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LineStar® Weekly Knockout (UFC) - Fight Night Santos vs. Hill

Chris Guy (MMA Expert)
Chris Guy (MMA Expert)
We’re Back With Another LineStar Weekly Knockout!
Written by LineStar contributor, combat sports enthusiast, and practitioner, Chris Guy.
Instagram: @therealsethgeko & Twitter: @DadHallOfFamer

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Yesterday was only but a week ago…
There we were, Mary Jane and me chillin’, maxin’ and relaxin’ in the loveseat, feeling expialidocious up 9-3 on the pick ‘em before the main event.  Before we knew it, the champ was once again doing champ things.  Composed, tactful, measured, and in no hurry, savoring, relishing the twenty-five-minute climb back to the top, the GOAT was in prime form.  For Amanda Nunes, it was a renewing of vows, nuptials between her and the game set in stone.  
The faithful followers of the Weekly KO know I often talk about losing/failure and its importance.  In the hierarchy of life, there’s breathing then losing.  Without loss, there’s no growth.  To lose is to be in harmony with one’s mortality, to embrace it, have it over for a few doobies and get to know it.  Vanquish the fear of it, and render it powerless over you.
A life without adversity makes you soft; be wary of those who feel entitled to one.  When the shit hits the fan, they’ll be locked in panic rooms and won’t last a day past the last can of Chef Boyardee.
Brandon Moreno and Amanda Nunes regained their titles after losses, leaving behind Juliana Peña beaten and battered and Kai Kara-France’s Shout-sprayed chonies on a hanger blowing in the wind.  Once again, two champs sit upon their thrones, and all seems right in the MMA world.
Main Card
Traigo Santos (+240) vs Jamahal Hill (-330)
Santos: DK: $7.2k | Hill: DK:$9k
Sports are endless relay races, the baton forever passing from the hands of fading stars into the hands of those with the promise of one day reaching supernova.  Much like Rage Against The Machine became Rage With The Machine, Thiago Santos went from serial killer to victim, the complete opposite.  While Jamahal Hill went from a businessman to a business, man.  In just six UFC fights, Hill has already traveled a Jeep commercial path to becoming a headlining act, and a win against Santos will put him one fight away from a title shot and a chance to trademark his hustle and franchise.  A win for Santos would mean tossing the baton fifty rows deep into the crowd and saying, “F**k your baton.”
Jamahal Hill is no longer a sleeper in the light heavyweight division.  Well, in a sense, he always will be; he sleeps people like ASMR.  Jamahal Hill, aka Dr. Sleep.  In his last bout against Jonny Walker, Hill landed a right hand in the first round that made Walker bow like he just finished conducting an orchestra before pitching over backward and collapsing unconscious against the cage.  On some Beethoven-type shit.  It looked like Walker was trying to start the wave in an empty stadium, like a Vegas DJ hyping the crowd, like my first attempt at a backflip on the low dive at the Y.  
Along with Jiri Prochazka, Hill is one of the best natural strikers in the division.  He’s a southpaw, and his jab took all AP courses in high school; it’s highly educated.  Jamahal manages distance at an elite level and has a left hand that can execute any life insurance policy without fear of an ID Network three-part tell-all documentary.  Hill has an excellent high output and attacks the body regularly with combinations.  The counter check-hook is Hill’s most often-used defensive weapon and is usually the catalyst for setting off a series of unfortunate events for his opponents. 
Jamahal will be the more technical striker against Thiago Santos, and the key for Hill will be lateral movement and avoiding tie-ups against the cage.  Santos has shown a recent propensity to clinch and slow-play fights and Hill’s best weapon will be his aggression and output.  Hill averages seven significant strikes landed per minute and won’t allow much of a feeling-out process.  For his career, Hill is 10-1 with six TKO/KO’s and 4-1-1 in the UFC with a win on the Contender Series.  Since having his arm snapped in half by Paul Craig a year ago, Hill has gone on a two-fight first-round KO winning streak.
Thiago Santos peaked in a title fight against Jon Jones, a fight he won but didn’t get the belt because the judges stormed the Octagon wearing Dead Presidents masks and held him up at gunpoint.  He started that beating-Jon-Jones-but-getting-robbed-by-the-judges-ish; and this is the thanks he gets?  Unfortunately, Santos destroyed both his knees in that fight and has gone 1-3 since.  When an athlete loses confidence in his/her body, no amount of hard work and dedication will overcome it.  Santos’ trademark aggression and the chaos that ensues have been MIA except in very rare bursts.
Prime Santos used both stances to engage with flurries he could direct unpredictably in any direction.  He had KO power from both stances and would time and calculate short blitzes.  He overwhelmed opponents with wide looping hooks and overhands until they crumbled from the pressure.  Santos has never been a high output striker, he was always a blitz striker, but those blitzes now come less and less frequently.  
His only chance against Jamahal Hill is to put Hill on the defense and not let him get any forward momentum.  If he sits back and waits, he’ll get picked apart, and it has been a few years since Santos scored a takedown.  Hill will be in his face, and Santos will have to meet him halfway.  Hit a straight on the river, all in.  
Santos is 22-10 for his career and 14-9 in the UFC with fifteen TKO/KO’s and one sub.  He averages just over three and a half significant strikes landed per minute and has only hit one hundred once.  If you’re looking for value in Santos, it’s in a finish, and that’s it.  But he hasn’t recorded a finish in his last five fights.  Experience will be firmly in his corner, and he’ll always be capable of landing a fight-changing strike at any moment.
The future, Jamahal Hill, will be the big (-275) favorite, and a finish is the way to approach a bet in his favor.  Santos, well, the main event curse is on his side and might be worth dropping an Andy Jack on.  After back-to-back freak injuries and Juliana Peña sprinting forty-yard dashes into Amanda Nunes right hands… You can do the math.  Jamahal Hill via TKO, round two.
Winner: Jamahal Hill | Method: TKO Rd.2
Hill Proj:98
Hill Proj:98
Vicente Luque (-190) vs. Geoff Neal (+155)
Luque: DK: $8.5k | Neal: DK: $7.7k
This is a battle of gatekeepers working at the Bridge of Death vying for the spot on the day shift vacated by Donald Cerrone.  Vicente Luque and Geoff Neal are guys who are just below the championship level but make for entertaining matchups against anyone you pit them against.  Vicente Luque has quietly been one of the best finishers in the welterweight division, having finished thirteen of his fourteen promotional wins.  And Geoff Neal has Mega Man cannons in both hands that can change opponents from a solid to a gas in a blink.
 In recent fights, Geoff Neal has been a True Value version of himself.  In 2019, he was rolling through opponents like Suge Knight in a parking lot.  He vaporized Mike Perry and scattered him on a beach but became oddly passive in his next three fights.  His most recent bout was a very close decision victory over “The Ponz” Santiago Ponzinibio, and late in the third round, he finally showed some urgency and dogged out a dub.
Neal is a menacing southpaw with heavy power round kicks and overhands.  He’s a short combination striker averaging over four and a half significant strikes landed per minute.  The high end of his striking output tops out at around eighty strikes landed for a three-round scrap.  The Suge Knight in a pick-up Geoff Neal will have to show up against Vicente Luque.  Combinations and consistent pressure will be the keys for Neal.  Be first, and be often.  Life’s best piece of advice.  When in doubt, be the first to bomb.  Bomb first and ask questions later.
The numbers: Neal is 14-4 for his career and 7-2 in the UFC, five of those seven dubs came in the form of a finish.  Neal will be stepping in as the (+145) dog and will have a lot of value as a lower-tier fighter, but scoring a finish will be tough against Vicente Luque who has never been finished on the feet, only by submission.  Neal is strong in the clinch and could look to make this ugly against the cage and try to drag Luque to the mat.  Vicente’s biggest hole is takedown defense, and Neal has nasty ground and pound if he can get him down.
Luque is the rare striker who can submit or knock you out.  Luque has noineteen finishes in twenty-one career dubs, eight by submission.  Vicente is a master at using D’arce/Brabo chokes (guillotine variations) to defend takedowns.  They come in handy when every fighter you face dives for your legs like Greg Louganis. 
But Luque’s specialty is knocking people out; he’s an aggressive striker with a left hook that melts people.  Luque averages just under five and a half significant strikes landed per minute and has been in firefights where he’s reached over one hundred thirty in a three-round fight twice.  
Calf kicks will be a key for Luque who is known for hacking off lower limbs with a high volume of attacks.  Historically, Luque is the more aggressive fighter, and the fight will be his to lose; Luque is a veteran with a cape on, a super veteran, who has fought almost every big name in the division.  There isn’t a style of stand-up he hasn’t seen.  This fight will come down to who is the busier fighter and has split-decision written all over it.  In his most recent bout, Belal Muhammad grounded Luque for five rounds and took away his Xbox and iPhone.  Belal scored five takedowns, one in each round, and controlled Luque on the mat long enough to earn a unanimous decision.
A finish will be tough to come by for both fighter, and Luque is the (-175) favorite.  This one is pretty much a toss-up, and I’ve gone back and forth on it.  Vicente Luque via decision.  On wax.
Winner: Vicente Luque | Method: Decision
Luque Proj:71
Luque Proj:71
Mohammed Usman (+200) vs. Zac Pauga (-250)
Usman: DK: $7.3k | Pauga: DK: $8.9k
New Usman, who dis?  It’s hard to imagine there’s a bigger, stronger Usman lurking out there than Kamaru.  He’s not better, though.  This is the Ultimate Fighter Heavyweight Finale, featuring the younger brother of the welterweight king.  I can’t imagine Kamaru and Mohammed scrapping as kids; the neighborhood probably drew straws to determine who had to break it up.  They were probably tapping out their pappy by seven years old and sending him to bed without a pudding snack.  
When it comes to overall skill, Mohammed is Usman Lite, not yet near the same level as his champion brother.  But Mohammed does remind me of Kamaru when Kamaru was on the Ultimate Fighter.  Kamaru had raw striking, powerful but not technical or intricate.  Mohammed is much of the same, power for months but not much technical prowess.  His biggest technical deficiency is his lack of footwork; he’s flatfooted and often stands directly in front of the opponent and swings for the fences.
You can’t overstate his power, though.  He throws heavy, wide-arching Thor hammers; the draft from a missed punched would be strong enough to knock me out.  Even when his punches are blocked, they cause damage.  If he ever develops a real jab and Pinocchio ever becomes a real boy, he could be a problem.  Usman tends to look down at the mat, duck his head, and wing heavy overhands.  Every time he uses his lead hand, he ducks to his power side and is vulnerable to kick/knee counters.  
Usman will be facing a more technical striker in Zac Pauga and will be the (+190) underdog.  The game plan will be to pressure Pauga, cut the cage, trap him, and throw haymakers.  Power is the great equalizer and can cover up a lot of blemishes.  Usman is 7-2 for his career with three TKO/KO’s and two subs.
Zac Pauga is 5-0 and had a win over a former UFC veteran, Markus Perez, before going on the Ultimate Fighter.  He was by far the best striker on the show and is undersized for the division.  Pauga will likely drop down to light heavyweight after the finale like most do after the show.  In the original Ultimate Fighter there were lightweights like Kenny Florian and Diego Sanchez fighting all the way up at middleweight just for a shot at the big show. 
Pauga has clean, tight stand-up and uses short combinations and pull counters to defend.  He’ll have a speed advantage over Usman, and straight punches beat round punches every day of the week.  Uman throws wide hands, while Pauga can throw down the middle making his speed advantage even more significant.  The question for Pauga is; can he withstand Usman’s power?
Early odds have Pauga as the (-240) favorite, and the fight ending under two and a half rounds is even money.  The over is (-130).  What to do?  Keep it moving.  I wouldn’t bet this fight if I had your money.  But Fantasy-wise, why not take a chance on Usman?  From what I saw on the show, his cardio held up in the three-round semifinal, and it only takes one shot from him to end the fight.  In five career wins, Pauga has only one lonely TKO/KO and might not be a finishing threat.  And his output won’t be staggering.  Anywho, Zac Pauga via decision.  
Winner: Zac Pauga | Method: Decision
Brogan Walker (-105) vs. Juliana Miller (-125)
Walker: DK: $7.9k | Miller: DK: $8.3k
Juliana Miller is reppin’ San Dee, San Dee, San Dee-let-go-of-my-muhf**kin-ego, California.  She fights out of Tenth Planet Jiu-Jitsu in San Diego, and I rolled in a Jiu-Jitsu class she was in a couple of years ago when she was still an amateur.  Killer Miller is a grappling specialist who suffers from elephantiasis of the heart.  She’s a savage; her only reaction is overreaction; her only speed is one hundred mph.  Juliana’s walk-out song should be Never Scared by Bone Crusher.  Her heart pumps no fear, and the only direction she moves is forward, straight into the face of danger.
Miller’s best weapon is constant pressure, whether on the feet or the mat.  Her striking isn’t very good—much like Mackenzie Dern early in her career—but she never stops coming forward behind long looping punches.  The key in every Killer Miller fight is volume, volume strikes and submission attempts.  Miller may not have been the most skilled fighter in the house, but she was by far the toughest, mentally and physically.  She’s a Ruth Langmore first team selection; you’re gonna have to kill her.
Miller is only 2-1 as a professional, with both wins coming via submission.  Brogan Walker will be the more experienced fighter, having already faced UFC-level competition in Invicta FC.  She has a win over Miranda Maverick and a loss to up-and-comer Erin Blanchfield and has yet to be finished.  But despite her experience, Brogan will be stepping in as the slight (+110) dog.     
Brogan is an LA Fitness boxer with square, boxy punches.  Physically, she will be the stronger and more athletic fighter, and her game plan will be to keep the fight standing at all costs.  Everything about her striking is stiff and forced, and her head is welded to her shoulders and never moves off the centerline.  She is a right-handed southpaw, meaning she leads with her power hand like Amanda Nunes did on Saturday.  
Walker makes up for technical deficiencies with constant pressure and won’t shy away from a firefight.  Much like Juliana Miller, Brogan Walker goes for it and has that dog in her.  She showed solid takedown defense in her semifinal bout, and if she can keep the fight standing, she’ll have a significant advantage on the feet.  But she’ll have to move her head at least once.
The finishing threat will be Juliana Miller.  In seven career wins, Walker has only one finish, a submission.   Fantasy-wise, if the fight stays standing, Walker should rack up solid significant strikes because she’s a Doomsday camper in the pocket and throws mostly combinations.  The odds (-350) all but guarantee the fight goes the distance.  But if you feel like howling at the moon, the fight ending under two and a half rounds will return (+250) odds, and if that happens, Juliana Miller will be your Huckleberry.  Juliana Miller via decision.  
Winner: Juliana Miller | Method: Decision
Augusto Sakai (+205) vs Sergey Spivak (-250)
Sakai: DK: $7.4k | Spivak: DK: $8.8k
This is Sloth from Goonies vs. The Michelin Man.  Sergey Spivak is the former, and Augusto Sakai is the latter.  If you fast-forward this fight, it’ll still look like it’s in slow motion.  Spivak has lost in transit hand speed; they don’t even try to fight you; they just reimburse you without questions.  And Augusto Sakai moves like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man stomping through New York City.  This will be a battle of attrition for everybody watching.
Spivak relies mostly on takedowns and heavy top control to chip away with intermittent ground and pound while hunting for submissions.  The key for Spivak will be closing the distance and fighting in a phone booth against the cage.  Sakai might not be the sexiest striker in the game, but he has sleeper power and can end Spivak’s night early if this turns into a kickboxing match.  Sakai is a victim on his back.  He needs all three timeouts and a commercial break to get back to his feet.  Takedowns and ground and pound are the keys for Sergei.
Sakai is built like the Michelin Man, but that doesn’t mean you should feel comfortable bumping your gums if you catch him sitting alone at the local Applebees with a two-for twenty-meal all to himself.  Probably more like a two-for forty meal after inflation.
Sakai fights in bursts, blitzes, and flurries, and everything Sakai throws is heavy.  He has excellent leg kicks and a nasty overhand right and throws a counter-right as he exits the pocket while moving backward.  It’s a KO waiting to happen.  He throws hooks palm-down and sneaks them around the guard three to four at a time.  But Sakai tends to shoe shine his combinations (a quick succession of short strikes with little power, used to steal points) instead of sitting down on them.  Check out Oscar De La Hoya vs. Floyd Mayweather if you want to see an example of shoe shining; Oscar tried to shoeshine Floyd’s body all night to steal points, and a dubious decision win.  It didn’t work.            
But none of that matters if Sakai can’t defend Spivak’s takedowns.  Sakai sports a fifty percent takedown defense, and if you’re in the mood for some foreshadowing, go back and watch him fight Alistair Overeem.  Once The Reem got the fight to the mat, he administered a beating the likes of which I haven’t seen since Wild Things came out on VHS.  As the (+180) dog, Sakai will have serious value as a low tier option.  He’s 15-4 for his career with eleven TKO/KO’s.  In the UFC, he’s 5-3 with three TKO/KO’s but is riding a three-fight KO losing streak. 
Spivak is also a finisher, with twelve of his fourteen career dubs coming by finish, six subs and six TKO/KO’s.  His path to victory is on the mat, beating up Sakai before snatching his neck.  The over for two and a half rounds is (+140), the under (-185).  A decision would favor Spivak taking down and grinding Sakai for three rounds, and I think that’s definitely a possible outcome.  Sergey Spivak via decision.
Winner: Sergey Spivak | Method: Decision
Spivak Proj:78
Spivak Proj:78
Ariane Lipski (-170) vs Priscila Cachoeira (+140)
Lipski: DK: $8.4k | Cachoeira: DK: $7.8k
This is a matchup of 3-4 UFC records and the definition of a toss-up.  It will be a clash of styles on the feet; Ariane Lipski is the more technical, traditional striker, while Priscila Cachoeira howls at the moon and throws nothing but live hand grenades.  
Cachoeira wades into the pocket like she’s storming the beaches of Normandy, throwing nothing but overhands and hooks.  She’s the new female version of the legend Chris Leben.  Her nickname is Zombie Girl, and it’s quite fitting.  She stumbles forward like a fiend from The Evil Dead, throwing self-checkout haymakers until she either wins or loses.  Cachoeira made her UFC debut in 2008 against Valentina Shevchenko and almost made it to the third round.  That’s over nine minutes longer than anyone reading (or writing) this would last.
Lipski will be the (-175) favorite mostly because she looks the part of a better striker than Cachoeira.  She has tight, straight hands but is very vanilla.  There’s no creativity to her striking, it’s stock, no upgrades.  She averages fewer than three and a half significant strikes landed per minute, while Cachoeira lands at four and a half. The underrated part of her game is her guard on the mat.  She has three submission wins for her career and two were initiated from her back, a knee bar and an armbar.
The odds favor over two and a half rounds at (-230), and a finish before (+175).  I think both can score a finish but Cachoeira’s power and pressure style makes her the bigger threat.  Give me the dog, Priscila Cachoeira via decision.
Winner: Priscila Cachoeira | Method: Decision
Cachoeira Proj:50
Cachoeira Proj:50
If you don't know, now you know
If you don't know, now you know
Value Menu
Sam Alvey (+450) vs Michal Oleksiejczuk (-700)
Alvey: DK: $6.9k | Oleksiejczuk: DK: $9.3k
In his last seven fights, Sam Alvey has any many dubs as you and I do. Zero point zero. My man is rocking an 0-6-1 stretch, and I thought we had seen the last of “Smiling” Sam after his last loss but here we are.
The only way to make some scratch on a fight with these odds is to prop bet the method/round for a finish. Oleksiejczuk is an awkward striker with stupid power and is somewhat of a sleeper. His only weakness is on the mat, but he can stand and bang with anyone. A first-round finish of any manner will return (+200) odds, but my sweet spot is always second-round finishes, and a second-round finish for Michal will return (+425).
Oleksiejczuk Proj:94
Oleksiejczuk Proj:94
Terrance McKinney (-1000) vs Erick Gonzalez (+600)
McKinney: DK: $9.5k | Gonzalez: DK: $6.7k
This is another fight where a finish is all but guaranteed. Mostly because Terrance McKinney is the definition of kill or be killed and doesn’t get paid by the hour and ends fights one way or the other inside five minutes. McKinney has a one hundred percent career finishing streak and is 2-1 in the UFC, and all have ended inside one round. His debut was a seven-second trouncing of the tough Matt Frevola, and he’s coming off a first-round TKO loss to the little savage Drew Dober. McKinney had Dober skating around the mall on a pair of Heelys in the opening seconds but couldn’t seal the deal and was TKO’d.
Again, we’ll have to dip into the prop bets for this one, but the value is in an early finish. Any finish in the second round for McKinney will return (+425) odds, and any specific method of finish for McKinney will return plus money. In twelve career wins, McKinney has five TKO/KO’s and seven subs. A TKO/KO finish for McKinney will return (+115) and a sub (+130). Gonzalez is a tough fighter but only has one UFC appearance, a second-round KO loss to Jim Miller. The grappling will be heavily in McKinney’s favor, and this one feels like a Cal Ripken 2001 All-Star game grooved pitch to get McKinney back in the winning column.
McKinney Proj:107
McKinney Proj:107
Twenty-Twen-Twen Sleepers
Twenty-Ten-Twen Sleepers
This might be one of the sorriest packs of dogs I’ve seen in a while, a bunch of toy poodles yapping at some Dobermans. This might be one of those cards to play some favorites and prop bets. But the top of the billing will provide a couple of dogs with a legit shot.
Mohammed Usman (+200) is built like a shit brickhouse house, or is that a brick shithouse? Either way, the dude is huge and throws Napalm bombs all over the Octagon. Add in the championship pedigree of his brother and the knowledge he can provide Mohammed, and you have an excellent recipe for an upset.
Geoff Neal (+155) can bang with anyone in the division if he gets his mental game right. He has the power and technical ability to go toe-to-toe with Vicente Luque, and Luque tends to absorb a lot of damage in fights. This one will come down to the wire, and Neal should be neck and neck heading down the final stretch.
Pick ‘Em
Sam Alvey (+450) vs. Michal Oleksiejczuk (-700)
            Winner: Michal Oleksiejczuk
            Method: TKO Rd.2
Terrance McKinney (-1000) vs. Erick Gonzale (+600)
            Winner: Terrance McKinney
            Method: Rear-Naked Choke Rd.1
Bryan Battle (-280) vs. Takashi Sato (+210)
    Winner: Bryan Battle
            Method: Decision
Jason Witt (+180) vs. Josh Quinlan (-240)
    Winner: Josh Quinlan
            Method: TKO Rd.3
Cory McKenna (-220) vs. Miranda Granger (+175)
    Winner: Cory McKenna
            Method: Decision
Mayra Bueno Silva (+105) vs. Stephanie Edgar (-125)
    Winner: Mayra Bueno Silva
            Method: Decision
Thanks for reading LineStar Weekly Knockout! We’ll be back next Thursday with another one. Until then, good luck and support your local MMA Gym.
About Me
My name is Chris Guy, and I’m an avid combat sports enthusiast and practitioner. I’ve been a fan of MMA since the early 2000s when Limewire was still around, and I downloaded Bas Rutten’s Big Book of Combat. In 2004, I started training Muay Thai at City Boxing in San Diego, CA. I competed as an amateur for many years, and I’ve also dabbled in Jiu-Jitsu. I follow many different disciplines, such as Combat Ji-Jitsu, Muay Thai, Glory Kickboxing, Boxing, and MMA.
I’m equally as enthusiastic about the craft of writing, and in addition to writing about combat sports, I also write short fiction and music. I hope to bring unique prose to sports writing, and along the way, encourage people to not only become Martial Arts fans but to also become Martial Artists themselves. 
In the future, you may see me refer to the Thunderdome; it’s an ode to the old Mad Max movie and refers to the world-class training facility I built in my one-car garage. It’s complete with throw dummies, wrestling mats, heavy bags, and six months’ worth of Chef Boyardee cans from when I thought the world was going to end back in March. I hope you enjoy my work, and if you don’t, the Thunderdome has an open door policy. 
Check out my Podcast The Whiskey (S)ick Podcast on Apple and Spotify. Parental Advisory Warning
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Chris Guy (MMA Expert)
Chris Guy (MMA Expert) @LineStarApp


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