Jamahal Hill it could be the shot of fresh blood that the light heavyweight title picture has been searching for.
Having made his pro debut in 2017, Hill is the least experienced contender with a number (14) next to his name on Global MMA Fighting Rankingsbut he could also be much closer to a championship shot than some of his more experienced teammates. aleksandar rakic (7) and anthony smith (8) face uncertain timelines for their comeback as they recover from injury, Volkan Ozdemir (11) recently snapped a losing streak, and Hill’s ufc vegas 59 main event opponent Thiago Santos (12) is closer to getting out of the rankings than moving up in them.
All of this is a moot point that Santos can regain some of his former glory on Saturday. The man who was one marker away from winning jon jones he has won just once since then and has struggled to put together the kind of performances that previously made him one of the most feared knockout threats at both 205 and 185 pounds. On paper, he has the amazing skills to give Hill trouble; in reality, Father Time could be sending a message to the 32-fight veteran.
In another main card action, Vincent Luque defends his place in the welterweight ranking against a resurgent geoff neal, the last fighter 30 finals go down with Muhammad Usman (the younger brother of the UFC champion Kamaru Usman) struggling Zac Pauga at heavyweight and veteran of Invicta FC Brogan Walker struggle Juliana Miller for flyweight tournament crown, heavyweight veteran august sakai fight against the promising Sergei SpivacY Ariane Lipsky assumes priscilla cachoeira in the flyweight opener.
What: ufc vegas 59
Where: UFC APEX in Las Vegas
Thiago Santos (12) vs. Jamahal Hill (14)
It hurts to say it: Thiago Santos just isn’t the fighter he used to be.
Blame it on age (he turned 38 last January), blame it on the knee injuries Santos sustained in his near loss to Jon Jones, or blame it on the competition he’s had to face as a light heavyweight from elite (his losses after the Jones fight went to Magomed Anklaev, Aleksandar Rakic and Glover Teixeira), but the results simply have not been there for “Marreta”. Even his victory over Johnny Walker it was forgettable, to put it kindly.
So everything is lined up for Jamahal Hill to have another showcase performance. After back-to-back first-round finishes, he’s been given a name that still has enough bling to elevate him, but chances are he won’t have enough left in the tank to threaten him. As long as he respects Santos’ punches, Hill won’t be in too much danger. He’s bigger and faster and, at this stage of his career, he’s more of a knockout threat than Santos.
Forward and up. He hill by KO.
To choose: Hill
Vicente Luque (9) vs. geoff neal
If the main event is meant to be a showcase for Hill, the co-feature is anything but Vicente Luque. This has the makings of a cheat game.
Luque should be the pick against all but the best at 170 pounds (his most recent losses? Belal Muhammad, Stephen ThompsonY Leon Edwards). How you view this fight depends on how high up you view Neal’s ceiling. In his prime, he has shown the same type of explosive finishing ability as Luque, only he doesn’t have Luque’s track record. Even.
A major point of concern for Neal is the grip discrepancy. Luque loves to get up and hit, but he’s such a versatile finisher and if he pulls it off, Neal is toast. It’s that aspect of Luque’s game that makes the difference in this fight because a stand-up contest could be a draw, even given Luque’s reputation as a stand-up assassin.
I expect an exciting start to this one with Luque eventually knocking Neal down or making the best of a wrestling situation and then winning via submission.
To choose: Luke
Mohammed Usman vs. Zac Pauga
Brogan Walker vs. Juliana Miller
Oh yeah, now we can discuss the actual main events.
Don’t let the corporate hashtag fool you, this isn’t just UFC Vegas, it’s THE #TUF30Finale. That’s right, we have two Ultimate Fighter 30 finals on Saturday, starting with flyweights Brogan Walker and Juliana Miller, followed by heavyweights Mohammed Usman and Zac Pauga.
Let’s start with the big ones.
Yes, Mohammed Usman is the younger brother of Kamaru Usman. No, he doesn’t fight like Kamaru at all. Yeah, there’s a reason he’s the underdog in this case. Those familiar with Usman may remember last seeing him introduced by Brandon Sayles in the PFL. He recovered quite well in the YOU F home with a pair of decision wins, but his semi-final win was a split wink over Eduardo Perez that could have gone either way. Usman has the tools and the training, but he rarely puts it all together on fight night.
That’s not going to work against Zac Pauga, one of the best strikers of the season. He has solid fundamentals, good takedown defense and the kind of laid-back attitude that will serve him well going forward in the UFC heavyweight division. And he will move on after beating Usman by a resounding decision.
Walker vs. Miller is a more difficult decision. Miller was possibly the breakout star of TUF 30, a talented newcomer who wears her heart on her sleeve and fights like hell in the cage. She only had three fights before YOU Fbut on the show he avenged his only professional loss by beating Claire Guthrie in one of the best fights of the season and then showed off his powerful submission game against kaytlin neil to reserve a ticket for the final.
That said, it’s hard for me to fault Walker’s experience. She has a nice win over rebel miranda on his resume and has battled a higher level of competition than Miller to this point. Miller may be an undiscovered gem like her. YOU F coach Julianna Pena that’s when he dominated his own season, but it’s too early to tell. Walker has the advantage on the feet and I’ll be very impressed if Miller can dominate her on the ground.
I understand the hype surrounding Miller. Give me Walker for the chagrin.
To choose: Pauga and Walker
Augusto Sakai vs. Sergei Spivac
I have a good chance that Serghei Spivac will join people like tom aspinall, Alexander RomanovY sergei pavlovich in the discussion of top prospects, but he hasn’t been given an easy one here. Even though Sakai is mired in a brutal knockout losing streak, he is tough on his feet and I am sure he will argue that he continues to end up on the wrong side of the heavyweight coin toss.
Let’s simplify this and call it a striker vs. grappler matchup because I think Sakai’s muay thai skills give him the advantage on the feet, while Spivac’s aggressive wrestling gives him the advantage on the mat. Whoever can get his tools to work first, that’s his winner.
Do you know what is puzzling me? Spivac is coming off a victory over greg hardy. Greg Hardy is not good. Now he has to recalibrate and take on a top 25 heavyweight? That has to code the system from it. This fight feels like fun to me.
Sakai reaches out and fights his way to a decision victory.
To choose: sakai
Ariane Lipski vs. priscilla cachoeira
Unfortunate weight loss aside, there is no reason to lose faith in Ariane Lipski in this matchup. She is a better technical striker than Priscila Cachoeira and she should be able to take down Cachoeira at will. Cachoeira presents a challenge to anyone who takes a fight with her, but it’s still not like she’s a volume attacker to overwhelm Lipski.
The other nod I’ll give Cachoeira is that he has legit power for a 125er, something Lipski needs to keep in mind. Lipski doesn’t have a history of being shaken off her feet, so he looks for her to avoid Cachoeira’s haymakers and tear her apart with counters or flip her face up if Cachoeira starts having any success with her hands.
Cachoeira escaped from the UFC APEX with a decision win in her most recent outing, but Lipski will take the judges out of the equation on Saturday when she earns a submission victory.
To choose: leipzig