Getting prepared for UFC action this coming Saturday? Here is everything you need to know about the event with our Guide to UFC On ESPN 19.
UFC On ESPN 19
Date: December 5, 2020
Location: UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada
Start Time: 10:00 p.m. ET, 7:00 p.m. PT
Where To Watch: ESPN2 & ESPN+
Middleweights: Jack Hermansson vs. Marvin Vettori
Overall Records: Hermansson 21-5, Vettori 15-4-1
UFC Records: Hermansson 8-3, Vettori 5-2-1
Last Fight: Hermansson def. Gastelum, R1 SUB, UFC On ESPN+30 (7/18/20), Vettori def. Roberson, R1 SUB, UFC On ESPN 10 (6/13/20)
Last Five Fights: Hermansson 4-1, Vettori 3-1-1
Rankings: Hermansson #4, Vettori #13
Betting Odds: Hermansson +110, Vettori -130
Preview: Hermansson has been put through the ringer preparing for this fight as Vettori is his third different opponent for this main event bout. Vettori is taking this opportunity on a week’s notice, fighting a week earlier than originally anticipated. Hermansson has already had to prepare for fights against Darren Till and Kevin Holland, and Vettori is a big switch from those two. Till and Holland are strikers while Vettori is a heavy pressure grappler with a real solid ground game.
Luckily for Hermansson, he is good everywhere and someone who knows how to easily adapt. Hermansson may be one of the most underrated fighters in the sport and has proven he can beat opponents both on the feet and on the ground, with 17 of his 21 wins coming by stoppage. Vettori has been itching for a big fight, and he finally has the opportunity to prove he belongs among the top guys at 185 lbs. Vettori got his first finish in nearly four years in his last fight after having six straight fights go the distance.
He does have nine submission wins and came real close to beating Israel Adesanya in Adesanya’s second UFC fight, so he has experience with tough fighters. Vettori opened as the betting favorite, which I find a surprise, as I really like Hermansson to win this fight, but Vettori won’t make it easy for him.
Light Heavyweights: Ovince Saint Preux vs. Jamahal Hill
Overall Records: Saint Preux 25-14, Hill 8-0
UFC Records: Saint Preux 13-9, Hill 2-0
Last Fight: Saint Preux def. Menifield, R2 KO, UFC On ESPN+ 34 (9/5/20), Hill def. Abreu, R1 KO, UFC On ESPN 9 (5/30/20)
Last Five Fights: Saint Preux 2-3, Hill 5-0
Rankings: Saint Preux #15
Betting Odds: Saint Preux +150, Hill -170
Preview: A co-main event pitting a long-time veteran against a rising prospect has the spotlight here as Saint Preux takes on the undefeated Hill. Saint Preux has proven himself to be a measuring stick at 205 lbs., and while the term gatekeeper gets thrown around, he feels like more than that. He’ll likely never get back into the title picture, but he is good enough to be right on the outside of the top ten.
A win over Saint Preux means something in the division, and that is what Hill is trying to accomplish. Hill has had some great finishes in recent fights and has four wins by stoppage, but he is getting a huge step up in competition. Saint Preux has good striking, but he is real tricky on the mat and has really patented the Von Flue choke to the point where you can call it the Von Preux choke.
They are both big light heavyweights and with the small Octagon, the action should be pretty heavy between the two. Hill may be the favorite in this, but Saint Preux isn’t someone to count out. This could be a real strong fight.
Women’s Flyweights: Montana De La Rosa vs. Taila Santos
Overall Records: De La Rosa 11-6, Santos 16-1
UFC Records: De La Rosa 4-2, Santos 1-1
Last Fight: Araujo def. De La Rosa, UDEC, UFC On ESPN+ 34 (9/5/20), Santos def. McCann, UDEC, UFC On ESPN 13 (7/15/20)
Last Five Fights: De La Rosa 3-2, Santos 4-1
Rankings: De La Rosa #15
Betting Odds: De La Rosa +175, Santos -210
Preview: De La Rosa takes this fight on short notice as she looks to get back into the win column when she takes on the durable Santos. Santos got back into the win column in her last fight after suffering her first career loss in her UFC debut. De La Rosa started her UFC career off with three submission wins but has since dropped two of her last three fights, which have all gone the distance.
History would say she is due for a win, but Santos is a tough match-up. Both women like to work on the ground, and Santos may be the better fighter on the feet. De La Rosa has been in there against tougher competition and has the experience of fighting on The Ultimate Fighter. They feel evenly matched.
This one likely will go the distance and might not be the most flashy fight, but the winner will go a long way in climbing up the flyweight rankings.
Light Heavyweights: Roman Dolidze vs. John Allan
Overall Records: Dolidze 7-0, Allan 13-5 1 NC
UFC Records: Dolidze 1-0, Allan 0-0 1 NC
Last Fight: Dolidze def. Ibragimov, R1 TKO, UFC On ESPN+ 30 (7/18/20), Allan NC Rodriguez, UFC On ESPN+ 13 (7/13/19)
Last Five Fights: Dolidze 5-0, Allan 3-1 1 NC
Betting Odds: Dolidze -155, Allan +135
Preview: A light heavyweight bout between two fighters looking to avoid their first UFC loss gets a main card slot on this show, and for good reason as it has the potential to be an explosive fight. Dolidze made his UFC debut in July, scoring a first-round knockout of Khadis Ibragimov on Fight Island. It came after Dolidze had to spend a year out of action to serve a USADA suspension, and it was his seventh finish in seven career wins.
Allan is fighting for the first time since July 2019, as he also had to spend a year on the sidelines serving a USADA suspension. He scored a decision win over Mike Rodriguez in his UFC debut, but that was overturned to a no contest after the failed drug test. Both men are explosive fighters on the feet, and Allan has the better ground game, though Dolidze is no slouch on the mat.
Both do prefer to keep it standing and like to strike a lot, so this could end violently on the feet. The winner of this will likely prove themselves to be a dangerous new threat at 205 lbs.
Featherweights: Nate Landwehr vs. Movsar Evloev
Overall Records: Landwehr 14-3, Evloev 13-0
UFC Records: Landwehr 1-1, Evloev 3-0
Last Fight: Landwehr def. Elkins, UDEC, UFC On ESPN 8 (5/16/20), Evloev def. Grundy, UDEC, UFC On ESPN 14 (7/25/20)
Last Five Fights: Landwehr 4-1, Evloev 5-0
Betting Odds: Landwehr +405, Evloev -510
Preview: A featherweight match-up pitting a hard-nosed veteran against an upstart, undefeated prospect kicks off the main card. Landwehr is coming off his first UFC win in memorable fashion. He gave Darren Elkins quite a beating in May, and was very entertaining in doing so, including yelling out at Dana White during the fight to see if he was enjoying it. Landwehr has won eight of his last nine, and now he looks to hand Evloev the first loss of his career.
Evloev has started his career with thirteen straight wins, with the last three coming as a member of the UFC roster. All three of those wins have come by decision, and while he has been mostly dominant in those, he hasn’t shown that he’s hunting for a finish as opposed to just trying to win. That approach could hurt him against Landwehr, who is a madman everywhere and will bring the fight to Evloev.
Evloev is a big betting favorite, likely due to record and potential, but people shouldn’t sleep on Landwehr in this fight as he could pull off a big upset. This has the potential to set a fun tone for the main card and is an interesting fight at 145 lbs.
Start Time: 7:00 p.m. ET, 4:00 p.m. PT
Where To Watch: ESPN2 & ESPN+
Heavyweights: Gian Villante vs. Jake Collier
Overall Records: Villante 17-12, Collier 11-5
UFC Records: Villante 7-9, Collier 3-4
Last Fight: Greene def. Villante, R3 SUB, UFC On ESPN 12 (6/27/20), Aspinall def. Collier, R1 TKO, UFC On ESPN 14 (7/25/20)
Last Five Fights: Villante 2-3, Collier 2-3
Betting Odds: Villante -220, Collier +180
Preview: A heavyweight bout between two UFC veterans likely fighting for their job headlines the prelim action on the card. Villante and Collier both looked very different in their most recent appearances, which was the first time both men have fought as a heavyweight inside the Octagon. Villante was submitted by Maurice Greene in June in a fight he didn’t look good in, and he didn’t look in the best of shape coming in.
Collier returned to action in July after having not fought since November 2017 due to a combination of a USADA suspension, injuries and the pandemic. He had spent his career as mostly a middleweight, then had two fights as a light heavyweight before making his heavyweight debut in July. He looked like a completely different person, and not in a good way, with a whole different physique and actually having to cut weight to make the heavyweight limit.
This feels like a fight that was made to send a message to both men as to whether they want to be in the UFC or not. It could end up with both men fighting for their job knowing they need an impressive win, or it could be a sloppy and boring heavyweight brawl. I’m honestly not expecting much from this fight.
Lightweights: Matt Wiman vs. Jordan Leavitt
Overall Records: Wiman 16-9, Leavitt 7-0
UFC Records: Wiman 10-7, Leavitt UFC Debut
Last Fight: Solecki def. Wiman, UDEC, UFC On ESPN 7 (12/7/19), Leavitt def. Flores, R1 SUB, Dana White’s Contender Series 27 (8/4/20)
Last Five Fights: Wiman 2-3, Leavitt 5-0
Betting Odds: Wiman +265, Leavitt -325
Preview: Wiman returned last year after nearly five years out of action, but it was a disappointing return as he lost two fights he took in 2019. There were questions whether he would continue to fight, and after taking off another year, he returns here looking for his first win since November 2014. He’s fighting another opponent coming off the Contender Series in Leavitt, who makes his debut with a 7-0 record.
It’s amazing when you look at Wiman’s record and realize that he’s been with the UFC since 2006, one of the longest current tenures with the company. He’s still just 37 and many thought the long layoffs would be good for him, but they didn’t turn out so well. Leavitt is a submission specialist, with five of his seven wins coming by submission, but Wiman has never been submitted in his career and is a sound grappler.
Leavitt is going to have to beat Wiman standing, and that is where Wiman might be able to pull off this upset as long as he has some gas left in his tank. This could prove to be a very intriguing veteran versus prospect fight.
Flyweights: Jimmy Flick vs. Cody Durden
Overall Records: Flick 15-5, Durden 11-2-1
UFC Records: Flick UFC Debut, Durden 0-0-1
Last Fight: Flick def. Smith, R3 SUB, Dana White’s Contender Series 31 (9/1/20), Durden DRAW Gutierrez, UFC On ESPN+ 31 (8/1/20)
Last Five Fights: Flick 4-1, Durden 4-0-1
Betting Odds: Flick -185, Durden +160
Preview: Flick makes his UFC debut off an impressive showing on the Contender Series as he battles Durden in what looks to be a fun flyweight bout. Flick scored a submission win on the September 1 episode of the Contender Series and was the talk of the show afterwards as an obvious winner of a UFC contract. He’s got a fun style to match his entertaining personality, and he’s a fantastic submission fighter, with 13 of his 15 professional wins coming by submission.
Durden is making his second UFC appearance, this time with a full training camp and at his more natural weight class. He went to a draw with Chris Gutierrez in his UFC debut, which impressed a lot of people as Gutierrez is thought of as a potential bantamweight contender, and Durden took the fight on just a week’s notice. Durden is also a proven finisher, with ten of his eleven wins coming by stoppage.
The flyweight division is undergoing a renaissance and these two fighters are exciting additions to the division. This very well could end up being the best fight on the card.
Featherweights: Ilia Topuria vs. Damon Jackson
Overall Records: Topuria 9-0, Jackson 18-3-1 1 NC
UFC Records: Topuria 1-0, Jackson 1-1-1 1 NC
Last Fight: Topuria def. Zalal, UDEC, UFC On ESPN+ 37 (10/10/20), Jackson def. Bektic, R3 SUB, UFC On ESPN+ 36 (9/19/20)
Last Five Fights: Topuria 5-0, Jackson 4-1
Betting Odds: Topuria -210, Jackson +175
Preview: A featherweight bout putting an undefeated and highly-touted prospect against a hard-nosed veteran takes place when Jackson looks to hand Topuria his first career loss. Topuria is making a quick turnaround after a successful UFC debut on Fight Island in October, when he scored a decision win over Youssef Zalal in a short-notice fight. Topuria showed an excellent ground game in the fight with Zalal, though he did gas late in the fight, but that can be attributed to a short training camp.
Speaking of short camps, Jackson returned to the UFC in September, scoring a huge upset in submitting Mirsad Bektic, a fight he took on just a few days’ notice. He was down in the fight and needed a finish in the third, and he pulled off the comeback and got his 14th win by submission. Both men have had somewhat full training camps, and both men are wizards on the ground.
Topuria has tons of potential and should be the favorite here, but Jackson has a lot to prove in his second stint in the UFC, so it won’t be an easy fight by any means. This should be a fun battle, especially once it hits the mat.
Lightweights: Gabriel Benitez vs. Justin Jaynes
Overall Records: Benitez 21-8, Jaynes 16-5
UFC Records: Benitez 5-4, Jaynes 1-1
Last Fight: Morales def. Benitez, UDEC, UFC On ESPN+ 29 (5/13/20), Tucker def. Jaynes, R3 SUB, UFC On ESPN+ 32 (8/8/20)
Last Five Fights: Benitez 2-3, Jaynes 4-1
Betting Odds: Benitez -190, Jaynes +165
Preview: Two lightweights looking to get back into the win column meet in this clash. Benitez fights for the first time inside the UFC APEX and is looking to rebound from a decision loss to Omar Morales in May. He is looking to end a two-fight losing skid as he fights for the second time this year, the first time since 2017 he’s fought more than once in a calendar year. He has a pretty exciting style on the feet and prefers to keep the fight standing.
Jaynes makes his third appearance inside the Octagon, and is looking to get back into the win column after being submitted by Gavin Tucker in August. That fight was at 145 lbs., and he now moves back up to 155. Jaynes is very well-versed everywhere, and he has heavy hands and the ability to finish anyone standing. Benitez has the reach advantage, so Jaynes is going to be looking to get inside the pocket and land the lights out blow.
Jaynes is also a strong wrestler, but he will need to watch the submission game of Benitez. This is a must-win fight for both men, which makes for an interesting battle and should set the tone early for the entire show.
Bantamweights: Louis Smolka vs. Jose Quinonez
Overall Records: Smolka 16-7, Quinonez 8-4
UFC Records: Smolka 7-7, Quinonez 5-4
Last Fight: Kenney def. Smolka, R1 SUB, UFC On ESPN 9 (5/30/20), O’Malley def. Quinonez, R1 TKO, UFC 248 (3/7/20)
Last Five Fights: Smolka 3-2, Quinonez 3-2
Betting Odds: Smolka -135, Quinonez +115
Preview: Smolka and Quinonez are back for another go in this opening bout of the show. They were supposed to fight on the 11/14 show, but their fight was cancelled just before the start of the card when Smolka became ill. It is definitely worth noting that Smolka missed weight for that fight, by a pretty good amount, and his becoming ill was due to the botched weight cut. Asking him to try and make weight again just three weeks later could take a lot out of him, and that hurts Smolka, who is trying to find some consistency in his second UFC stint.
Quinonez has been itching to fight and rebound from being quickly finished by Sean O’Malley in March. Both men are exciting fighters who like to brawl, and Smolka is very good ground fighter, with seven wins by submission, but he also has seven knockout wins. Quinonez isn’t known as a finisher as the majority of his wins have come by decision, but he can end fights with his hands.
I think the big question on this is whether Smolka can make the weight and put those issues behind him, as I like his chances to get a win once they actually stand across from each other in the cage.