Jamahal Hill could be the fresh blood injection that the light heavyweight title fighter has been looking for.
Having made his professional debut in 2017, Hill is the least experienced contender with the number (14) next to his name in the global MMA Fighting rankings, but he could also be much closer to a championship opportunity than some of his more experienced peers. Aleksander Rakic (7) and Anthony Smith (8) are facing uncertain returns as they recover from injury, Volkan Özdemir (11) only recently snapped a losing streak and Hill’s UFC Vegas 59 main event challenger Thiago Santos (12) is closer . get out of the ranking than to rise in it.
It’s all debatable whether Santos can regain some of his former glory on Saturday. The man who was a stone’s throw away from beating Jon Jones has only won once since that close call, and he has struggled to piece together the kinds of performances that have previously made him one of the most feared knockout threats in both 205 and 205. 185 lbs. On paper, he has amazing skills to get Hill into trouble; in fact, Father Time could send a message to a veteran of 32 battles.
In another major card action, Vicente Luque defends his place in the welterweight rankings against a resurgent Jeff Neal. Ultimate Fighter 30 In the final, Mohammed Usman (younger brother of UFC champion Kamaru Usman) takes on Zack Pauga at heavyweight, while Invicta FC veteran Brogan Walker takes on Juliana Miller for the flyweight tournament title, heavyweight veteran Augusto Sakai takes on up-and-coming Sergey Spivak. and Arian Lipsky will fight Priscila Cachoeira in the flyweight division.
Which: UFC Vegas 59
Where: UFC APEX in Las Vegas
(Numbers in brackets indicate that MMA fighting GlaboutBall Ratings)
Thiago Santos (12) vs. Jamahal Hill (14)
It hurts to say this: Thiago Santos is no longer the fighter he used to be.
Blame it on age (he turned 38 in January), blame it on the knee injuries Santos suffered during his near loss to Jon Jones, or blame it on the competition he had to face as an elite light heavyweight (his defeat after the fight with Jones was with Magomed Anklaev, Alexander Rakich and Glover Teixeira), but there were simply no results for Marreta. Even his victory over Johnny Walker was, to put it mildly, forgotten.
So, everything is ready for Jamahal Hill to arrange another demonstration performance. Due to finishing back-to-back in the first round, he was given a name that still has enough brilliance to elevate him, but most likely not enough left in the tank to threaten him. As long as he respects Santos’ kick, Hill won’t be in too much danger. He’s bigger and faster, and at this point in their careers, poses a bigger knockout threat than Santos.
Forward and upward. Hill by knockout.
To choose: Hill
Vicente Luque (9) vs. Geoff Neal
If the main event is meant to showcase Hill, then the co-main event is anything but Vicente Luca. This is a trap game.
Luque should be drafted against all but the best at 170 pounds (his last losses? Belal Mohammed, Stephen Thompson and Leon Edwards). How you look at this fight depends on how high you see the ceiling of the Nile. At his best, he displayed the same explosive finishing abilities as Luka, he just doesn’t have Luka’s track record. For now.
One of Neil’s main concerns is the inconsistency in wrestling. Luke loves to stand and punch, but he is such a versatile finisher and if he gets that punch to the ground, Neil will be on fire. It is this aspect of Luque’s game that is defining in this fight because standing up can be a draw, even given Luque’s reputation as a hit man.
I’m looking forward to an exciting start to this fight with Luque eventually defeating Neil or winning the situation in a fight and then winning by submission.
To choose: Luke
Mohammed Usman vs. Zach Paugi
Brogan Walker vs Juliana Miller
Oh yes, now we can discuss the real main events.
Don’t let the corporate hashtag fool you, it’s not just UFC Vegas, it’s #TUF30Finale. That’s right, we have two Ultimate Fighter 30 finals on Saturday, starting with lightweights Brogan Walker and Juliana Miller, followed by heavyweights Mohammed Usman and Zack Pauga.
Let’s start with the big boys.
Yes, Mohammed Usman is the younger brother of Kamaru Usman. No, he doesn’t fight like Kamaru at all. Yes, there is a reason why he is an underdog in this. Those who know Usman may remember that they last saw Brandon Sales submit him in the PFL. He recovered well enough TUF home with a couple of decision wins, but his semi-final win was a close nod to Eduardo Pérez that could have been either way. Usman has the tools and training, but he rarely picks it all up during a fight.
It won’t work against Zach Paugi, one of the best hitters of the season. He has strong fundamentals, good takedown defense and a laid-back attitude that will serve him well in the UFC heavyweight division. And he will go ahead after beating Usman with a convincing decision.
Walker vs. Miller is a more difficult choice. Miller may have been a breakout star TUF 30, a talented rookie who keeps his heart on his sleeve and fights like a demon in a cage. She only had three fights before TUFbut on the show, she avenged her only loss by beating Claire Guthrie in one of the best fights of the season, then showing off her powerful submission game against Caitlin Neal to book a ticket to the final.
However, I find it hard to disagree with Walker’s experience. She has a beautiful win over Miranda Maverick on her resume and has fought a higher level of competition than Miller up to this point. Perhaps Miller is as much an undiscovered gem as she is. TUF Julianna Peña was the coach when she dominated her own season, but it’s too early to tell. Walker has a foot advantage and I’ll be very impressed if Miller can dominate her on the ground.
I understand the hype around Miller. Give me a Walker to be upset about.
To choose: Spider and Walker
Augusto Sakai vs. Sergey Spivak
I highly appreciate the chances of Sergei Spivats to join Tom Aspinall, Alexander Romanov and Sergei Pavlovich in discussing the main prospects, but here it does not come easily to him. Despite being mired in a brutal knockout loss, Sakai is firmly on his feet and I’m sure he’ll argue that he just keeps finding himself on the wrong side of the heavyweight coin toss.
Let’s simplify it and call it a striker vs. grappler match, because I think Sakai’s Muay Thai skills give him an advantage on his feet, while Spivak’s aggressive wrestling gives him an advantage on the mat. Whoever launches their tools first will be your winner.
Do you know what brings me down? Spivak defeated Greg Hardy. Greg Hardy is not good. Now he has to recalibrate and face the top 25 heavyweights? This should encrypt your system. This fight looks like fun to me.
Sakai stretches and fights en route to a decision win.
To choose: Sakai
Arian Lipsky vs. Priscila Cachoeira
Not to mention the unfortunate weight, there is no reason to lose faith in Ariana Lipsky in this matchup. She is a better technical striker than Priscila Cachoeira and she should be able to beat Cachoeira at will. Cachoeira will challenge anyone who agrees to fight her, but even so, she’s not a strong striker enough to just overwhelm Lipsky.
The other nod I’ll give to Cachoeira is that she has legal power for the 125er, something Lipsky needs to keep in mind. Lipsky never swings her legs, so look for her to avoid Cachoeira’s hayfields, and rip her apart with counterattacks or lay her on her back if Cachoeira starts to make headway with her arms.
Cachoeira was eliminated from the UFC APEX tournament with a decision victory in her last fight, but Lipsky will take the judges out of the equation on Saturday when he wins by submission.
To choose: Leipzig
Michal Olekseichuk defeated. Sam Alvey
Terrence McKinney vs. Eric Gonzalez
Brian Battle def. Takashi Sato
Josh Quinlan victorious Jason Witt
Corey McKenna vs. Miranda Granger
Stephanie Egger (T15) def. Maira Silva