Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Light Heavyweight knockout artists Jamahal Hill and Thiago Santos will clash TONIGHT (Sat., Aug. 6, 2022) at UFC Vegas 59 inside UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Hill joined the roster in 2020 after Contenders Series, and he pretty immediately announced himself as a fighter to watch. Since his loss to Paul Craig last year, Hill has really gone on a tear, destroying two top-notch opponents to break into the Top 10. Conversely, Santos is on the worst skid of his career. Ever since his knee injuries, Santos has really struggled to pull the trigger. He’s growing more and more hesitant, which has really put his back against the wall.
Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for each man:
Record: 10-1 (1)
Key Wins: Jimmy Crute (UFC Vegas 44), Johnny Walker (UFC Vegas 48), Ovince Saint Preux (UFC Vegas 16), Darko Stosic (UFC Fight Night 166)
Key Losses: Paul Craig (UFC 263)
Keys to Victory: Hill is a mean son of a gun. A lanky Southpaw with major knockout power, Hill applies the fundamentals well and has found great success as a result.
Hill has momentum and youth on his side, but those attributes alone don’t guarantee success. Just because Hill has been thriving while Santos has struggled doesn’t mean that Santos cannot put his shin upside Hill’s head. “Sweet Dreams” still has to be careful!
That warning aside, pressure and combination punching are Hill’s path to victory. Santos has never been a refined boxer. Outside of his check hook, he doesn’t fare well in extended combinations. Hill can limit his opponent’s dangerous kicks by backing Santos towards the fence then putting together more than three punches.
If Hill can make his opponent uncomfortable along the fence, that left hand will land.
Key Wins: Jan Blachowicz (UFC Fight Night 145), Johnny Walker (UFC Vegas 38), Jimi Manuwa (UFC 231), Anthony Smith (UFC Fight Night 125), Jack Hermansson (UFC Fight Night 119), Eryk Anders (UFC Fight Night 137)
Key Losses: Jon Jones (UFC 239), Magomed Ankalaev (UFC Vegas 50), Glover Teixeira (UFC Vegas 13), Aleksandr Rakic (UFC 259), Gegard Mousasi (UFC 200)
Keys to Victory: I still have hope that the Santos of old will return. “Marreta” still punches damn hard and kicks like a mule, but as of late, he’s simply refusing to engage at a rate that is likely to win fights. From a man known for wild aggression, it’s really been sad to watch.
The key to victory, then, is simple. Santos has to throw! Win or lose, his recent performances have not showed a decline in his overall power, speed or durability. When he does whip an overhand or fire a head kick, Santos still looks very dangerous.
Hill is not a defensive master or overly complicated striker. Santos can surely employ his distance striking game to great success if he actually kicks while circling the cage. He’s the far more refined kicker, and if Hill is getting blasted across the chest with kicks, his punches are going to be more telegraphed and easier to counter.
Worst case, Santos can brawl with anyone in the division and stands a fair shot at winning. If he’s on the wrong side of the distance striking, I’d rather see him bite down on his mouthpiece and swing then back away to another decision loss.
The Bottom Line
This is Santos’ last chance.
If the Brazilian comes up short here, he’s lost two in a row and five of his last six. He’s now 38 years old and doesn’t exactly blow the roof off the arenas anymore. Maybe his ranking will save him, but that sounds like a recipe for a pink slip or retirement to me. Conversely, victory helps Santos’ position a great deal, particularly if it’s an aggressive performance. Light Heavyweight is not overflowing with talent, so if Santos can perform again, he’s great for the division.
Hill, meanwhile, has a chance to really rise into the title mix. A third straight win to cap off his already excellent win streak would really prove a huge boost to his momentum, setting him up for a big jump in competition. Two main event wins in a row means something, and it would likely earn Hill a Top 5 challenge next.
At UFC Vegas 59, Jamahal Hill and Thiago Santos will go to war in the main event. Which man will earn the victory?
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.
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