UFC Fight Night: Walker vs. Hill Preview

Johnny Walker takes on Jamahal Hill in the UFC Vegas 48 main card slot in a light-heavyweight showdown on Saturday night at the UFC APEX.

Johnny Walker has been accepted with open arms by Irish mixed martial arts fans since joining up with John Kavanagh at SBG in early 2020. The Brazilian, known for his wild antics inside the cage, has explosive power, and a kill or be killed attitude once he steps foot inside the octagon. That mentality has seen Walker pull off some wonderful finishes in the past, but has also got him into trouble in other fights. Against former title challenger Thiago Santos we saw a more controlled Walker, a Walker that was certainly more defensively sound. Many fans were left wondering where the “old” Walker. I feel the Brazilian performed well, and I expect to see a more improved light-heavyweight on Saturday night against rising prospect Jamahal Hill.

Hill was left disappointed when he lost his undefeated streak against Paul Craig. The loss left Hill with not only the first defeat of his career, but also a broken arm and recovery spell on the sidelines. The rising 205-pounder came back in a blaze of glory when he knocked out Jimmy Crute in less the one-minute last December. That win brought his hype back and put him right into his first main event slot with Walker this Saturday night. I’ve got a good feeling that this is a fight that will not disappoint.

For Walker, he needs to find the right balance between his explosiveness and not leaving himself exposed when on the attack. At times in the Santos fight Walker maybe came across a little too defensive. More time to work with John Kavanagh will help Johnny Walker find that balance and I’m excited to see what he brings to the table on Saturday night. Hill is a fantastic boxer, he has super fast combinations and is not afraid to stay in the pocket to get those shots off. He did show some weakness in the grappling department, we might see Walker trying to expose those flaws. Likely outcome of this main event is that this battle will mostly play out on the feet. This is the biggest test of Jamahal Hill’s career, for Walker this his his opportunity to take out a top prospect and change his status in the 205-pound division the title contender. I’m expecting this to be a very exciting battle between to very attack minded warriors.

In the co-main event Kyle Daukaus takes on short notice replacement Jamie Pickett in a ultra rare catchweight bout at 195 lbs. Parker Porter and Alan Baudot will clash in a heavyweight showdown, Porter has won his last two and defeated Chase Sherman in his last outing. Baudot is without a win in his UFC tenure having as he was beaten by Tom Aspinall on his debut, he was knocked out by Rodrigo Nascimento last time out, Nascimento failed a USADA test in the aftermath and the fight was labelled a No Contest.

Jim Miller, an absolute legend of the game, goes toe-to-toe with Nikolas Motta in the lightweight division. This will be Miller’s 50th time to make the walk whit is a phenomenal achievement. Miller is still picking up great win too, a massive knockout win over Erick Gonzalez last August sets him up nicely coming into this fight with Motta. The Brazilian will have the chance to take out a legend on his UFC debut after being rewarded a contrat on the Contender Series in 2020. Opening up the main card, Joaquin Buckley will look to best Abdul Razak Alhassan in what should be a firefight in the middleweight division.

Christian Rodriguez, who is undefeated in his first seven fights, will make his UFC debut in the featherweight division against Jonathan Pearce. Last September, Pearce picked up a submission win over Omar Morales and will be looking to keep his winning streak alive. Mario Bautista lost to Trevin Jones in his last trip to the cage, the Arizona native takes on Jay Perrin in the bantamweight division. Perrin will make his first appearance under the UFC banner.

The fight of the undercard for me is between Gabriel Benítez and David Onama in the 145-pound division. Benítez comes into this fight with tons more fight experience than his Ugandan opponent with this being his 32nd bout. The Mexican was beaten by Billy Quarantillo last time out and will also have his hands full in this encounter. Onama is just nine fights into his career and has vicious knockout power. All his wins are finishes with five knockout stoppages and three by way of submission. Jessica-Rose Clark goes up against Stephanie Egger in the women’s bantamweight division. Chas Skelly will lock horns with Mark Striegl in a featherweight contest.

Diana Belbiţă picked up a solid win over Hannah Goldy last time out, the Romanian strawweight takes on Gloria de Paula who has lost in her last two outings. Canadian born, Chad Anheliger will make his UFC debut off the back on a 9-fight win-streak as he takes on Jesse Strader in the bantamweight division. Montel Jackson finished Strader in one round in his only fight of 2021 and the American will be eager to get back into the win column. That fight opens up the card.

Main Card (ESPN+)

Light Heavyweight: Johnny Walker vs. Jamahal Hill

Catchweight (195 lb): Kyle Daukaus vs. Jamie Pickett

Heavyweight: Parker Porter vs. Alan Baudot

Lightweight: Jim Miller vs. Nikolas Motta

Middleweight: Joaquin Buckley vs. Abdul Razak Alhassan

Preliminary Card (ESPN+)

Featherweight: Jonathan Pearce vs. Christian Rodriguez

Bantamweight: Mario Bautista vs. Jay Perrin

Featherweight: Gabriel Benítez vs. David Onama

Women’s Bantamweight: Jessica-Rose Clark vs. Stephanie Egger

Featherweight: Chas Skelly vs. Mark Striegl

Women’s Strawweight: Diana Belbiţă vs. Gloria de Paula

Bantamweight: Chad Anheliger vs. Jesse Strader

Ian O'Neill is the host of the SevereMMA UFC Preview show and one of the co-hosts of The Auld Triangle - Irish MMA podcast. You can find more of Ian's work on the SevereMMA Patreon where he co-hosts The Chasing Pack and The Contender. Follow him on Twitter and on Instagram @ioneillmma

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