Getting to Know Your TUF 19 Light Heavyweights

SpohnSnapkickSeason 19 of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) features “The Prodigy” BJ Penn and “The Answer” Frankie Edgar as coaches for eight middleweights and eight light heavyweights who are competing for a chance at earning the title of Ultimate Fighter and a six figure UFC contract. Here is an introduction of the 205-pounders in the tournament… 1) Daniel Spohn (8-3) earned his way into the TUF 19 house with a one-punch knockout over Tyler King. His fight only lasted seconds, but he looked impressive and was BJ Penn’s third pick for Team Penn. Spohn is a talented light heavyweight, though I’m not too confident he would fare well in the UFC’s 205 pound division, considering he went 1-3 in a stint with Bellator and was ultimately released from the promotion. That said, I would not be surprised to see him make it far in this tournament, as he is a skilled striker who possesses incredible one-punch knockout power, as was clearly evident in his elimination round bout. At the end of episode 2, he was chosen by his coach BJ Penn to face off against Team Edgar’s Todd Monoghan for a fight that will be taking place on the upcoming episode three. 2) Todd Monaghan (5-3) is an Evangelist and Baptist preacher. He faced Jake Heun in the elimination round, and after being rocked on the feet and nearly finished with ground and pound, he found himself in compromising situations on the mat. Heun had him in a north-south choke, and then a rear naked choke with both hooks in. Monaghan showed great heart and survived all of Heun’s attacks, and then caught Heun in an armbar off his back, earning a tap and a spot in the TUF 19 house. It was an impressive comeback win for Monaghan. He was the fourth and last light heavyweight to be selected by Frankie Edgar to be on Team Edgar. He is tough, has a solid chin, and excellent conditioning. However, I don’t see him getting very far in this competition. In fact, I don’t expect him to get past Daniel Spohn when they square off in a quarter final match-up on the upcoming episode three. 3) Chris Fields (10-5-1) was the last light heavyweight to be selected by BJ Penn to be on Team Penn; he was actually the last light heavyweight left standing during team selections, so he was last to be picked. He is a Cage Warriors veteran who went 3-2-1 competing in the promotions middleweight division. He is a natural 185 pounder, so it is a bit odd to me that he is competing at 205 pounds on the show, while four of the eight 185 pounders are actual 170 pounders. It is all very strange, and I just wish there would be rules set to make sure everybody competes on the show in the same weight classes they compete in off the show. Fields is a decent striker who does not have much of a wrestling game. He faced Josh Stansbury in the elimination round and was losing the fight, but Stansbury injured his knee on a takedown attempt which cost him the fight. With a TKO win, the Irishman reserved a spot in the TUF 19 house. I have been following his career for the past few years, and I have to say, I don’t think he stands a chance at winning this tournament. With that said, I wish him the best. 4) Anton Berzin (3-1) was the first light heavyweight selected by BJ Penn to compete for Team Penn in the tournament, and is my personal pick to win the whole show. He is a well-rounded mixed martial artist with solid striking and an excellent submission game. He also displayed some nice judo skills in his fight to get into the TUF 19 house, where he defeated Cody Mumma via triangle armbar submission in the first round of action. He outstruck Mumma on the feet, then tapped him on the mat, dominating the fight in every way. My only concern about the Russian is his chin, as the lone blemish on his professional mixed martial arts record was a TKO. The fact that it came against a fighter with a record of 8-6 doesn’t help make it any better, either. I look forward to seeing Berzin fight in the quarter finals on the show, and think he may very well have a future In the UFC’s light heavyweight division. 5) Josh Clark (5-2) used to disable mines for the Army and is now competing in mixed martial arts, having left a government job to compete in the tournament. He was the second light heavyweight selected by BJ Penn to be on Team Penn. Clark had a back and forth brawl with John Poppie to get into the TUF 19 house. The fight saw its way to the third ‘sudden death’ round, where Clark went for a triangle choke, and then switched to an armbar to earn the tap from Poppie. Clark was the second light heavyweight selected by BJ Penn to be part of Team Penn. “The Hillbilly Heartthrob” is a finisher; not only did he finish his opponent to get into the TUF house, but 100% of the victories on his professional mixed martial arts resume are also finishes. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Clark get through the quarter finals, but I don’t see him getting further than that. He’s not bad, but I don’t think he has what it takes to beat the crème of the crop. It is worth noting that he has dropped two of his last three bouts; one of which was under the XFC banner, and the other for Bellator. After the show wraps up, Clark may get a bout or two inside the Octagon, but I wouldn’t bank on him having a lengthy UFC career. 6) Patrick Walsh (4-1) was the second light heavyweight selected by Frankie Edgar to be on Team Edgar. He is an Ohio State Buckeye who competed at heavyweight in the past, but has recently dropped down to the 205 pound division. He is a skilled wrestler who submitted a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioner in in Doug Sparks for a spot in the TUF 19 house. Walsh showed great heart, toughness, and submission defense in the fight, as he survived a tight guillotine choke from Sparks only to turn the tide around and get Sparks in a kimura. Sparks tried to fight off the hold, but after a couple of failed reversals, he found himself in more pain and was forced to tap, giving Walsh the victory. Walsh is one of the two the biggest light heavyweights in the house, and while that gives him the advantage in size, it may present a problem when it’s time to cut weight. The lone blemish on Walsh’s professional mixed martial arts record is very odd to me, because it is a rear naked choke submission loss that came at only 18 seconds into the very first round of action. I have a hard time wrapping my mind around how someone, especially a wrestler could get caught in a rear naked choke in that short of time. It is quite befuddling, actually. That tidbit alone makes me doubt him, so I have a hard time picturing this Massachusetts native having a successful career with the UFC. 7) Matt van Buren (6-2) was the third light heavyweight selected by Frankie Edgar to be on Team Edgar. He is yet another former Bellator fighter who is trying out for a shot at a UFC contract. He went 2-2 with the promotion before receiving his pink slip. In order to get into the TUF 19 house, van Buren defeated Daniel Vizcaya in the first round with Travis Browne-esque elbows to the side of Vizcaya’s head, while Vizcaya was attempting a takedown against the cage. Training out of Alliance MMA in San Diego, CA, van Buren is a well-rounded mixed martial artist who puts time in at the gym with some of the best training partners and coaches on the planet. He has some talent, but admittedly, I don’t see him making it to the finals of this tournament, nor finding future success with the UFC, especially considering the fact that he couldn’t cut it in Bellator. It’s usually UFC failures who go to Bellator, not the other way around; some things are a little backwards this season on TUF. 8) Corey Anderson (2-0) is the wrestling coach at Lincoln College in his native Illinois. He was the first light heavyweight selected by Frankie Edgar to be on Team Edgar. Anderson faced fellow former Newberry College wrestler Kelly Anundson and defeated him via three round unanimous decision in order to earn a spot in the TUF 19 house. After going hard and outwrestling Anderson in the first round, Anundson gassed himself out and had nothing to offer in the second and third, where Anderson easily outstruck him en route to a decision victory. Anundson has since moved on to fight for Bellator and is currently 1-0 with the promotion. Anderson made his way into the house, but my confidence in him is not exactly sky high. Aside from being outgrappled by Anundson in the first round of his elimination fight, Anderson has been finished twice as an amateur, and I find that worrisome. He is a large light heavyweight, and is one of the two biggest 205 pounders in the house. While it gives him an advantage in size, it may present problems when it comes time to cut weight. The bright spot for Anderson is his young age; being only 24 years old, he has plenty of room for growth. I could see this wrestler developing a solid, all-around game. I would not count Anderson out of finding future success inside the Octagon.

Written by Gabe Killian

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