There are times when an event rolls around that seems to have captured the zeitgeist. To have become the zenith of sporting combat for the moment, a perfect crystallization of the temporary mores of the time. Ultimate Fight Night 19 is not one of those events. This event seems to exist because it is customary to kick off a season of TUF (another item that seems to exist merely because nobody has bothered to stop it from existing) and because ZUFFA has fighters that need to be used.
Nevertheless, the fights are well-matched and there will surely be at least a few surprising finishes or well-fought matches, so it’s incumbent on the hardcore fight fan to observe and note what transpires.
Nate Diaz (-230) vs. Melvin Guillard (+195)
Diaz is coming off of a loss to Joe Stevenson that injected desperately-needed life back into Stevenson’s career, while Guillard established the barest toehold of legitimacy with an unearned decision win over Tibau (a fight that should have seen two 10-10 rounds, with Tibau getting a 10-9 third round). Diaz, who started his UFC career by developing a reputation as someone that was always counted out but invariably pulled out the win is on a two-loss skid to two dominant top-position grapplers. Diaz has essentially run into the problem so many other grapplers with weak wrestling have faced: it doesn’t take a black belt to maintain a base and punch down. Veteran fighters like Guida and Stevenson are not going to fall into a triangle when there’s a large tape library on you and you can’t threaten to sweep them.
Guillard, however, doesn’t have the seasoning on the ground that Stevenson or Guida do. While he survived against Tibau, a notorious flake, he did so by alternating between hanging on for deal life and desperately flailing for an escape. Those antics will lead to a submission against Diaz. However, Diaz will have to get him there in the first place.
Diaz, while he has a good repertoire of throws, has fairly weak wrestling and will struggle with the powerful Guillard in the clinch. Being forced into a striking exchange is dangerous for Diaz, but it’s not the worst possible outcome. Guillard functions primarily as a home-run hitting headhunter. He throws quickly and with big power, but rarely in combination and often in a very telegraphed manner, the kind of style that could be completely overwhelmed by a high-volume style like Diaz’s. Diaz will also enjoy a pronounced reach advantage, made worse by the fact that Guillard throws little aside from hooks, robbing himself of a few more inches of reach. If Diaz can stay on the outside, he can hurt Guillard and put him on the ground, finishing him with punches if he goes down hard, or softening him up for a submission if he has simply lost his equilibrium temporarily. Nate Diaz by submission round 2.
Huerta was physically dominated by Kenny Florian and nearly smothered by Clay Guida. A long layoff and an opponent the size of those two men put together spells near-certain disaster for the Tekken prettyboy. Outside of Maynard walking into a huge shot, Huerta is going to get absolutely dummied here. He can be a handful to hold down, but Maynard is just going to work him over until he can’t resist anymore. Huerta is all heart, so expect to see him go the distance while getting put through a grinder. Better luck in Hollywood, brother. Gray Maynard by decision.
Condit is absolutely a top-flight fighter that should handle Ellenberger with his aggressive kickboxing and submission game, which is too bad, because Ellenberger does have talent, although he’s hit the ceiling of his current abilities every time he’s fought a top-tier opponent. Condit should be in the driver’s seat throughout the fight, but he will have to be careful of Jake’s enormous power, which KO’d Pele so hard he puked. Condit is versatile enough that it’s equally likely he finishes via TKO or submission, depending on how he chooses to approach the fight. Grappling would be the safer choice, if Condit can end up on top. Carlos Condit by submission, round 1.
Quarry is the most robotic puncher on this card, which says something when Brian Stann is fighting just before you. That said, he does hit hard, and that’s enough for most opponents, even someone as skilled as Jason Macdonald. Credeur is well-rounded and probably has a submission advantage, but he’s also hittable and doesn’t deal well with taking punishment. Once he gets a taste of Quarry’s power, he’s going to be looking for a way out of the fight. Nate Quarry by TKO round 1.
It’s unclear why this rematch was made, as their second fight basically answered any questions any reasonable person might have had. Each of these fighters have only lost twice in their short careers, and the differences there tell the story for this fight. Cantwell lost to Stann when he got clipped by a big shot in a brawl, and he lost to the massively underrated Luis Cane in a nip-and-tuck affair where Cantwell showed great poise, toughness, cardio, and especially defense against a vicious striker with a big power advantage, even managing to pick up the second round. Stann is coming off back-to-back losses, first to Cantwell and then to Krzysztof Soszynski. In both fights Stann’s not-inconsiderable power went to waste, as he bounced shots off his opponent’s guard or completely whiffed over and over again, headhunting futilely. Against Cantwell, Stann was countered and worn down until he simply wilted under sustained pressure, and Soszynski took advantage of the fact that he has a mediocre ground game and Stann has none whatsoever.
If Cantwell is smart, he’ll look to repeat the Soszynski fight, putting Stann on his back and embarrassing him quickly, without risking the damage the big marine can dish out when he manages to land. In their second fight, Cantwell struggled to take Stann down on occasion, and failed every time, so it’s more likely that Cantwell will have to fighter another dangerous fight, but one he should be able to win handily. Stann has big power, but he’s got nothing else going for him here, so Steve Cantwell by KO round 1.
Both of these men are well-rounded fighters who excel at grappling, with Pyle employing a frenetic, cutthroat submission attack, and Wilson following a more traditional position-then-submission school of thought. Wilson will have a wrestling advantage, so if he can string together some combinations on the feet, he could take control of the fight. Wilson didn’t look his best against John Howard, and he’ll need to be sharp to avoid Pyle’s attack, but Wilson is simply the more talented fighter. Chris Wilson by decision.
Jay Silva, an inexperienced fighter that has had gas problems in the past, is filling in on short notice here, and will likely get roughed up by C.B. on the ground until he’s done for. However, Silva has very real power and is a very dynamic and aggressive striker. C.B. hasn’t had much time to prepare for that type of opponent, so an upset is very possible. Keep your eyes open throughout this one. C.B. Dollaway by submission round 2.
Nover is fighting hard not to be yet another TUF bust, getting no help from the referees in that pursuit. Sam Stout is… well, what is it that motivates a fighter like Stout at this point in a career? It’s become obvious to impartial observers that stout is a solid gatekeeper, but little more. Is Stout content to fight for a living and simply be a competitor, or does he still operate under the delusion that he’ll be champion one day? With Stout’s last victory being an underwhelming incarnation of the ever-changing Matt Wiman, it’s hard to say whether his abilities are improving or getting worse. With Nover offering little more than a basic functional striking game, and Stout possessing a rock solid chin and his own solid striking game, the Canadian should be able to cruise to victory here. Sam Stout by decision.
Buchholz can slug and likes to mix it up, but Stephens punches way above his weight. This fight could be fight of the night or knockout of the night, or both, but Buchholz is more likely to be on the losing end of it. Stephens’ hands are just too good to go at him head on, and Buchholz’s sub game and takedowns are not on the level of a Tibau, Lauzon, or dos Anjos. Jeremy Stephens by KO round 1.
This fight should be a walkover for Larson, who is one of the most entertaining grapplers in the game right now. He simply comes out and runs a smash-mouth offense as best he can, coming straight at his opponent with the singleminded intention of throwing them to the floor and hurting them there with his gorilla strength. This has been greatly successful for Larson so far, and will most likely work in approximately the same fashion here. The one potential hitch in the plan is that Pierce is a striker with KO power and a wrestling background. Larson, for all his gameness and experience, isn’t a particularly good striker, so things may get dicey if Pierce can stay upright. Realistically though, it’s only a matter of time before Larson finds a way to drag him down and run game. Brock Larson by submission round 1.
This fight is there for the taking for either man. The one that pulls his opponent out of his comfort zone will go home the victor. Jensen is probably glad not to be facing a Brazilian BJJ whiz in the octagon for once, having suffered three submissions in his first three UFC fights, but he’s no stranger to being knocked out, either, so striking with a larger Steinbeiss will be no walk in the park. It remains to be seen how the cut from 205 down to 185 will affect Steinbeiss, so a longer fight will probably favor Jensen. Jensen should work takedowns and punishment for a ho-hum decision unless Steinbeiss runs out of gas. Ryan Jensen by decision.