LAS VEGAS – Five years and six seasons into its existence, Dana White’s Contender Series has handed out nearly 200 UFC contracts.
And UFC president White thinks the series might one day soon hit the next level. The prospect search show currently airs on ESPN+, the streaming platform of UFC broadcast partner ESPN.
White said DWCS has become a major success for the UFC.
“The Contender Series has been massive for us,” White said after UFC 282 this past Saturday in Las Vegas. “It’s been an incredible way to showcase up-and-coming talent. … It’s one of the best shows we’ve ever done. Much like the ‘Lookin’ for a Fight’ show, these kids come in, they’re unknown, they don’t even fight in the UFC yet, and millions of people know who they are before they ever (get to the UFC) .”
One of the UFC’s recent contract winners from DWCS was Raul Rosas Jr., who is just 18 – and was 17 when he fought on the show in September. This past Saturday, Rosas (7-0 MMA, 1-0 UFC) made his UFC debut at UFC 282 and submitted Jay Perrin in the first round. He became the youngest fighter to win his debut in UFC history.
“This is this kid’s first fight,” White said. “Did you hear the place tonight? It was crazy. That’s the power of the Contender Series. This season of the Contender Series is the first time ever we were trending worldwide on social media because of Contender fights. The show continues to grow.
“Our contract’s coming up here with ESPN, and when we do our next deal I think you’ll see the Contender Series on linear television.”
The UFC and ESPN started a five-year deal in 2019, which would make 2023 the final year of the deal. A two-year extension was reportedly signed early on.
Big UFC names who came out of DWCS include upcoming vacant light heavyweight title challenger Jamahal Hill, Sean O’Malley, Maycee Barber, Geoff Neal, Don’Tale Mayes, Brendan Allen, Sean Woodson and Johnny Walker.
Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie