TUF 19: A Full Breakdown of Every Fighter

Riley KontekFeatured ColumnistApril 23, 2014

TUF 19: A Full Breakdown of Every Fighter

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    USA TODAY Sports

    The Ultimate Fighter 19 is off and running, with the elimination round already occurring. After some awesome fights and some crazy finishes, we are down to eight middleweights and eight light heavyweights.

    Coaches BJ Penn and Frankie Edgar have already formed their teams. From the looks of it, there is a lot of talent between the teams that should make for a nice talent pool.

    Let's take a look at all the contestants and give a scouting report on each fighter.

     

    Elimination Round Results

    Light Heavyweight

    • Dan Spohn def. Tyler King via KO (punch)
    • Todd Monaghan def. Jake Heun via submission (armbar)
    • Chris Fields def. Josh Stansbury via TKO (knee injury)
    • Anton Berzin def. Cody Mumma via submission (triangle armbar)
    • Josh Clark def. John Poppie via submission (triangle armbar)
    • Patrick Walsh def. Doug Sparks via submission (kimura)
    • Matt van Buren def. Daniel Vizcaya via TKO (elbows)
    • Corey Anderson def. Kelly Anundson via unanimous decision

     

    Middleweight

    • Hector Urbina def. Adrian Miles via submission (guillotine choke)
    • Cathal Pendred def. unnamed opponent via forfeit
    • Roger Zapata def. Tyler Minton via TKO (punches)
    • Ian Stephens def. Lyman Good via unanimous decision
    • Tim Williams def. Bojan Velickovic via TKO (punches)
    • Eddie Gordon def. Matt Gabel via unanimous decision
    • Dhiego Lima def. Adam Stroup via unanimous decision
    • Mike King def. Nordine Taleb via unanimous decision

Eddie Gordon

1 of 16

    Division: Middleweight

    Team: Team Edgar

    Record: 6-1

    Strength: Athleticism, Physical Strength, Top Game

    Weakness: Weight Cut

    In my opinion, Eddie Gordon is one of the top middleweights in the house. 

    Gordon, who used to fight at light heavyweight, is now a mountain of a man at 185 pounds. He showed how massive he was in his fight with Matt Gabel, utterly dominating the wrestler from bell to bell.

    That's where Gordon's weakness may come in. He is such a huge man at 185 that keeping his weight down and making weight on short notice could wear on his body throughout this experience.

    Of course, natural athleticism and incredible explosiveness are on the side of the Serra-Longo product. He has very good takedowns and a great top grappling game that sees him control opponents, smash them with ground-and-pound and fish for his underrated submissions.

    Look for him to make a serious run on the show.

Mike King

2 of 16

    Division: Middleweight

    Team: Team Penn

    Record: 5-0

    Strength: Explosiveness, Wrestling, Toughness

    Weakness: Striking Defense

    In watching Mike King's bout to get into the house, we were given insight to one major thing: He has the tough-as-nails, never-give-up attitude that coaches love to see in a fighter.

    Like Gordon, King is an ex-football player, which explains his uncanny explosiveness and great athleticism. That is seen in his takedowns, where he changes levels well and finishes opponents to the mat with ease.

    His elimination fight with Nordine Taleb was the best fight of the premiere. King showed a granite chin and undying will to win and even showed some slick skills on the ground, utilizing a no-hands kneebar at one point that popped Taleb's knee. That was the first decision win of his career, as he finished all five of his pro wins.

    That performance made him the top pick of Team Penn. That being said, to last in a competition like this, he needs to keep his hands up and avoid taking as much punishment as he did against Taleb.

Dhiego Lima

3 of 16

    Division: Middleweight

    Team: Team Edgar

    Record: 9-1

    Strength: Quickness, Jiu-Jitsu

    Weakness: Size

    Dhiego Lima is one of the more well-known prospects coming into this season of the show. That is not only because his brother is Bellator champion Douglas Lima but because he has been a welterweight fighter that MMA fans have had their eyes on for a while.

    That's where his weakness is going to come into play. He is a natural 170-pounder who is fighting against a cast of guys who are mostly natural 185ers. Lima is going to be one of the smallest, if not the smallest, fighter in the 185-pound cast.

    With that, though, will bring superior quickness for Lima. He is already a quick fighter, but against bigger opponents, he will look even faster.

    Plus, his jiu-jitsu is top-notch. He has a good guard and some solid sweeps as well, so wrestlers need to be wary of a ground war with him.

Cathal Pendred

4 of 16

    Division: Middleweight

    Team: Team Penn

    Record: 13-2-1

    Strength: Takedowns, Hand Speed, Experience

    Weakness: Size

    Many people think that Cathal Pendred is the favorite to win it all. While that is a solid assertion given his reputation and resume, his size is going to be a concern, as it is with Dhiego Lima.

    Again, he is a natural 170er, and even though that will spare him during weight cuts on the show, he will be giving up significant size to his opposition. This will especially be true when he fights Hector Urbina in the next episode.

    That being said, Pendred is a well-rounded fighter with good boxing, underrated takedowns and some of the best experience on the show. He owns wins over three UFC veterans in David Bielkheden, Nico Musoke and Che Mills, showing he can hang with high-level guys.

    On the feet, he will need to stick and move while avoiding the clinch game. He will be outmuscled there, but if he uses footwork and in-and-out movement and avoids getting put on his back, he will be successful.

Ian Stephens

5 of 16

    Division: Middleweight

    Team: Team Edgar

    Record: 2-0

    Strength: Wrestling, Explosiveness

    Weakness: Inexperience

    There isn't anything fancy about Ian Stephens. He pushes forward, shoots a takedown and holds you on the mat like you are a helpless human being.

    That's what he did against former Bellator champion Lyman Good to get into the house. He shot early and often and frustrated Good with his explosiveness and top-game pressure.

    The former college wrestler will learn greatly under Frankie Edgar, who entered this sport as a wrestler and is now one of the best boxers in his weight range. Stephens needs to improve his striking, and working with Mark Henry, Edgar's boxing coach, will benefit the young wrestler.

    Inexperience is also going to be a factor, but seeing how he handled Good leads me to believe that may not make a difference. He is going to run this tournament in a Ben Askren-like way, which is to close distance, secure takedowns and get wins. It may not be pretty, but it will be effective.

Hector Urbina

6 of 16

    Division: Middleweight

    Team: Team Edgar

    Record: 16-8-1

    Strength: Wrestling, Transitions, Experience

    Weakness: Fighting off His Back

    Hector Urbina is a long shot to win this competition. That being said, he has the tools to surprise a lot of people.

    Urbina, who had a crazy grappling fight with Adrian Miles that was filled with transitions, used a slick guillotine choke to get into the house. He showed good wrestling in that bout; usually, his fights end with savage ground-and-pound to the guy on the bottom.

    He is one of the most experienced guys on the show, which is going to be important. He has seen it all and knows the tricks of the trade, which will especially pay off against less experienced fighters.

    Like many wrestlers, Urbina is not the most comfortable fighter when he's on his back. He also needs to polish up his striking a bit. He will be the much bigger fighter in his scrap with Cathal Pendred on the next episode, so that may play into his hands.

Tim Williams

7 of 16

    Division: Middleweight

    Team: Team Penn

    Record: 8-1

    Strength: Durability, Submissions, Wrestling

    Weakness: Striking Defense

    BJ Penn labeled Tim Williams as another version of Joe Lauzon. The similarities are there, as both men are East Coast fighters with great durability and a good submission game.

    Williams has an iron jaw and great determination. We saw those qualities on TUF 17, where he survived a tough beating to Dylan Andrews, and in his elimination fight this season, where he grounded and beat up Bojan Velickovic.

    Williams has great takedowns and a savage top game. He throws devastating ground-and-pound at fighters before looking to secure one of his signature chokes. In fact, "The South Jersey Strangler" owns six wins via submission, all of which came via choke.

    He tends to block punches with his face, which is something he will need to clear up. There are some real bangers on this season of the show who can plant and hurt him if he's not careful.

Roger Zapata

8 of 16

    Division: Middleweight

    Team: Team Penn

    Record: 4-1

    Strength: Jiu-Jitsu, Ground-and-Pound

    Weakness: Striking

    Roger Zapata is a ground fighter, but he struck his way past Tyler Minton to get into the house. That reversed a belief that Zapata's weakness is on the feet, though it still is probably his biggest hole.

    He trains under Bruno Tostes, a black belt under Renzo Gracie. He has a very refined ground game, using heavy top pressure and nasty ground-and-pound to dominate opponents.

    His latest win came at the expense of Chip Moraza-Pollard, a Bellator veteran. He pushed the fighter against the fence, took him down and overwhelmed him to a unanimous decision.

    Zapata is probably the biggest long shot in the middleweight bracket. He has a lot to prove, especially because a plethora of wrestlers will be able to resist his takedown game.

Corey Anderson

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    Division: Light Heavyweight

    Team: Team Edgar

    Record: 2-0

    Strength: Wrestling, Athleticism, Explosiveness

    Weakness: Weight Cut

    Corey Anderson is a large man. In fact, he is a hulk at 205 pounds. That may be an advantage or a downfall—possibly the latter, considering he'll need to keep his weight down for the duration of the show.

    That said, he has the tools to win the entire show. He is an explosive wrestler with amazing takedowns and uncanny athleticism. He has the ability to out-quick opponents, put them on their back and hammer them with heavy ground-and-pound.

    And forget the 2-0 record and thinking he is inexperienced. He had 10 amateur bouts before turning pro, where he was 8-2 with both of his losses coming to the same fighter.

    Anderson is young too. At just the age of 24, he has yet to enter the prime of his career, which is a scary thought. Plus, he has trained with Ben Askren, which shows that he has been putting in time with some serious players in MMA.

    Look for this guy to be a tough out in this tournament.

Anton Berzin

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    Division: Light Heavyweight

    Team: Team Penn

    Record: 3-1

    Strength: Jiu-Jitsu, Takedowns, Submissions

    Weakness: Striking

    There aren't many better submission fighters on this season than Anton Berzin. In fact, he may be the best.

    He is a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt who has won all three of his wins via submission. He is good off his back and on top. Fighters on this season need to be wary of engaging on the mat with him.

    His fight to get into the house saw some wild exchanges on the feet with Cody Mumma, showing that Berzin has some work to do with his striking. However, he demonstrated his superiority on the mat when he quickly tapped out Mumma with a beautiful triangle armbar.

    Penn was so impressed with his ground game that he took him as his first overall light heavyweight. We'll see if he's the cream of the crop, or if Penn's talent radar was off. My guess is Berzin will be a good hand.

Josh Clark

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    Division: Light Heavyweight

    Team: Team Penn

    Record: 5-2

    Strength: Power, Striking

    Weakness: Counterwrestling

    Josh Clark is a thief! He stole his nickname "The Hillbilly Heartthrob" from TUF 2 finalist Brad Imes. It's OK, I'll forgive him; he is a solid prospect.

    He is a powerful striker who prefers to stand and bang with his opponents. That being said, he is comfortable off his back, as seen in his elimination fight with John Poppie, where he threw up a late triangle to tap him out.

    Of course, that is his downfall as well. Clark's counterwrestling has been exploited in losses to John Troyer and Reggie Pena. It was also exploited in the Poppie fight, though Clark managed to pull out the win.

    His best bet is to bang on the feet. However, with the amount of power wrestlers who are gracing this season, it will be tough for him to find favorable matchups.

Chris Fields

12 of 16

    Division: Light Heavyweight

    Team: Team Penn

    Record: 10-5-1

    Strength: Experience, Boxing, Durability

    Weakness: Ground Game

    Chris Fields got into the house because a man injured himself in a freak accident. Up until then, he was getting decimated by Josh Stansbury.

    Putting that on the backburner, Fields is an experienced veteran with good boxing and a chin made of stone. And although he is a natural middleweight, he is 6'3" and shouldn't give up too much size or length to his opponents.

    Also, he needs to tighten up his wrestling and submission game. He has lost most of his bouts on the ground via submission, but luckily he is working with a wrestling coach in Mark Coleman and a jiu-jitsu ace in BJ Penn.

    Fields is probably the biggest long shot to win, but crazier things have happened.

Todd Monaghan

13 of 16

    Division: Light Heavyweight

    Team: Team Edgar

    Record: 5-3

    Strength: Size, Durability, Power

    Weakness: Striking Defense

    Todd Monaghan was getting whupped in his elimination fight. He was a couple of strikes away from being stopped by Jake Heun. Then he threw up an armbar and slithered his way into the house.

    Monaghan showed great heart and toughness to survive the butt-kicking that Heun laid on him. Furthermore, he displayed good awareness despite his brain being scrambled by power punches.

    There isn't a ton to get excited about with him. His striking defense is not very good, as all three of his pro losses have come via knockout.

    He also is going to struggle against wrestlers on the show. Basically, Monaghan is not a guy you want to put your money on this season.

Dan Spohn

14 of 16

    Division: Light Heavyweight

    Team: Team Penn

    Record: 8-3

    Strength: Striking, Versatility, Power

    Weakness: Clinch

    Dan Spohn is one of several Bellator veterans on this season of the show. He may also be one of the best prospects on the season.

    He didn't spend much time in his elimination fight to get into the house, using precise, devastating striking to send Tyler King into a state of unconsciousness. That type of striking should put the rest of the house on notice, as Spohn can end the bout with one strike.

    Most of his ability comes on the feet. He has good kicks, solid knees and powerful hands. Any man who stands in the pocket with him risks getting drubbed.

    Fighters who close the distance and suffocate Spohn from the inside will be tough matchups for him. He had a rough stretch in Bellator, but those fights were mostly close, and he has definitely improved since then.

Matt Van Buren

15 of 16

    Division: Light Heavyweight

    Team: Team Edgar

    Record: 6-2

    Strength: Wrestling, Ground-and-Pound, Size

    Weakness: Willingness to Brawl

    Training at Alliance MMA, Matt van Buren has been running with some top-notch trainers and world-class fighters. There is no way he didn't get better training there.

    His best fights are when he stays technical and relies on his strengths, which are wrestling and pounding his opponents from top position. He is a big fighter as well, standing at 6'5". That is an advantage, as he can strike from a distance and set up his takedowns well.

    When he brawls, he leaves himself open. This was seen in Bellator when journeyman Terry Davinney downed him quickly.

    However, sticking to his strengths and dragging opponents to the mat can carry Van Buren far. He has the talent and work ethic to go far in this tournament.

Patrick Walsh

16 of 16

    Division: Light Heavyweight

    Team: Team Edgar

    Record: 4-1

    Strength: Wrestling, Explosiveness, Size

    Weakness: Weight Cut

    Patrick Walsh is an Ohio State alumnus and wrestler who is going to use his base to try and run through opponents. In fact, he arguably has the best wrestling pedigree of all the light heavyweights on the show.

    He has a completed ground game to go with that wrestling, as he has good submissions as well. This was seen in his elimination fight with Doug Sparks, where Walsh tapped out the submission specialist with a beautiful kimura.

    His weight is going to be a little bit of a factor. He is a large light heavyweight who has fought at heavyweight in the past. Being a wrestler, though, definitely helps in that he probably has weight cutting down to a science.

    He also works his striking at Wai Kru MMA, a gym known for muay thai and producing guys like John Howard. Perhaps he has improved his stand-up to the point where he is a well-rounded fighter.