LAS VEGAS – MMA Junkie was on scene reporting live from Tuesday’s Dana White’s Contender Series 53 event.

Dana White’s Contender Series cards see prospects fighting for the opportunity to sign a UFC deal, with UFC president Dana White on hand to make the decisions.

The seventh week of the sixth season saw 10 fighters compete for their shot at a UFC contract. Light heavyweights took center stage in the feature bout as Rodolfo Bellato (8-2) faced Vitor Petrino (7-0), which also happened to produce the most violent finish of the evening. In the second round, Petrino landed the left hand to put Bellato out cold for one of only two finishes on this week’s card.

At the conclusion of the show, White issued contracts to Petrino, Karl Williams, and the winning brothers, Ismael and Gabriel Bonfim.

The UFC Apex hosted Tuesday’s card, which streamed live on ESPN+. The full results of Dana White’s Contender Series 53 include:

MAIN CARD (ESPN+, 8 p.m. ET)

  • Vitor Petrino def. Rodolfo Bellato via knockout (punch) – Round 2, 3: 36
  • Gabriel Bonfim def. Trey Waters via submission (Von Flue choke) – Round 1, 4: 13
  • Karl Williams def. Jimmy Lawson via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
  • Ismael Bonfim def. Nariman Abbasov via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
  • Tereza Bleda def. Nayara Maia via unanimous decision (30-26, 30-26, 30-26)

Continue reading below for more details about each fight.

Tereza Bleda vs. Nayara Maia

The early striking from Maia was met with a quick takedown from Bleda. Both fighters attacked leg locks for a moment, but after scrambling for position, Bleda ended up on top in full guard. Maia was active from her back with submissions, but Bleda maintained top position and landed a few strikes until a wild scramble before the end of the round.

The ringside doctor checked on Maia’s vision between rounds, but the fight continued. After exchanging a couple of strikes, Maia brought the fight to the mat. Bleda worked back to her feet and began landing sharp jabs before reversing a takedown and taking top position. She landed a few heavy close strikes while keeping top control until the round concluded.

Bleda’s sharp punching prompted another takedown attempt, but Maia found herself working from her back. Similar to the first two rounds, Bleda maintained top control while landing short strikes and shutting down submission attempts. Maia got back to her feet momentarily but was put back down from strikes, nearly causing the referee to stop the fight. However, it would see the final horn with Bleda on top.

Result: Tereza Bleda def. Nayara Maia via unanimous decision (30-26, 30-26, 30-26)


Photos: Dana White’s Contender Series 53: Best photos from Las Vegas


Records: Tereza Bleda (6-0), Nayara Maia (7-1-1)


Division: Flyweight


Broadcast:  ESPN+


Referee: Mark Smith

Ismael Bonfim vs. Nariman Abbasov

These two wasted little time getting after it with hard punches. Furious exchanges were early in this one, but Bonfim’s shots to the body were the difference maker. Abbasov was knocked to the mat by a hard punch, but got back to his feet to clinch. Bonfim kept the pressure high, continuing to go to the body, as Abbasov fired back until the end of a high-paced opening round.

The action continued in the second, with Bonfirm leading exchanges consisting of punches upstairs and to the body. Abbasov hung tough and returned fire, but his best attempts were blocked or evaded. Another strong round for Bonfim.

Abbasov circled on the outside as Bonfim continued to control the range and pace of the fight. Abbasov charged forward in the closing moments hoping to change the fight’s outcome, but Bonfim was quick to evade and return fire. One takedown in the closing moments sealed the performance for Bonfim.

Result: Ismael Bonfim def. Nariman Abbasov via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)


Photos: Dana White’s Contender Series 53: Best photos from Las Vegas


Records: Ismael Bonfim (18-3), Nariman Abbasov (28-4)


Division: Lightweight


Broadcast:  ESPN+


Referee: Herb Dean

Jimmy Lawson vs. Karl Williams

After both offered early strikes on the feet, Williams secured a big takedown to slow things down and take top control. Lawson worked back to his feet, but Williams maintained control and brought his opponent back to the mat to control him on the canvas for the remainder of the round.

Williams found the opening for a takedown after charging forward with punches and brought Lawson back down to the ground. After controlling from the top for a couple of minutes, Lawson was able to reverse. Williams attempted to escape the position and Lawson jumped on a leg lock attempt, but it wasn’t there.

Lawson turned up the aggression in the final round, but couldn’t quite find the range he needed to change the course of the fight before Williams secured another takedown. From there, it was one-way traffic. Williams kept top position and shut down any hopes of Lawson pulling off a comeback win.

Result: Karl Williams def. Jimmy Lawson via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)


Photos: Dana White’s Contender Series 53: Best photos from Las Vegas


Records: Jimmy Lawson (4-2), Karl Williams (7-1)


Division: Heavyweight


Broadcast:  ESPN+


Referee: Mark Smith

Gabriel Bonfim vs. Trey Waters

Punches flew early and often to start this one. Despite being at a reach disadvantage, Bonfim had no problem finding the chin of Waters. After exchanging punches with the taller Waters, Bonfim changed levels for a takedown. Waters countered with a guillotine choke, but Bonfim was able to get to side control and lock in the Von Flue and force a tap. Bonfim was impressive on the feet and on the mat.

Result: Gabriel Bonfim def. Trey Waters via submission (Von Flue choke) – Round 1, 4: 13


Photos: Dana White’s Contender Series 53: Best photos from Las Vegas


Records: Gabriel Bonfim (13-0), Trey Waters (6-1)


Division: Welterweight


Broadcast:  ESPN+


Referee: Herb Dean

Rodolfo Bellato vs. Vitor Petrino

A few heavy punches were traded early, with Petrino winging big hooks. Bellato looked for a takedown, but was reversed. Bellato attempted a triangle, but was lifted and slammed to the canvas for his submission effort. Back on the feet, Petrino continued work behind a powerful jab, but Bellato connected on a hard right hand. Petrino wobbled to the canvas and Bellato jumped on his back. A moment later, Petrino reversed position and ended the round on top.

Petrino came out firing, leading to Bellato slowing things down with a clinch. After separating, Petrino continued to let his hands go often. Bellato attempted a spinning backfist, but Petrino saw it coming and landed a beautiful counter to put his opponent out cold.

Result: Vitor Petrino def. Rodolfo Bellato via knockout (punch) – Round 2,


Photos: Dana White’s Contender Series 53: Best photos from Las Vegas


Records: Rodolfo Bellato (8-2), Vitor Petrino (7-0)


Division: Light heavyweight


Broadcast:  ESPN+


Referee: Mark Smith

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