Steve Cantwell. Photo property of the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
One of the more busy weeks in MMA will kick off on Wednesday when the UFC holds UFC Fight Night 19 at the Cox Convention Center in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma before premiering the first episode of the tenth season of “The Ultimate Fighter” reality show on Spike TV.
Headlining UFC Fight Night 19 will be a lightweight clash between “Ultimate Fighter 5” winner Nate Diaz and colorful striker and fellow “TUF” alumnus Melvin Guillard as well as Roger Huerta’s potential final UFC bout against standout wrestler Gray Maynard.
The fight: Here’s the rubber match between the two. Stann needed only 41 seconds to knock off Cantwell in their first meeting back in March 2007, but Cantwell rebounded with a three-fight winning streak that led him to a rematch against Stann and a bid for the WEC light heavyweight title, which Cantwell won via second-round TKO. The two will now meet in the UFC with both fighters being handed a loss in their most recent bouts.
What to look for: If you’re looking for a stand-up war, I’d suggest watching this fight. The past two battles between Stann and Cantwell have taken place primarily on the feet and nothing suggests a change in strategy for either fighter in this one.
My prediction: Cantwell, TKO, R1
The fight: Both Wilson and Pyle desperately need a win if they wish to stay in the UFC. This should end up being an entertaining fight as both fighters are well-rounded and have differing strengths that could attack the other’s weaknesses. (Wilson with his wrestling and Pyle with his submissions)
What to look for: Desperation. Both guys have worked extremely hard to get to the UFC and I’m sure that neither wants to be relegated to smaller shows just yet. Pyle fell in his UFC debut to a superior wrestler and Wilson could give him fits as well. He’s won a decent amount of fights from the bottom position to a more-active guard for Pyle may be in order.
My prediction: Wilson, Split Decision
The fight: Silva makes his UFC debut against Dollaway, who was originally slated to face Dan Miller. It’s the classic matchup of a striker against a grappler. Dollaway earned All-American wrestling honors at Arizona State University while Silva finished three of his six opponents via knockout.
What to look for: Silva comes into the fight as a somewhat unknown prospect, but the book on the guy is that he has serious knockout power. Dollaway has been susceptible to making some pretty big mistakes so far in his career. Standing with Silva could end up being another. I’m calling an upset here.
My prediction: Silva, KO, R1
The fight: Stout, who has been seemingly hanging on to his spot in the UFC by a thread for about a year and a half, takes on Nover, who will try to avoid a third straight loss inside the Octagon. Both men are keen to keeping their fights on the feet for the most part and things should be no different here.
What to look for: Fast-paced action. Stout has been known to be a bit wild in exchanges during his fights and Nover also likes to push the pace, both on the feet and on the ground. Nover will have to put the pressure on Stout if he wants to win. He has no choice.
My prediction: Stout, Unanimous Decision
The fight: Buccholz enters the bout against Stephens with only a month-long training camp as he agreed to replace the oft-injured Ronnys Torres in this one. It’s a must-need win situation for both. Stephens has fallen in his last two bouts after a surprisingly successful start in the UFC while Buccholz has dropped two out of his last three in the Octagon.
What to look for: Stephens represents a jump in competition for Buccholz, who’s biggest career win has been a submission of Corey Hill. It will be interesting to see how he handles it. If Stephens can shake off his recent slump, he’ll solidify his place as one of the UFC’s most talented prospects.
My prediction: Stephens, TKO, R2
The fight: Is the glass half full or half empty? Depending on how you look at it, Larson is either being given some oddly easy opponents in his UFC return or Pierce is being fed to the wolves in his UFC debut like many other newcomers in recent years.
What to look for: Which Larson is going to show up? The one that has steamrolled through his last two opponents or the one that was quickly submitted by Carlos Condit and struggled against John Alessio? Even if we end up seeing the best Larson to date, Pierce has enough the experience and skills to be able to hang tough in this one.
My prediction: Larson, Unanimous Decision
The fight: In a bout that was originally scheduled for UFC Fight Night 18 in March, Jensen and Steinbeiss will finally meet six months later. The bout will kick off Wednesday’s 11-fight card. Steinbeiss will also be making his debut in the UFC and in the middleweight division. Both are coming off losses. If it seems like I’m uninterested in this fight, it might be because I am.
What to look for: Jensen’s ring rust. He hasn’t fought since losing to Wilson Gouveia last September. Why? Well instead of taking a fight in the UFC or in a regional show during the last six months, Jensen opted to wait until Steinbeiss was healthy. We’ll find out if that was a good decision or not very shortly.
My prediction: Jensen, Unanimous Decision
Next entry: Brown-Aldo Made Official for WEC 44