UFC signs lightweight Morales after upset KO; two others earn contracts

LAS VEGAS — It was the week of the underdog on Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series.

Four of the five betting underdogs on this week’s show managed to record upsets, including a clean, one-punch knockout from Venezuelan lightweight Omar Morales (8-0) over Harvey Park (12-3) in the main event.

White awarded three contracts on the night, including one to Morales, who earned just the second knockout of his career.

“He is violent and exactly what I’m looking for,” White said. “That was impressive.”

UFC flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko faces Liz Carmouche in the main event of the promotion’s first fight card in Uruguay.

UFC on ESPN+: Shevchenko vs. Carmouche 2
• Saturday, Montevideo, Uruguay
Prelims: ESPN+, 5 p.m. ET
Main card: ESPN+, 8 p.m. ET

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Morales, 33, attacked Park with low kicks early. The finish came at 1:06 of the second round, when Morales dropped Park with a hard right cross after rendering him motionless along the fence with kicks.

“I read all the comments, that I wasn’t tonight’s favorite,” Morales said. “I come from a solid base of kickboxing. My father’s academy gave me the best instruction when it comes to striking, so I’m grateful for that.”

In addition to Morales, the UFC signed middleweight André Muniz and featherweight Herbert Burns.

Muniz (18-4) upset Taylor Johnson (5-1) via rear-naked choke at 1:46 of the opening round.

And Burns (9-2), the only betting favorite to win on Tuesday, submitted Darrick Minner via triangle at 2:29 of the first round. Minner got off to a fast start, as he landed some early punches and a takedown, but Burns recovered and caught his veteran opponent in a triangle-armbar.

“I believe Herbert Burns got caught up in the hype of being a 6-to-1 favorite,” White said. “[Minner] came out guns blazing, but Herbert pulled himself together, got a beautiful submission and won in impressive fashion.”

Herbert Burns secures a triangle arm bar against Darrick Minner, winning the bout and later a UFC contract. Chris Unger/DWCS LLC/Zuffa LLC

The other two fights ended in a little controversy. Bantamweight Dwight Joseph (10-1) defeated Jay Perrin via unanimous decision and flyweight Lucrezia Ria (8-2) outpointed Marilia Santos (10-3) in a split decision.

White admitted he scored both of those fights the other way. He did, however, praise both winners and said he believed they would be in the UFC at some point.

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