“Each of the Five Points is a finger,” said Bill “The Butcher” Cutting in the film Gangs of New York. “When I close my hand it becomes a fist. And, if I wish, I can turn it against you.”
Twenty-two of the Ultimate Fighting Championships’ mixed martial artists will enter the Cox Convention Center in Oklahoma City, Okla. on Sept. 16 for UFC Fight Night 19, make fists, and turn them against each other. Here are five points to watch for on Wednesday night.
Main Event Promises
Lightweights Nate Diaz and Melvin Guillard were favorites to win “The Ultimate Fighter,” seasons five and two respectively. Diaz did, Guillard didn’t, although Guillard was competing at welterweight.
Diaz’s skill set and divisive personality marked him for big things at 155-pounds, and he punctuated the point in April of 2008 when he secured a hands-free triangle on Kurt Pellegrino and flipped double-barrel birds to no one in particular. He followed that win by a split decision over Josh Neer but since then the twenty-four-year-old dropped decisions to Clay Guida and Joe Stevenson due to his wrestling deficiencies. In Guillard, he gets an explosive wrestler with KO power (Remember the Rick Davis fight? Neither does Davis).
The last time Melvin Guillard was in a main event, it might have been the worst thing to ever happen to him. He was knocked down and guillotined by Stevenson in 27 seconds then suspended for cocaine use. Rich Clementi choked him out next and somewhere along the line he found himself in prison. Long gone was the Guillard dubbed the next Kevin Randleman—a powerful fighter with the “it” factor, but in this case, a better striker.
“The Young Assassin” has matured, silently returning to the UFC and picking up two wins against Dennis Siver and Gleison Tibau. With his life seemingly in order, can he handle the pressures of a slick submission artist who isn’t scared to strike?
Whoever wins the headlining bout reminds fans of the promises they once made inside the Octagon.
Lightweight Fight Scenes
Roger Huerta hasn’t seen action since August 2008 when Kenny Florian brushed him aside. His contender hat blew away in the wind and his star relocated from the Octagon to the Hollywood Hills to pursue a modeling and acting career. He’s fulfilling the last fight on his contract against Gray Maynard, and then, who knows?
Maynard’s ability to put opponents on their back and keep them down now is just one worry since Maynard demonstrated improved hands when he pulverized Jim Miller this March. If Huerta can bring the heart that made him famous to this fight, he can strike and scramble to get the best of the less experienced Maynard. However, his weakness – fighting off his back—plays to Maynard’s strength, and that can crash Huerta’s going away party. It will come down to whether or not Huerta is still ready for improvised fight scenes instead of the scripted stuff.
In a preliminary bout, Sam Stout battles Phillipe Nover. Despite Nover’s inexperience, he’s technically ready to mix it up with the likes of Stout—a Shawn Tompkins understudy with mixed results in the Octagon. Stout must drag Nover into the wars he’s seen while Nover must try to overwhelm the patient striker.
More preliminary action pits human headache Jeremy Stephens against Justin Buchholz, a fast Urijah Faber prodigy. If it’s closed-quarters combat, Stephens is the favorite, so Buccholz must stick to his scrappy game and not get roped into a fight.
WEC Trilogy Finds UFC Home
A light heavyweight fight in preliminary action revisits Brian Stann and Steve Cantwell’s history: Stann blasted Steve Cantwell in 2007 in the WEC and Cantwell returned the favor in 2008, stealing Stann’s title. Both left the blue cage behind for the Octagon and are coming off UFC losses. Someone’s going down again and Cantwell’s combinations and well-roundness likely means its Stann, but Stann’s trainer Greg Jackson may have handed him the tools needed to dismantle “The Robot.”
Former WEC champion Carlos Condit is killer inside the cage, but he lost a Fight of the Year-quality bout to Martin Kampmann in April in his UFC debut. UFC newcomer and well-traveled veteran Jake Ellenberger doesn’t want to be Condit’s first kill despite already being in his crosshairs, so he’s hoping his wrestling and grit can overcome Condit’s hard strikes and aggressive guard.
Back in preliminary action is Chris Wilson vs. Mike Pyle, once considered some of the most dangerous welterweights outside of the UFC, look for their first finish in the UFC. With a combined 1-3 UFC record (Wilson’s ‘W’), an emphatic fight in this “will to win” bout is a must for the well-rounded combatants.
Brock Larson is the type of welterweight who butchers opponents—brute force in fast fashion. His prey is Mike Pierce, a WEC veteran with an affinity for going in for the kill. Hunting Larson seems like a losing proposition.
185-Pounders on the Rebound
The opening bout of the night features the only middleweight on the card coming off a win in Tim Credeur. The Bayou native has displayed an improved game on a three-fight win streak since leaving “The Ultimate Fighter” house. Nate Quarry is a turn-your-lights out fighter hoping to avoid Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belts like Creduer after tapping to Demien Maia in his last bout. Unless it’s a game-changing fight for either, avoiding their opponent’s strengths translates to victory.
Steve Steinbeiss hasn’t had the success his teammates at Arizona Combat Sports Ryan Bader and Aaron Simpson have had inside the Octagon. At 4-2, he takes on well-traveled Team Quest fighter Ryan Jensen, who was beating up Wilson Gouveia before getting caught in an arm bar more than a year ago. Steinbeiss must stay standing if he wants his first UFC win, while Jensen needs to ground and pound for his.
C.B. Dollaway is like Steinbeiss with more experience despite his high profile. Against late replacement and 5-1 Jay Silva, “The Doberman” should be able to captivate fans with that pesky Peruvian necktie.