The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Light Heavyweight division faces a possible changing of the guard this Saturday (Aug. 6, 2022) when rising knockout artist, Jamahal Hill, takes on former title challenger, Thiago Santos, inside UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada. UFC Vegas 59 will also feature a potentially explosive Welterweight clash between Vicente Luque and Geoff Neal, as well as The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 30 Finale matches.
We’ve got a half-dozen “Prelims” undercard bouts that will set the ESPN stage, split up into two group of three for your perusal. Let’s get cracking ...
170 lbs.: Jason Witt vs. Josh Quinlan
Jason Witt (19-8) scored the biggest win of his career with a “Fight of the Night”-winning decision over Bryan Barberena that upped the former’s UFC record to 2-2. Unfortunately, “The Vanilla Gorilla” got knocked right back under .500 soon after, falling to a lengthy barrage of punches from Philip Rowe in Feb. 2022.
He faces two-inch height and reach disadvantages.
Wand Fight Team’s Josh Quinlan (5-0) put together a perfect amateur record (6-0) to earn a spot on Contender Series. There, he demolished Logan Urban in 47 seconds, only to see the win overturned because of a failed drug test.
He’s yet to see the judges as a professional, scoring three knockouts and two submissions.
I think we all know what to expect from Witt by now — he’s a genuinely solid wrestler and top control artist who disintegrates if you so much as breathe on him too hard. Quinlan’s power is more than sufficient to turn out Witt’s lights, and he’s got the Muay Thai prowess to deliver it accurately.
Indeed, any prolonged exchange on the feet will end with Witt unconscious.
Witt’s potential saving grace is that Quinlan doesn’t fight well off the back foot, meaning the former has a shot if he can establish his takedowns early and keep Quinlan from settling into a groove. Between Quinlan’s movement, cardio and ability to get off of his back, though, he’ll have plenty of time to work his striking and stop Witt in his tracks.
Prediction: Quinlan via first round knockout
115 lbs.: Cory McKenna vs. Miranda Granger
Cory McKenna (6-2) earned her spot on the big show with a decision over Vanessa Demopoulos on Contender Series, which she followed by controversially edging out Kay Hansen in her debut. Then came a 16-month layoff, which she ended in March 2022 with a loss to Elise Reed.
She gives up four inches of reach and an absolutely wild 9.5 inches of reach.
Miranda Granger (7-2) lived up to her “Danger”nickname in her UFC debut, a one-sided decision over Hannah Goldy that marked her first trip to the judges. Subsequent efforts proved less fruitful, falling victim to an Amanda Lemos rear-naked choke and lost a decision to Ashley Yoder in back-to-back bouts.
She fights for the first time in nearly 21 months.
“Poppins” hasn’t exactly set the world on fire during her Octagon tenure. In fact, she’d be winless (0-2) with proper judging, and she failed to show off any outstanding skills in the process. Luckily for her, Granger is as favorable a match up as they come. We know McKenna can wrestle, if nothing else, and “Danger” proved entirely unable to shut down Yoder’s pedestrian head-and-arm throws. Even if Granger’s height, reach and skill give her the edge on the feet, it’s all for naught if she can’t stop McKenna from backing her to the fence and dumping her to the mat.
Unless Granger has fundamentally reinvented herself during her time away, she’s a step below even a green, undersized McKenna. In the end, McKenna leans on her wrestling to grind out a comfortable win.
Prediction: McKenna via unanimous decision
135 lbs.: Mayra Bueno Silva vs. Stephanie Egger
Mayra Bueno Silva (8-2-1) punched her UFC ticket with a 62-second ninja choke finish of Mayana Souza on Contender Series. “Sheetara” currently sits at 3-2-1 in the world’s largest mixed martial arts (MMA) promotion, most recently out-slugging Wu Yanan to a decision victory.
Though both women stand 5’6,” Silva faces a 1.5-inch reach disadvantage.
The Octagon debut of Stephanie Egger (7-2) pitted her against Contender Series graduate, Tracy Cortez, whose wrestling overpowered the Swiss veteran’s judo to earn her a decision win. She now finds herself in the midst of a two-fight finishing streak, including a bonus-winning armbar of Jessica-Rose Clark in Feb. 2022.
She’s knocked out and submitted three foes apiece.
This is one of those fun, volatile match ups where both fighters are well-equipped to exploit the other’s biggest weaknesses. Silva’s considerably more destructive on the feet and will have plenty of opportunities to get in the pocket against a clinch specialist, but is relatively easy to take down and can lose rounds by chasing submissions off her back instead of standing up. Whoever can neutralize the opponent first, whether it be Silva’s striking scaring Egger away from the clinch or vice-versa, will take it.
Self-defeating though she may be, I’m leaning toward “Sheetara.” That’s because Egger’s last two foes willingly walked their way into her wheelhouse and made no efforts to do damage once there, while Silva figures to punish Egger any time they end up at close range. In short, the Brazilian’s power and aggression edge out Egger’s stretches of top control to secure either a mid-round stoppage or competitive decision.
Prediction: Silva via unanimous decision
Three more UFC Vegas 59 “Prelims” undercard bouts remain to preview and predict, including the latest from ultra-exciting Lightweight, Terrance McKinney. Same time tomorrow, Maniacs.
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Vegas 59 fight card right here, starting with the ESPN/ESPN+ “Prelims” matches, which are scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. ET, then the remaining main card balance (on ESPN/ESPN+) at 10 p.m. ET.
To check out the latest and greatest UFC Vegas 59: “Hill vs. Santos” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.