The primary occasion of Saturday’s UFC Vegas battle card may trigger some vital motion within the promotion’s mild heavyweight rankings. Heading into the competition, Thiago Santos is the No. 6 ranked competitor, whereas his opponent, Jamahal Hill, checks in at No. 10.
Santos, who’s a former UFC mild heavyweight title challenger, has not been the identical since he dropped a split-decision to then-champion Jon Jones in July 2019. Santos entered that contest with a 21-6 document with 15 knockout wins — together with his three fights main into his matchup reverse Jones. Together with his loss to Jones, Santos is 1-4 in his previous 5 outings.
Hill, who had his first skilled MMA battle lower than two years earlier than Santos confronted Jones for UFC gold, is 10-1-0-1 and coming off two knockout wins underneath the UFC banner. Together with a devastating and memorable finish over Johnny Walker in his first alternative to headline a UFC occasion.
To be honest, evaluating wins and losses between these two males is deceptive. Santos’ defeats because the Jones setback have come to the highest of the UFC’s mild heavyweight division. Glover Teixeira, Aleksandar Rakic and Magomed Ankalaev vanquished Santos in these scraps. These males are at present ranked No. 1, No. 4 and No. 3 within the UFC’s 205-pound weight class. Hill’s two most up-to-date wins are over Jimmy Crute and Walker. Crute is ranked at No. 15 and Walker is the No. 13 fighter within the division.
And that’s what makes this battle intriguing and vital. Santos has maintained his lofty rating primarily based on the efficiency of his opponents and his fearsome fame. If he loses to Hill, a fighter who carries the prospect tag rather more than fighters like Rakic and Ankalaev — who’re real potential title challengers — Santos may fall from the top-10. And at 38 years of age, his hopes of each getting again into the title hunt would seemingly be dashed.
As for Hill, who is kind of studying on the job as a member of the UFC since 2020, that is the battle that would permit him to shed the prospect tag and be a part of rising fighters like Rakic and Ankalaev as the subsequent era of title challengers.
Santos has not been the identical fighter since he misplaced to Jones. He underwent surgery on each legs after that setback and since then, his strategy to the battle recreation has modified an excellent deal. The place he was as soon as an attacking striker with a devastating kicking recreation, he has appeared nearly reluctant to be the aggressor in his fights. A form individual would name him affected person. Hill was extra blunt in his assessment of his opponent, saying that Santos is “actually f-cking gun shy now. He not likely coming to bang. He not likely attempting to battle.”
As for Hill, who’s impressively and coldly confident, his previous two wins have are available in underneath 4 minutes mixed. The 31-year-old is creating into one of the vital efficient strikers within the UFC mild heavyweight division.
It’s not an understatement to say this battle may decide the trajectory of each these combatants.