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Taneisha Tennant's turn to impress the UFC on 'Dana White's Contender Series'

Taneisha Tennant, in the Budokan Martial Arts shirt,

Taneisha Tennant, in the Budokan Martial Arts shirt, won the Invicta FC Phoenix Series bantamweight tournament on March 6, 2020. Credit: Invicta FC/Dave Mandel

Taneisha Tennant enjoys performing in front of a crowd.

But, no fans will be attending her next fight. No family and friends in the arena to lend their vocal and moral support. With the coronavirus pandemic still lurking around every corner of life, the vast majority of sporting events -- and all UFC events since they restarted in May -- take place without fans in the stands.

But one person certainly will be in attendance Tuesday night. The guy who’s name is included in the title of the event.

"Dana White will be there," Tennant said, referring to the president of the UFC. "That’s all I need to worry about."

Tennant, who lives in Queens and trains at Budokan Martial Arts in Lynbrook, will be fighting Danyelle Wolf in a featherweight bout on "Dana White’s Contender Series." The bout takes place at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas and will stream on ESPN+.

The show, in its fourth season, features 10 fighters looking to wow the UFC president and earn a UFC contract at the end of the night. Through the first six live episodes this season, 23 of 30 winners have received a UFC contract.

Tennant, 31, last fought in March when she won the Invicta FC Phoenix Series. She fought three times that night – two one-rounders (considered exhibition fights) and then a three-rounder. Wolf, a three-time U.S. boxing champion, is making her MMA debut.

Tennant is a licensed practical nurse and works part-time at a nursing home in Long Beach. She began her amateur MMA career in 2016 and turned pro in May 2019 at Ring of Combat. Tennant also has a small part in "Bruised," an upcoming MMA-themed movie directed by and starring Halle Berry. At 3-0, this fight on this stage arrives at a good time, she said.

"I did expect the call. And when I got it, I wasn't necessarily shocked," Tennant said. "I was just happy to be given the opportunity to show my stuff."

Winning a contract on "Contender Series" puts a fighter’s name into the minds (and social media timelines) of fans. It elevates them perhaps quicker than someone who gets signed to a short-notice fight, the difference being the UFC fan already has established some modicum of a connection to that fighter.

"These people who come from the ‘Contender Series,' they've been champions in their hometown and their state, and they've been around but nobody has seen them," Tennant said. "So when they finally get to that big stage, people are like kind of wild. They're like, ‘Wow, this talent was out there all along.’ "

New York Sports