Although it may be lacking in the star power, UFC on ESPN 19 is loaded with intriguing matchups that could produce plenty of finishes on the evening. The predictions from the MMA Empire team, along with our guest picker, can be found below for the six-fight main card.
Our guest picker is MMA Junkie’s Nolan King. Since joining the team at MMA Junkie, King has continued to be one of the go-to sources from breaking MMA news coverage, as well as well-written and well-researched articles.
2020 standings (thru UFC on ESPN 18)
T1. Joel Griffith (3-3)
T1. Cooper Riehl (3-3)
T1. Cody Davis (3-3)
T4. Cody Rempel (2-4)
T4. Guest Picker (2-4)
Jack Hermansson vs Marvin Vettori
Joel Griffith – “This is such an intriguing fight that could play out many different ways. Although Vettori has proven to be tough to finish in his career, I see Hermansson finding another big-time submission, and becoming the first fighter to finish Vettori.” Pick: Jack Hermansson via submission.
Cooper Riehl – “Coming in as a replacement and finally getting a top five opponent, this fight is all upside for Vettori. I think it will all come down to whether or not Hermansson is successful getting the fight to the ground when he wants. I expect Vettori to stuff The Joker’s takedowns and keep the fight standing where he holds the edge.” Pick: Marvin Vettori via unanimous decision.
Cody Davis – “The Joker is a solid wrestler with impressive submission skillsm and a good stand-up game to boot. This should be an easy win for Hermansson.” Pick: Jack Hermansson via submission.
Cody Rempel – “Hermansson is on a solid run in the Octagon with a lot of big wins, and even though he’s a slight underdog, he should be able to take the decision.” Pick: Jack Hermansson via unanimous decision.
Nolan King – “It’s always nice when the main event ends up being one of the more intriguing stylistic matchups on the card. I think Vettori’s momentum has perhaps swung the court of public opinion more so in his favour — especially as Hermansson has lost recently. But I expect Hermansson to weather an early storm, get the takedown, and use his signature ground-and-pound before locking in a submission in the championship rounds.” Pick: Jack Hermansson via submission.
Ovince St. Preux vs Jamahal Hill
Joel Griffith – “This is a massive step up in competition for Hill, but he’s ready for it. St. Preux has proven to be difficult to finish on the feet, which is where Hill’s likely opportunity at a finish would come. I see Hill picking St. Preux apart over three rounds and remaining undefeated. Pick: Jamahal Hill via unanimous decision.
Cooper Riehl – “This is a big step up for Hill as he takes on the UFC-vet, St. Preux. Hill is fast for light heavyweight and he’s a quick starter, but St. Preux looked really good against Alonzo Menifield. That’s the most recent prospect he was fed to. I expect St. Preux to find a way to close the distance and work from the clinch, or get this fight to the ground where he should hold an advantage.” Pick: Ovince St. Preux via submission.
Cody Davis – “Hill looks like one of the UFC’s rising stars. He’s fast and can be deadly with his knees and elbows, so I think he’ll land a finishing combo against St. Preux.” Pick: Jamahal Hill via TKO.
Cody Rempel – “St. Preux has found mixed results over the last few years, but he’s always got a multitude of finishes at his disposal, and I’m calling a second round submission.” Pick: Ovince St. Preux via submission.
Nolan King – “Light heavyweights are somewhat unpredictable, especially when a fighter like Hill is taking a jump in competition. If he wants to beat St. Preux, he’ll have to be on his A-game. That’s a big ask for a fighter in his third UFC fight. While Hill will have his moments, I expect St. Preux to pull away with a finish late in the fight.” Pick: Ovince St. Preux via submission.
Gabriel Benitez vs Justin Jaynes
Joel Griffith – “This is a FOTN candidate right here. Both guys love to bang it out and possess serious knockout power. Jaynes is at his best and most dangerous in the first round, but I see Benitez weathering that storm, finding a takedown late, and locking in a submission.” Pick: Gabriel Benitez via submission.
Cooper Riehl – “Both of these fighters are coming off losses in the Octagon, but they’re super exciting and have lots of finishes on their records. This scrap has FOTN potential for sure, and I’m going to side with Benitez. I think he’s just a little more technical on the feet, and I can see him landing his left hand on demand.” Pick: Gabriel Benitez via TKO.
Cody Davis – “Benitez has the reach advantage and a lot more experience in the UFC. Jaynes might put up a good fight, but Benitez should be able to finish in the second round.” Pick: Gabriel Benitez via TKO.
Cody Rempel – “Benitez has shown flashes of brilliance since his stint on TUF Latin American, but, overall, has had mixed results. He should get back on track here against Jaynes with a decision win.” Pick: Gabriel Benitez via unanimous decision.
Nolan King – “This is another fun scrap. Both men are underrated. But I think Benitez proved a lot to me in his last outing, whereas my sample size of seeing Jaynes at a high level is much smaller. Might be a cop out, but, for that, I side with Benitez.” Pick: Gabriel Benitez via unanimous decision.
Roman Dolidze vs John Allan
Joel Griffith – “First off, I’d be shocked if this fight goes the distance. Dolidze is part of the Georgian storm that has been taking over the UFC of late. Although Dolidze is more recognized for his flashy knockouts, he also possesses a strong grappling game, which I see him using en-route to victory.” Pick: Roman Dolidze via submission.
Cooper Riehl – “Allan definitely holds an experience advantage, but Dolidze has finished all seven of his professional fights, including a first round knockout in his UFC debut. I’m going with Dolidze in what should be another exciting matchup!” Pick: Roman Dolidze via TKO.
Cody Davis – “Dolidze is 7-0, but his luck will run out this Saturday. Allan is younger and has more fights under his belt.” Pick: John Allan via unanimous decision.
Cody Rempel – “Dolidze looked like a monster in his UFC debut with the big knee knockout. Allan comes from the famed Chute Boxe team and has a good chin, but it won’t be enough in this one.” Pick: Roman Dolidze via TKO.
Nolan King – “My pick here is less of a reflection on Allan and more of a reflection on Dolidze. A powerful striker who slings with reckless abandon, I think Dolidze’s odds of landing a knockout blow are high, despite Allan being a skilled practitioner in his own right.” Pick: Roman Dolidze via TKO.
Jordan Leavitt vs Matt Wiman
Joel Griffith – “It’s no secret that Leavitt excels on the mat, which is exactly where he’s going to try and take this fight. However, Wiman is no slouch on the ground either. I can’t see Leavitt being able to finish Wiman, but I do see him leaving with the win.” Pick: Jordan Leavitt via unanimous decision.
Cooper Riehl – “Wiman is always tough and should be able to make things interesting for a little bit, but I see Leavitt being too much for the veteran.” Pick: Jordan Leavitt via submission.
Cody Davis – “Leavitt has explosiveness and speed on his side. If he controls the tempo, he’ll win this fight.” Pick: Jordan Leavitt via unanimous decision.
Cody Rempel – “This definitely feels like one of those fights where they setup a young up-and-comer with a recognizable name to build him up. Leavitt should take advantage and get the win.” Pick: Jordan Leavitt via unanimous decision.
Nolan King – Wiman will have advantages in certain areas — more so than any other matchup he’s had since returning from hiatus. However, Leavitt will prove to be too much on the ground and lock in a round two submission.” Pick: Jordan Leavitt via submission.