The UFC Vegas 19 prelims present nine bouts, featuring five newcomers and three Contender Series contract winners. There’s plenty of talent within the UFC Vegas 19 prelims, which are set to begin this Saturday at 5:00PM (ET) on ESPN+.
The event’s undercard begins with heavyweights Sergey Spivak and Jared Vanderaa. Seven more contests will follow, before featherweights Jared Gordon and Danny Chavez battle it out in the featured prelim. The UFC Vegas 19 prelims should be rich in action with guys like Eddie Wineland, Nate Landwehr, and Drakkar Klose all competing.
UFC Vegas 19 Prelims Preview
Jared Gordon (16-4) vs Danny Chavez (11-3)
Featherweights Jared Gordon and Danny Chavez will serve as the last of three featherweight contests slated for the UFC Vegas 19 prelims. ‘Flash’ Gordon has now spent nearly four years in the UFC, accumulating a record of (4-3). The former CFFC featherweight champ hit a rough patch after winning his first two UFC bouts. However, it must be noted that two of his losses were to Diego Ferreira and Charles Oliveira. Meanwhile, Danny Chavez is looking to keep his momentum rolling after securing a win in his UFC debut last August.
Gordon decided to drop down from lightweight to featherweight following his first round loss to Oliveira in November of 2019. The result was a dominant decision victory over Chris Fishgold – in which Gordon out-struck his opponent 241 to 27.
Chavez displayed an impressive well-rounded game in his debut decision victory over TJ Brown last August. A striker at his base, Chavez has solid wrestling defense and Jiu-Jitsu in case he does get taken down. He’s offensive with his BJJ when on his back as well.
Expect Gordon to seek takedowns early in this fight against Chavez. ‘The Colombian Warrior’ showed off vicious leg kicks in his debut, which is exactly why Gordon will grapple. Both are pretty well-rounded and experienced mixed martial artists. That leads me to believe they’ll be several good back and forth scrambles between these two before it’s all said and done.
Drakkar Klose (11-2-1) vs Luis Pena (8-3)
Luis Pena replaced Jai Herbert on a week’s notice to face Drakkar Klose at UFC Vegas 19. ‘Violent Bob Ross’ has had a rather frustrating start to his UFC career – suffering two split decision losses in his first seven appearances. Conversely, Drakkar Klose has had better luck with the judges – compiling a (5-1) record when it comes to decisions. Both lightweights are coming off losses in which they were finished.
Pena will enjoy a six inch height advantage in there against Klose. How he cuts down to lightweight at 6’3″ is mind-boggling. Nevertheless, he’s displayed an aggressive attack – both in striking and grappling – in the majority of his fights. In fact, he’s really utilized his length advantage when attacking submissions.
Klose has been dealt a tough hand since entering the UFC in 2017 – having already fought the likes of Marc Diakiese, David Teymur, Lando Vannata, Bobby Green, and Beneil Dariush. Impressively though, he’s fared well for the most part. Remember, he had Dariush hurt in his last outing, but he came out on the wrong end of a firefight.
Klose has a power advantage over Pena and I don’t think that’s a real secret. Pena knows it so expect him to grapple, where he might have some real success. Klose’s path to victory is on the feet and Pena’s is on the mat.
Eddie Wineland (24-14-1) vs John Castaneda (17-5)
The experience tilt in this bout weighs heavily in favor of Eddie Wineland. The 36 year old Wineland is making his 15th UFC appearance, while his opponent John Castaneda is making just his second. It’d be wrong to say Castaneda lacks experience though because he’s racked up 22 professional fights – going (17-5).
Wineland is coming off a loss to Sean O’Malley in which he got flatlined, so expect him to come out looking motivated to redeem himself. He’s also better than what he showed against O’Malley. He’s a pretty crafty veteran who is always eager to brawl, but often that leads to his demise.
Castaneda’s lone UFC appearance was a decision defeat to Nathaniel Wood. This is actually a step down in competition for Castaneda, who likely learned a lot from his 15 minutes with Wood in his debut. When Castaneda loses, it’s normally via decision. That won’t be an issue against Wineland.
Eddie Wineland is going to bring the fight directly to John Castaneda. We’ll quickly find out how he handles it, because if he looks to land first he probably lands first against Wineland.
Julian Erosa (24-8) vs Nate Landwehr (14-3)
This might be the most entertaining fight on the UFC Vegas 19 prelims when it’s all said and done. Both Julian Erosa and Nate Landwehr bring high-stakes into this match up. Erosa made a successful return to the UFC last year, but there’s more to prove. Meanwhile, Landwehr is still looking for that statement finish in the UFC.
Erosa made one of the best comebacks anyone has ever made in a UFC debut when he submitted Sean Woodson with a D’arce choke. On very short-notice and as a massive underdog, ‘Juicy J’ hung tough before changing the tides and sinking in the choke. Erosa earned his first UFC victory in his third stint with the promotion.
Landwehr entered the UFC last year after a long, successful career in various other promotions. He shook of his debut loss to Herbert Burns by besting veteran Darren Elkins by unanimous decision. ‘The Train’ hasn’t fought in nine months after two bout fell through, but he’s someone to keep an eye on at featherweight.
The reason why this might be the best fight on the UFC Vegas 19 prelims is because they seem pretty even in nearly every aspect. No matter where this fight goes, both guys will have answers.
Rafael Alves (19-9) vs Pat Sabatini (13-3)
The former Titan FC interim lightweight champ Rafael Alves makes his UFC debut after securing a contract last August on the DWCS. He takes on former CFFC featherweight champ Pat Sabatini – who’s also making his first UFC appearance.
Alves is a world-class grappler, training at MMA Masters in Florida alongside Danny Chavez. The Brazilian showcased his grappling on the Contender Series by locking up a guillotine in the second round. An improved stand up game has elevated Alves to the next level, and a dangerous foe for many.
Sabatini’s only two losses since 2015 – albeit outside the UFC – came via injury and split decision. The guy doesn’t ever get finished and he presents danger on the ground as well.
These are two promising prospects making their debuts against one another. Both are very good on the ground so I expect them to trade on the feet. The better striker will earn their first UFC victory.
Shana Dobson (4-4) vs Casey O’Neill (5-0)
Coming off the heels of the biggest win of her career, Shana Dobson welcomes Casey O’Neill to the UFC. ‘King’ Casey enters the UFC with an undefeated professional record and a dangerous Muay Thai attack. ‘Danger’ Dobson showed her best work last August when she put away Mariya Agapova in the second round.
Dobson trains at Elevation Fight Team in Denver, Colorado. Not one fight has been smooth sailing for her since entering the UFC in 2017, but her durability and improvements were on display against Agapova. Dobson fights violently and isn’t afraid to throw herself into danger to land her shots.
O’Neill makes her promotional debut at the UFC Vegas 19 prelims against a more experienced Dobson. Despite having a Muay Thai background, O’Neill utilizes a wider boxing stance when striking at distance. A former strawweight champ at Eternal MMA, O’Neill is moving up to flyweight for her debut.
Dobson will likely try and make this a “dirty” fight for the UFC newcomer. However, if O’Neill can win the clinch battle early on, I think she’ll have a speed and accuracy advantage in the striking department. Yet, if Dobson displays continued improvements, she can spoil O’Neill’s debut.
Chas Skelly (18-3) vs Jamall Emmers (18-5)
Chas Skelly has sort of flown under the radar since entering the UFC in 2014. He’s quietly gone (7-3), but has had back luck with fights falling through. After losing to Julian Erosa on the Contender Series in 2018, Jamall Emmers worked his way to earning a contract by winning four straight fights.
Skelly hasn’t competed since beating Jordan Griffin in September of 2019. At 35 years old, it’s fair to assume he’d like to get a win at UFC Vegas 19 and then up the activity level. ‘The Scrapper’ should be fresh and eager to get his name back out there.
Emmers nearly upset Giga Chikadze in his UFC debut, but just fell short in the eye’s of the judges. He turned it around by beating Vince Cachero last summer, but the Floridian featherweight is still searching for that statement performance.
Skelly makes use of a “hands high” boxing style, to go along with experience in both attacking and defending submissions. Emmers landed devastating knees in his last fight, while also displaying solid cardio down the stretch. On paper, Emmers has an advantage on the feet, but the opposite can be said if this fight ends up on the ground.
Aiemann Zahabi (7-2) vs Drako Rodriguez (7-1)
Tristar Gym affiliate Aiemann Zahabi has had just three fights in nearly four years of being on the UFC roster. Now, he welcomes DWCS contract winner Drako Rodriguez to the big stage.
Zahabi debuted in the UFC after only six pro fights. Grant it, he was undefeated, but perhaps he wasn’t quite ready yet. The Canadian blamed “mental lapses” for his losing skid, but he’s to steal the show at the UFC Vegas 19 prelims by finishing Rodriguez.
Rodriguez’s opening round triangle choke earned him a contract on DWCS last summer. He’s a promising prospect at just 24 years old, finishing six of his seven pro wins.
Aiemann Zahabi brings the pressure of having that last name into every fight, but he’s learned to adapt to that added pressure. How will Rodriguez respond to the added pressure of his UFC debut? He handled it very well on the Contender Series, but Zahabi holds an experience edge over Drako.
Sergey Spivak (11-2) vs Jared Vanderaa (11-4)
Sergey Spivak is not an easy name to draw in your UFC debut, but that’s exactly what Jared Vanderaa is facing. ‘The Polar Bear’ is a former WWFC heavyweight champ, who already owns wins over Tai Tuivasa and Carlos Felipe. Vanderaa knows how big a win over Spivak means for his aspiring UFC career.
Spivak proudly represents the nation of Ukraine and he fights with never-ending relentlessness. He’s very crafty in gaining optimal positions when fighting up against the cage. Moreover, his heavy right hand is the ultimate distance-closer for Spivak.
Vanderaa is a big, powerful heavyweight hosting the proper nickname of ‘The Mountain’. He’s making his anticipated debut following his contract-earning performance on DWCS last November. Vanderaa assured me in an interview that he’s been working on his wrestling defense to stifle Spivak’s attack.
Spivak vs Vanderaa is one of the UFC Vegas 19 prelims that you just don’t want to miss. The prelims begin with heavyweight clash and they end with one as well. It’s no secret that Spivak will look to clinch against the fence and land shots in close, while Vanderaa will attempt to land big early on to keep Spivak at distance.
Again, the UFC Vegas 19 prelims begin at 5:00PM (ET) on ESPN+ and they’re followed by the main card at 8:00PM (ET). For previews of each main card bout, head to our homepage OT Heroics MMA.
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