonight’s card features five fights from the UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The card is highlighted by brothers Louis and Orion Cosce competing in separate fights. Both are welterweights with identical records of 6-0 with all stoppage victories between them.
Dan Hellie and Paul Felder are calling the fights.
*Kenneth Cross def. Kevin Syler by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
*Josh Parisian def. Chad Johnson by TKO at 3:43 of Round 1
*Orion Cosce def. Brian Dixon by TKO at 4:42 of Round 3
*Cheyanne Buys def. Hilarie Rose by unanimous decision (30-27 all)
*Louis Cosce def. Victor Reyna by TKO at 1:12 of Round 1
KENNETH CROSS (10-3, 155.5) VS KEVIN SYLER (10-0, 156) – LIGHTWEIGHT
These two were scheduled to fight two weeks ago on the show but Syler tested positive for COVID-19 and it was delayed by two weeks.
Cross is 25 years old with Michigan Top Team and turned pro in 2016. He’s won his last four fights and is coming off a 69-second stoppage of Robert Hale for the Lights Out Championship organization this past February.
Syler is 27 years old and a native of Bolivia. He is undefeated and fought on the Contender Series in July 2019 earning a decision win against Lance Lawrence, but he missed weight by 6.5 pounds for his featherweight fight. He last fought in December with a triangle submission win against Franco Aranda.
Cross was throwing his left hand early but was unsuccessful with the takedown attempts. Syler got his back but Cross forced him to slide off and took side control. Cross was in his guard and landed an elbow and some strikes at the end. 10-9 Cross
The second round saw Cross with a brief takedown, although Syler used a Whizzer to get up. Cross popped his head out of another guillotine and then worked to mount Syler. It was from this position he landed the best strikes of the round. 10-9 Cross
Both men were tired in the third round. Syler attempted a kimura, which Cross escaped and regained side control. Syler recovered to full guard and got out, taking the back of Cross during a scramble but was too high. Syler had a double-leg takedown and mounted the back landing some strikes at the end. 10-9 Syler and 29-28 for Cross
WINNER: Kenneth Cross by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
It was not the most inspiring performance from either fighter and I would be surprised if Cross was given a contract after this one, although all bets are off after last week. Cross has a good grappling game and defensive traits that subdued the attempts from Syler throughout the fight. It was a battle of exhaustion throughout the third round and I felt Syler did enough the closing minute to take that round.
Cross said he apologized to Dana White because he likes to finish fights.
JOSH PARISIAN (12-3, 265.5) VS CHAD JOHNSON (6-1, 215) – HEAVYWEIGHT
Parisian, 31, fought on the Contender Series in June 2018 defeating Greg Rebello with a spinning back fist. Instead of a contract, he was offered a spot at Ultimate Fighter where he lost to Michel Batista. Since TUF, he has gone 5-1 and won his last five.
Johnson, 34, trains at Roufusport and has been fighting pro for less than three years. He’s coming off a TKO victory against Calyn Hull for LFA last September.
The two were throwing with enormous power. Parisian landed some heavy leg kicks and Johnson responded with one of his own. Johnson went to his back and Parisian took side control and moved to the mount where he dropped shots after an initial elbow until the fight was stopped.
WINNER: Josh Parisian by TKO at 3:43 of Round 1
It was a great performance from Parisian and packs a ton of power and finishing instincts on the ground after immediately going to side control with the quick transition to mount. Parisian said he felt Johnson was better than a lot of the heavyweights in the UFC and was hopeful of getting the contract after two wins on the Contender Series.
ORION COSCE (6-0, 170.5) VS MATT DIXON (9-0, 170.5) – WELTERWEIGHT
The first round was close as Dixon got several takedowns including one where he ducked a big shot with the level change and double leg. Cosce connected with a kick to the body and a left hand, which was the best strike of the round. This could be either man’s round. 10-9 Dixon
Dixon started the second-round landing four strikes. Overall, Cosce had a better round as Dixon got tired. Cosce stopped several takedowns and landed a big left and knees to the body. Dixon worked for the takedown off the fence and took several elbows to the side of the head. 10-9 Cosce
Cosce dominated the third round and had the superior gas tank, which made the difference. Cosce stuffed Dixon’s takedowns and then executed his own. Cosce mounted Dixon and attempted several arm-triangles before locking on a crucifix and drilling Dixon with shots to the head until the referee stopped the fight with 18 seconds remaining in the fight. Cosce was on his way to an easy 10-8 round before the stoppage.
WINNER: Orion Cosce by TKO at 4:42 of Round 3
Cosce was the biggest underdog on the card and it could be a great story if both brothers win their fights tonight. I felt Cosce lost the first round, but it was impressive how well-conditioned he was for the fifteen minutes and did a great job defending the takedowns in the second and third rounds. His pressure on top was something to applaud and there is a lot of upside in Cosce.
CHEYANNE BUYS (4-1, 115.5) VS HILARIE ROSE (4-1, 115.5) – STRAWWEIGHT
Buys, 25, is part of Fortis MMA out of Dallas and fought once for Invicta FC in May 2018 dropping a decision to Helen Peralta. She’s won her last three fights since the Invicta loss and last fought in November defeating Rebecca Adney by decision in LFA.
Rose is 27 years old and turned pro in Feb. 2018 and a BJJ brown belt. After losing her pro debut, she won her next four fights heading into this fight. She has been competing for CES MMA and is coming off a submission win against Kaiyana Rain in July 2019.
The two engaged in a flurry of strikes immediately. Buys used her jab and Rose tried to lock the arm from her back and lost it. Buys’ superior striking was the difference in this round. After a takedown attempt by Rose, Buys landed in half-guard before the full guard was recovered. Buys landed a beautiful combination with her crisp striking. 10-9 Buys
Buys controlled the clinch work against the cage. Rose was cut above her right eye. Buys had success landing with her left hand and cracked her with a right. In the final seconds, Buys mounted her from the back for a strong close. 10-9 Buys
Buys continued to control the fight throughout the third round. When she let her hands go, she had lots of success going to the head and body. Buys started to unload with shots when Rose shot for the takedown allowing Buys the opening to take her back. In the closing seconds, both threw with everything they had. 10-9 Buys and 30-27 overall.
WINNER: Cheyanne Buys by unanimous decision (30-27 all)
This was a strong performance from Buys and a solid prospect at 115 pounds that could mature into a great fighter within the division.
She told Dana White she had been messaging him on Instagram for two years and wanted a reply. Buys has a lot of charisma and came off as a strong personality in both the pre-fight video and her post-match interview with Laura Sanko and has a star quality about her that was evident throughout the night.
LOUIS COSCE (6-0, 170) VS VICTOR REYNA (11-4, 170.5) – WELTERWEIGHT
Cosce is the younger brother of Orion, who fought earlier. The younger Cosce is 6-0 and has never been out of the first round during his pro career. His last fight was in December stopping Art Hernandez in 18 seconds.
Reyna is 34 years old and fought on the Contender Series last year losing to Miguel Baeza by decision. He has been a pro since Feb. 2012 and bounced back from the loss on the Contender Series with a decision win against Nick Gay last November.
Cosce was very aggressive with his strikes as soon as the fight began. He was throwing head kicks and tried for one to the body. Cosce nailed Reyna with a big overhand left that put him down and finished him with follow-up shots to the head.
WINNER: Louis Cosce by TKO at 1:12 of Round 1
This was an impressive stoppage and should guarantee him one of the contracts. This was quite the story with the two brothers coming in and each getting stoppage victories.
DANA WHITE’S VERDICT
Dana White handed out contracts to Josh Parisian, Cheyanne Buys, and both Louis & Orion Cosce.
White was critical that Orion Cosce paused with three seconds remaining in round two and stopped fighting, but he was proven wrong when Cosce finished Matt Dixon in round three.
White was very high on Buys and said she hasn’t entered her prime yet.
He added that Louis Cosce hasn’t had long fights and therefore, haven’t seen a lot of him “but that’s a good problem to have.”
*Jhonoven Pati (6-3) vs. Jamie Pickett (10-4) – Middleweight
*Rafael Alves (18-9) vs. Alejandro Flores (17-2) – Lightweight
*Jeffrey Molina (7-2) vs. Jacob Silva (6-2) – Flyweight
*Anthony Romero (7-0) vs. Mike Breeden (8-2) – Lightweight
*Collin Huckbody (7-2) vs. Kyron Bowen (9-4) – Middleweight