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Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Hill Looks to Enter Upper Echelon with Win Over Santos

Thiago Santos, UFC Vegas 59 Credit: Alex Behunin/Cageside Press

Thiago Santos wants to reassert his place in the light heavyweight ranking, while Jamal Hill hopes to take a spot at UFC Vegas 59.

Going into his latest bout, it was clear Thiago Santos had work to do. Saturday will be his fourth straight fight against emerging light heavyweight contenders, and it feels like he’s entered a field that’s being used to build the next batch of rising stars rather than build himself. In addition, he beat Jonny Walker 1-2 in the last three matches, losing to No. 1 contenders Aleksandr Rakic ​​and Margomed Ankaraev.

Considering it was the same man who blazed a trail of destruction at middleweight and light heavyweight, the latest results raise their questions. On the one hand, has his age (38) and a knee injury he suffered against Jon Jones in 2019 that required surgery and a year-long layoff dented his once intimidating abilities, This is a question. Another way of saying that he’s just met elite competitors who have more tapes to learn than ever before to prepare him; remember, three of his last four opponents have either already won championships or A shortlist to take the title or knock out the champion at their next match. “Maretta” still has the power to make him a breakout star, and he’ll need to make a big difference Saturday if he wants to stay at the top of the division.

Jamahal Hill is ready to take Santos’ place in the division’s upper echelon if there is a victory on Saturday. “Sweet Dreams” led 5-0 mostly in his hometown of Grand Rapids, Michigan, then shot Dana White’s Contender Collection In 2019, he was awarded a contract in a second-round knockout. Since then, his meteoric rise has made him one of the program’s most famous alumni, as he goes 4-1 in the cut and is the only player other than Giga Chikadze in the UFC Main Event. Winning Contenders Series veteran. His only setback during that time was a positive test for marijuana, which overturned one of his UFC victories to a no-fight and loss to Paul Craig in 2019.

In the last two fights, Hill saw the next exciting thing in the recently rejuvenated light heavyweight division. He stopped Contenders series alum and veteran Jimmy Crut in less than a minute in December, and in February he threw out Johnny in Hill’s first UFC main event. Walker. Now paired with Santos, the UFC clearly sees the 31-year-old as having the potential to tie Jan Blajovic, Rakić, Ankaraev and other heavyweight top-five contenders.

The key for Santos is to be the aggressor and work on the taller Hill’s body. Hill’s speed and size will make it difficult for the former title challenger, so he should target Hill’s legs and body when looking for opportunities. Shot selection will be key as he has to pick up the pace to avoid sinking into the scorecard deficit like he has in recent games. Working behind his runs and straight punches will be key for Hill as he shoots in and out of the shorter, duller Santos. As the fight continues, expect Santos to slow down so Hill can open up with longer combos.

The winner of this fight will likely wait to see who will be Jiri Prochazka’s next title challenger and when the title fight will take place. With several contenders in the game for good reason, it’s guaranteed that one of the oddballs will fight for the next title, and the winner of Santos and Hill will be the perfect match for several of the contenders in the conversation middle.

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