A1 Combat 19 Main Event Breakdown

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California is going to be buzzing with activity in sports this week. Thursday night, The Oakland Almeida County Coliseum will welcome the Oakland Athletics back for Opening Day in Major League Baseball as the A’s play the Cleveland Guardians, now managed by Stephen Vogt, in the first of a four-game series to begin the season.

In Southern California, Arena will serve as the host arena for the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball West Region Semifinals (known alliteratively as the “Sweet Sixteen”), right after Dodger Stadium holds its home opener for the 1-1 Los Angeles Dodgers against the St. Louis Cardinals. Our focus, however, is on Friday night.

The first quarter of 2023 ends with another full weekend of MMA action. After a month away, Urijah Faber‘s A1 Combat holds its third event of 2024, A1 Combat 19, just six days after promotional alumnus Payton Talbott (8-0 MMA, 3-0 A1 Combat) picked up his second UFC win at the Apex.

Live coverage of A1 Combat 19 begins at 8 pm ET/ 5 pm PT on the promotion’s official YouTube channel with the amateur prelims, followed at 10 pm ET/ 7 pm PT on UFC Fight Pass with the professional main card. Friday’s event is topped with a championship tripleheader in the professional ranks.

Championship Tripleheader Includes Tussle at Featherweight in A1 Combat 19 Main Event

Among the title fight trifecta, gold at 145 lbs. is at stake in the A1 Combat 19 main event. Current A1 Combat Featherweight Champion Ernie Juarez (7-0 MMA, 4-0 A1 Combat) returns to make another defense against challenger Abdikabyl Kaldar (5-2 MMA, 3-1 A1 Combat) from Hard Rock Live in Wheatland, CA.

This fight is an advertised maximum of three rounds at five minutes per round to cap the show.

A1 Combat 19 Main Event Fighter Comparison and Betting Odds

Heading into the A1 Combat 19 main event on Friday evening, both champion and challenger stand level at 5-foot-9. No reach advantage was accessible at press time.

At the moment, the oddsmakers have Ernie Juarez installed as a -350 favorite on the money line, with Abdikabyl Kaldar countering as a +240 underdog. If you plan on betting on this or any other fight happening this weekend in MMA, please wager responsibly.

Can Ernie Juarez Improve Case for UFC Call-Up?

Champion Ernie Juarez has gone undefeated in professional MMA in his career. Counting amateur fights, he’s won 10 contests in succession, but he hasn’t fought since before Thanksgiving.

On Nov. 18, during A1 Combat 15, he locked up a submission just 39 seconds into the second round against Kody Vogels (4-1 MMA, 1-1 A1 Combat) to run his record to 7-0. In the past, Ernie Juarez’ name has been among those who could receive a call-up to MMA’s top promotion with a win.

It’s a little surprising that this hasn’t happened for him just yet. Juarez is a man who has successfully won and defended a title on the regional circuit in California. Usually, a victory by way of stoppage is the way to get called up to the big leagues of the UFC.

If Juarez scores another highlight-reel victory, he just might be getting a voicemail from UFC CEO Dana White on Saturday morning, if not early next week. It’s already come to fruition for Payton Talbott, who turned an A1 Combat Bantamweight Championship into a UFC contract.

A Contender Series spot for Ernie Juarez wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility given the timing of his upcoming fight. Only time will tell when he’ll get the chance to prove himself on the sport’s grandest stage.

Can Kaldar Drop Juarez From Unbeaten Ranks?

In the other corner, Abdikabyl Kaldar has posted a record of 4-1 in his last five fights. Last time out, he returned to the win column on Dec. 23 with a unanimous decision victory against Jose Avalos (7-5 MMA, 0-2 A1 Combat) during A1 Combat 16, a card that was streamed wall-to-wall on YouTube.

Avalos has since lost a second time, last month against Johnny Robles (6-3 MMA, 1-0 A1 Combat). As far as Kaldar is concerned, Friday’s bout is the biggest one of his career.

He’s versing an undefeated fighter who could find himself in the UFC in his next contest if he plays his cards right. A victory by Kaldar would not only put a dent in Ernie Juarez’ resume but also improve his own cause. Will Kaldar hand Juarez his first professional MMA defeat in the A1 Combat 19 main event?

Analysis, Film Study, and Prediction

Stylistically, the A1 Combat 19 main event looks to favor Ernie Juarez, a Savjitsu fighter, with Abdikabyl Kaldar countering as a jiu-jitsu practitioner.

Look for Ernie Juarez’s Ground Game to Tell the Story

Given that both fighters subscribe to jiu-jitsu, it stands to reason that this one is going to go to the mat. Ernie Juarez is known for writing a quick finish to the fight story, like he did last time against Kody Vogels.

Right after the command to fight was given in round two, Vogels shot for a takedown but Juarez seized control, eventually reversing the script and knock Vogels down before applying the torque to lock up a rear-naked choke in under a minute.

If “The Young Titan” can knock down Abdikabyl Kaldar in the A1 Combat 19 main event on Friday night, he can gain the momentum needed to submit his opposition.

Kaldar Adept at Subs, Too

In the other corner, Abdikabyl Kaldar is great on the ground in his own right. One need look no further than his fight against Joseph Lee. Round two of the fight saw Kaldar dump Lee and move in on the latter’s back.

It was game, set, and match from there as he secured the deep choke to get Lee to tap and nap in 72 seconds. Should Kaldar land the first takedown, it could be all she wrote in the A1 Combat 19 main event.

Final Thoughts

This looks to be an interesting tussle in the main event of the evening. Don’t miss it.

Prediction: Ernie Juarez by First-Round Submission. 

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Drew Zuhosky has been writing about combat sports since May of 2018, coming to MMASucka after stints at Overtime Heroics and Armchair All-Americans. A graduate of Youngstown State University in Youngstown, OH, Drew is a charter member of the Youngstown Press Club. Prior to beginning his professional career, Drew was a sportswriter for YSU's student-run newspaper, The Jambar, where he supplied Press Box Perspective columns every week.

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