UFC President Dana White’s eponymous Dana White’s Contender Series (DWCS) has become the vehicle of many when chasing their dreams to garner a roster spot with the coveted UFC.
For 29-year-old Jhonoven Pati (6-3), that dream can be realized on the August 25 edition of DWCS.
Pati, the Ring of Combat (ROC) middleweight champion, doesn’t have the flawless record of some other Contender Series prospects, at 6-3. That being said, most Contender Series didn’t start their professional career against a future UFC light heavyweight in Ryan Spann (18-5).
Pati holds wins over the likes of Joseph Pyfer (7-2), who just competed on the Contender Series in a losing effort after a gruesome arm injury, and “The Samoan Savage” has shared the cage with some insane talent on the regional scene.
Beginning his career 4-1, with his only loss to the aforementioned Spann, Pati had a tough road as a prospect in the Legacy Fighting Alliance (LFA), dropping two in a row.
It’s there that Pati’s inclusion on the Contender Series despite a less-than-stellar record begins to make sense. Pati’s losses are to Spann and surging UFC prospect Punahele Soriano (7-0) and Contender Series alumnus Kailan Hill (4-1).
It is abundantly clear that Pati has shared the cage with some gifted fighters, and those losses, while less than ideal, have only made him more prepared for his chance to impress Dana White.
The six-foot-one Pati is a member of StrKings, a small gym out of Texas. Pati is not the only member of the gym competing for a UFC contract, or even the only member of his own family to do so. Pati’s cousin and teammate, Jose Johnson (11-5), who went viral with a vicious elbow at LFA 78, will compete for an elusive UFC contract the following week.
A former standout collegiate athlete, Pati admitted in an interview with this author that it took him a while to get into MMA.
“I didn’t make the NFL, wasn’t big enough,” Pati explained, via MyMMANews. “I was a student-athlete my entire life, so for the last semester before graduation, I wasn’t doing anything in the gym. I’d take the long way to class to avoid seeing the gym. Eating, drinking whatever I wanted, living it up. I was 215 [lbs] when football ended, was at 280 [lbs] at graduation.”
After graduation, Pati found himself shedding weight in the gym, and years later, finds himself set to face off with Contender Series veteran, Jamie Pickett (10-4).
With two previous losses on the Contender Series, one to the aforementioned Soriano, Pickett will look for the chance to finally gain a DWCS victory in front of the UFC President.
“[Pickett] will try to take me down to the ground,” said Pati. “I see myself finishing Jamie, if not late first-round, then early second round. I can break him. Something happened at the end of round one in his [past] Contender Series fight, something you’d never see me do. I know I can expose what happened. Me as a fighter, when I see what Jamie did in his corner, you’d never see me do that.”
“I will expose him, I’ll make him quit.”