Dana White’s Contender Series, or as it was known as, Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series, is a reputed mixed martial arts related television program. Despite the active involvement of the UFC President, Dana White, in the show, it is not affiliated with UFC. However, Contender Series gets into UFC news, as several participants are offered a contract to fight in UFC.
All the events of the show emanates from the UFC Training Center in Las Vegas, Nevada in the United States. Much like the concept of ‘The Ultimate Fighter’, Dana White’s Contender Series also involves fighters who don’t have any association with UFC. The goal is to scout talents and provide the deserving ones with a platform like UFC. As a result, after every scheduled event, Dana White awards certain performers with UFC contracts.
Dana White’s Contender Series had its premiere on July 11, 2017, and since then, there have been three seasons of the show. Apart from these three seasons, it had a counterpart named ‘Contender Series Brasil’ that debuted in 2018.
The first season of Dana White’s Contender Series kicked off on 11th July 2017 and continued for a span of 8 weeks, till 29th August. Every week, 5 matches take place and the winners are generally in line to gain a UFC contract. In the inaugural episode, the Featherweight division match between Kurt Holobaugh and Matt Bessette was the main event. Holobaugh and Boston Salmon earned the contracts while Zu Anyanwu was awarded a match at UFC Fight Night 116. The following week, Sean O’Malley got the contract for defeating Alfred Khashakyan in a Bantamweight division fight. The other notable fighters who got awarded with UFC contracts during the entirety of the season were, Karl Roberson, Geoffrey Neal, Julian Marquez, Brandon Davis, Mike Rodriguez, Alex Perez, Charles Byrd, Grant Dawson, Benito Lopez, Joby Sanchez, Matt Frevola, Lauren Mueller and Allen Crowder. Some other fighters, while not offered the lucrative contracts, were brought in for certain UFC pay-per-view matches on short notice, UFC Fight Pass matches or signed to developmental deals.
The second season of the Contender Series commenced on June 12, 2018, and yet again the show continued for eight weeks. The format was kept the same. Some reputed fighters who were awarded with UFC contracts include Alonzo Menifield, Greg Hardy, Anthony Hernandez, Ryan Spann, Dwight Grant, Matt Styles, Antonia Shevchenko, Te’Jovan Edwards Roosevelt Roberts, Ian Heinisch, Jordan Griffin, Juan Adams, Devonte Smith, Kennedy Nzechukwu and Bobby Moffett.
UFC schedule for the Series was renewed for a third season, which began on June 18, 2019. This time, however, the show became an exclusive to ESPN+ and the name was altered from Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series to Dana White’s Contender Series. For the first time, it was on-air for ten weeks instead of the usual eight. Punahele Soriano, Yorgan De Castro, Miles Johns, Miguel Baeza, Joseph Solecki, Antonio Trocoli, Hunter Azure, Maki Pitolo, Jonathan Pearce, Aleksa Camur, Aalon Cruz, Tracy Cortez, Duško Todorović, Peter Barrett, T.J. Brown and Rodrigo Nascimento were some of the known names who earned the opportunity at UFC contracts during the third season. The last episode aired on August 27, 2019.