UFC Fight Night Report: Jamahal Hill knocks out Johnny Walker in the first round

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UFC Fight Night Report: Jamahal Hill knocks out Johnny Walker in the first round

By: Eric Marcotte 

On Saturday evening, the UFC held a Fight Night event at the Apex facility in Las Vegas, Nevada. Originally, this card was set to be headlined by a lightweight bout between Rafael dos Anjos and Rafael Fiziev, but visa issues on Fiziev’s end forced the UFC to move that fight back to UFC 272 in two weeks time. In need of a new main event for this card, the UFC decided that Johnny Walker’s bout against Jamahal Hill would be best suited to fill that role, and the light heavyweight contest was changed from a three-round fight to a five-round fight on just over a week’s notice. Both of these fighters are known for their knockout power, and the hope going into this one was that this would stylistically make for a very entertaining bout. Walker came into this fight as the tenth-ranked light heavyweight contender, so this main event slot marked quite the opportunity for Jamahal Hill to carve out a spot for himself in the top ten of the division. Elsewhere on the card, Jim Miller made his 39th UFC appearance, facing Nikolas Motta, who was making his promotional debut.

Jon Anik provided commentary for this card alongside Paul Felder and Dominick Cruz. Performance of the Night bonuses were awarded to Jamahal Hill, Kyle Daukaus, David Onama, Stephanie Egger.

QUICK RESULTS:

*Mario Bautista def. Jay Perrin by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-26)

*Jonathan Pearce def. Christian Rodriguez by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)

*Chad Anheliger def. Jesse Strader by TKO at 3:33 of Round 3

*Gloria De Paula def. Diana Belbita by unanimous decision (29-28 all)

*Chas Skelly def. Mark Striegl by TKO at 2:01 of Round 2

*Stephanie Egger def. Jessica-Rose Clark by armbar at 3:44 of Round 1

*David Onama def. Gabriel Benitez by KO 4:24 of Round 1

*Joaquin Buckley def. Abdul Razak Alhassan by split decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-29)

*Jim Miller def. Nikolas Motta by TKO at 1:58 of Round 2

*Parker Porter def. Alan Baudot by unanimous decision (29-28 all)

*Kyle Daukaus def. Jamie Pickett by D’Arce Choke at 4:59 of Round 1

*Jamahal Hill def. Johnny Walker by KO at 2:55 of Round 1

MARIO BAUTISTA (8-2, 135.5) VS JAY PERRIN (10-4, 136) – BANTAMWEIGHT

Bautista partially connected with a flying knee in the opening exchange of the fight. Perrin’s boxing was looking sharp, but he was getting caught by some of Bautista’s more explosive offense and found himself with his back to the cage, where Bautista attempted to bring him to the ground. Perrin defended well and shot for a takedown of his own moments later. He successfully took Bautista down, but could not keep him there for long, and the fight continued on the feet for the remainder of the round. 10-9 Bautista.

Bautista began the second round aggressively, prompting Perrin to return fire with combinations to the body and head. Another flying knee from Bautista connected cleanly, and Perrin started hunting for a takedown afterward, to no success. Bautista was landing strong knees to the body, as well as elbows to the head in the clinch, and it seemed as though he was getting the better of the clinch exchanges against the fence throughout this round. Both fighters connected with strong hooks, which were often preceded by powerful shots to the body. 20-18 Bautista.

Bautista was focused on the takedown throughout the first half of the final round, but Perrin was able to keep things on the feet. Still, he was having trouble creating separation from Bautista and the cage and was caught by a number of heavy elbows from his opponent. With a minute remaining in the round, Bautista finally found his takedown and landed numerous ground and pound strikes before the fight concluded. 30-27 Bautista.

WINNER: Mario Bautista by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-26)

I thought Perrin did some strong work throughout this fight, particularly with his boxing, but Mario Bautista really did a fantastic job of incorporating every aspect of his game here, and his constant activity was quite impressive. Bautista was explosive on the feet, but it was his clinch work throughout this bout that, in my mind, was the greatest difference-maker. Bautista is now 3-2 in the UFC.

JONATHAN PEARCE (11-4, 145.5) VS CHRISTIAN RODRIGUEZ (7-0, 146) – FEATHERWEIGHT

Pearce quickly secured a takedown, which Rodriguez was able to pick himself up from alongside the cage. Pearce brought him back down, but he was caught on a deep guillotine choke in the process. Pearce managed to escape the submission and began to work from the back of Rodriguez. He maintained this position for the remainder of the round, landing numerous strikes in the process. 10-9 Pearce.

Rodriguez seemed to be the more comfortable fighter on the feet, as he pressed forward to begin the second round, throwing combinations of punches, seemingly without much fear of Pearce’s power in response. This did not last for long, however, as Pearce successfully took Rodriguez back to the ground, where he looked to take his back once more. Pearce searched for a rear-naked choke, and while he did not find the submission, this was another strong round in his favor. 20-18 Pearce.

Rodriguez connected with a pair of strong right hands to begin the final round. Pearce attacked a single leg, and Rodriguez decided to engage Pearce in the grappling department, as he turned into Pearce and attempted to take his back. He found success, and while Pearce escaped the position, Rodriguez cracked him with another hard right hand on the break. Pearce was looking hurt, as well as tired, but had it in him to power Rodriguez back to the ground with a double leg, where he began to work from a dominant position once more. Pearce controlled the remainder of the fight, which made this round a bit tougher to score. 29-28 Pearce.

WINNER: Jonathan Pearce by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)

Pearce was able to control the vast majority of this bout on the ground, although Rodriguez kept the fight interesting with his advantage on the feet, especially in the third round. I thought that Rodriguez gave a good account of his abilities despite taking this fight on short notice, creating numerous opportunities for himself on the ground with submission attempts and creative scrambles. Still, Pearce was a step ahead throughout their exchanges on the ground and survived Rodriguez’s third-round attack to secure the victory on the scorecards. With this win, Pearce improved to 3-1 in the UFC

CHAD ANHELIGER (11-5, 135) VS JESSE STRADER (5-2, 135) – BANTAMWEIGHT

Strader brought Anheliger to the ground in the opening minute of the bout. Anheliger threatened a guillotine choke, which allowed him to return to his feet, where he began to walk down Strader with straight right hands. Strader took Anheliger down once again, however, he was unable to keep Anheliger down for long. They exchanged knees to the head upon returning to the feet, and Anheliger dug in with a vicious combination before Strader re-engaged him in the clinch against the cage. They spent the remainder of the round here, and I thought Strader narrowly took this first round.

Strader caught Anheliger with a looping left hand to begin the second round but was caught by a left hook in return, which allowed Anheliger to take him down to the ground, where he began to work from top position. Strader escaped to his feet, landing a hard combination of punches to the head and body moments later. Anheliger threw a series of knees to the head of Strader, before cracking him with a right hook. Anheliger missed with an attempted cartwheel kick to end round two.

Anheliger defended a takedown attempt early in the third round and cut Strader open in the process. Anheliger threw a low kick that prompted Strader to switch stances before Strader responded with a pair of hard kicks to the body. Strader pressured forward but walked into a nasty left hook that dropped him hard, and Anheliger proceeded to end the fight with ground and pound strikes.

WINNER: Chad Anheliger by TKO at 3:33 of Round 3

This was a very competitive fight, and the judges were debating the scorecards shortly before Anheliger landed the left hand that took the judges out of the equation. Strader is not the most experienced fighter, but I don’t think you would be able to tell from his performance against Anheliger here, who was the sizeable favorite. This marked Anheliger’s UFC debut, and the Canadian has a very fan-friendly style. At 35 years of age, it’s tough to say what his ceiling will be in the stacked bantamweight division, but I will be looking forward to his next bout in the promotion.

DIANA BELBITA (14-6, 116) VS GLORIA DE PAULA (5-4, 115.5) – STRAWWEIGHT

Belbita was the more aggressive fighter on the feet, repeatedly throwing right hands that were sneaking over the guard of De Paula. De Paula responded with one-two’s in return and looked to change levels in search of a takedown. Belbita defended the attempts, and she was doing a good job of working the body throughout this opening round. This was a fairly even round on the feet, but I narrowly scored it for Belbita, based largely on her body shots. 10-9 Belbita.

The fighters found themselves in somewhat of a stalemate in the clinch, early in the second round. Belbita landed some strong shots as they separated, but De Paula really went on the attack moments later, as her straight right hands were repeatedly catching Belbita, although Belbita was throwing good strikes in return as well. Belbita continued to defend De Paula’s attempts to take the fight to the ground and seemed to be out landing her opponent in the clinch. 20-18 Belbita.

Belbita defended another takedown to begin the final round. An inadvertent eye poke to De Paula brought a momentary pause to the bout, but she did not take much time to recover before the fight resumed. De Paula continued to pursue takedowns, but even after she finally got Belbita to the ground, Belbita popped right back to her feet, and the battle in the clinch resumed against the cage. They exchanged knees to the body in this position for the next few minutes, and the fight went the distance. 29-28 Belbita.

WINNER: Gloria De Paula by unanimous decision (29-28 all)

I scored the fight for Belbita; however, I can’t fault the judges for scoring this one in favor of De Paula instead. It was a very competitive fight, and I imagine it ultimately came down to the first round, in which Belbita largely focused her attack on the body, while De Paula went after the head, which often looks better to judges. Regardless, this was a big win for De Paula against an opponent with twice her experience. She is now 1-2 in the UFC.

CHAS SKELLY (18-3, 1 NC, 146) VS MARK STRIEGL (18-3, 1 NC, 145) – FEATHERWEIGHT

Skelly and Striegl battled in the clinch early, with both fighters looking for a takedown against the cage. With just over two minutes remaining in the round, Skelly was successful in taking Striegl down, where he began to work from his opponent’s guard. Striegl did a good job of keeping Skelly from advancing, but Skelly landed enough strong ground and pound shots in the final seconds of the round to secure this one on the scorecards.

Skelly wasted little time in pursuing another takedown, dragging Striegl down near the cage. Striegl made it back to his feet quickly and created some separation. It was Skelly who capitalized on the moment, however, throwing a knee up the middle dropped Striegl hard. Skelly followed Striegl to the ground, and he threw down brutal hammerfists until this fight was finished.

WINNER: Chas Skelly by TKO at 2:01 of Round 2

Skelly caught Striegl with an elbow before the finish that appeared to rock Striegl slightly, and that opened him up to the knee that dropped him. It was a strong performance from Skelly, especially considering that Skelly had not fought since 2019 going into this bout. In his post-fight interview, Skelly stated that this was likely his last bout, but did not fully commit to retirement either. If this was indeed his final bout, he will retire with a professional record of 19-3  (1 NC), with an 8-3 (1 NC) record in the UFC Featherweight division.

JESSICA-ROSE CLARK (11-6, 135.5) VS STEPHANIE EGGER (6-2, 135) – BANTAMWEIGHT

Clark’s strategy was clear, as she instantly began to chase a takedown. They wrestled against the cage for the vast majority of the round, with very little activity. Eventually, Egger took Clark down with a judo throw and worked from a scarf-hold position. She transitioned into an armbar, and Egger was able to extend the arm fully, forcing Clark to submit.

WINNER: Stephanie Egger by armbar at 3:44 of Round 1

Clark came into this fight with the intent of wrestling with Egger, however, that was a very questionable decision against an opponent who specializes in Judo. The second that Egger got the fight to the ground, Clark was in deep trouble, and it did not take long for Egger to lock in the armbar that finished the fight. Egger is now 2-1 in the UFC, with finishes in both of her victories.

GABRIEL BENITEZ (22-9, 148) VS DAVID ONAMA (8-1, 144.5) – FEATHERWEIGHT

Benitez missed weight by 2lbs, and he was fined 30% of his purse.

The fighters traded strong hooks to begin the fight. Both men were firing bombs in this opening round, and one could tell that one way or the other, this would not be a lengthy fight. A left hand from Onama backed Benitez up, but Benitez did not appear to be seriously hurt, and he began to work the body of Onama. A left hand from Benitez hurt Onama badly and appeared to be giving Onama significant trouble with his right eye. Benitez went on the attack as he flurried forward in an attempt to finish Onama, but despite the damage to his eye, Onama was able to fire back and relieve the pressure. In the final minute of the round, Onama started to pressure forward, practically chasing Benitez down with fourteen consecutive wild hooks. More than enough of those hooks found their target, and Onama knocked Benitez out against the cage.

WINNER: David Onama by KO 4:24 of Round 1

This was a wild fight. Both men showcased impressive chins throughout the short duration of this bout, but when you trade heavy shots as wildly as these two were, eventually, one man is going to go down. Onama stated after the bout that he could hardly see out of his right eye, so the finish came right on time for him. Onama is now 1-1 in the UFC, and both of those bouts have been very entertaining. Onama took his first UFC bout on short notice and a weight class up, so this was our first look at Onama at 145lbs since joining the UFC, and I would say he certainly impressed.

JOAQUIN BUCKLEY (13-4, 183) VS ABDUL RAZAK ALHASSAN (11-4, 186) – MIDDLEWEIGHT

Buckley was the more active fighter in the opening minute. Alhassan loaded up with a big head kick but slipped in the process. Buckley allowed him to his feet but timed a double leg perfectly to bring Alhassan back down. Alhassan escaped to his feet but ate an elbow from Buckley as they separated. Alhassan landed a right hand that prompted Buckley to take Alhassan back down. Alhassan powered back to his feet and tagged Buckley repeatedly with some heavy hooks in the final minute of the round. Buckley took the shots well and fired back to end what was a tense round between these two heavy hitters. 10-9 Buckley.

Alhassan was really loading up on his strikes, which gave Buckley time to create the distance he needed to avoid the blows. Buckley continued to outwrestle Alhassan, but could not keep him down for any meaningful period of time. About two minutes into the round, Buckley began to unload on Alhassan with strikes against the cage, and Alhassan was just covering up, doing very little in response to Buckley’s attack. Alhassan found a bit more success on the feet as the round progressed, but his output was far too low, and he was falling far behind on the striker count. Buckley ended round two with another takedown. 20-18 Buckley.

Alhassan tripped Buckley to the ground a minute into the final round, but he was winding up so much with his ground and pound strikes, that Buckley was able to create an opportunity to return to his feet. Alhassan brought him back to the ground, however, and he was able to land a few more shots before taking the back of Buckley. Buckley escaped danger momentarily, but Alhassan maintained top position for the remainder of the round, and he threw down some strong ground and pound as time expired. 29-28 Buckley.

WINNER: Joaquin Buckley by split decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-29)

Going into this card, I figured if there was one fight that was guaranteed to end by way of knockout, it would have been this one, however, it wasn’t to be, and the fight went the distance. One judge scored the fight for Alhassan, likely giving him the first round as well as the third. While I saw it the other way, there is certainly a case for giving Alhassan the first round based on his flurries towards the end of the round. Either way, despite the loss, winning a round outside of the first is an encouraging sign for Alhassan, who has never won a fight that he hasn’t finished in the first to this point. This also marked Buckley’s first UFC fight to go the distance, and he is now 4-2 in the promotion.

JIM MILLER (33-16, 1 NC, 156) VS NIKOLAS MOTTA (12-3, 154.5) – LIGHTWEIGHT

The fighters exchanged quick hooks in the pocket throughout the opening minute. Miller tagged Motta with a head kick but was caught by a strong right hand as he moved in to follow up on it. Miller was attacking the lead leg of Motta, which quickly began to affect his opponent’s movement. Miller threw a superman punch before shooting for a takedown, which was defended by Motta. I thought that the leg kicks from Miller were the story of the fight to this point, and I scored the first round in his favor.

Early in the second round, Miller pressured forward and landed a right hook that dropped Motta hard. Miller followed him to the ground, throwing down numerous ground and pound shots until the fight was stopped.

WINNER: Jim Miller by TKO at 1:58 of Round 2

Every time Jim Miller competes, he adds to his numerous promotional records, and he added a new one tonight, as with this win, Miller tied Donald Cerrone for the UFC record for most wins in the promotion. Motto was making his UFC debut here, and despite his age, Jim Miller is a very tough fight for any fighter moving up to that level. Miller’s leg kicks added up quickly, and once the damage was done, he was able to get creative with his offense, and caught Motta with the right hook that ended the fight. In his post-fight interview, Miller was frustrated at the stoppage, which he perceived as late, and hinted at his desire to compete at UFC 300 (Miller won fights at both UFC 100 and UFC 200).

PARKER PORTER (11-6, 263) VS ALAN BAUDOT (8-2, 1 NC, 256) – HEAVYWEIGHT

They traded wild strikes in the opening minute of this fight, especially for heavyweights. Somehow, neither man went down, and Porter began to pursue a takedown against the cage. Baudot defended the attempt successfully, but Porter continued to wrestle him against the cage, and Baudot spent the majority of the round in this position. With literally a second to go in the round, Porter successfully tripped Baudot down to the ground, which normally wouldn’t mean much, but was a good sign for Porter heading into round two. 10-9 Porter.

Porter worked his jab early in round two, and the fighters exchanged leg kicks as well. Porter dragged Baudot down on top of him before scrambling into top position, but he was unable to maintain the position, and Baudot returned to his feet. They traded strikes at a fairly even rate for the remainder of what was a very difficult round to score in my mind. 20-18 Porter.

Baudot cracked Porter with a looping left hook early in round three, which was perhaps the strongest strike of the fight to this point. Baudot was landing sharp combinations, seemingly growing in confidence as Porter failed to respond with anything of substance. Porter turned things around in the second half of the round, however, taking Baudot down, where he began to work from half guard. Porter transitioned into top mount with thirty seconds remaining in the round, and he threw down ground and pound until time expired. 30-27 Porter.

WINNER: Parker Porter by unanimous decision (29-28 all)

This fight had its moments, but whenever an unranked heavyweight fight goes the distance, especially this late on a card, you certainly feel every moment of it as a viewer. Baudot was sharper on the feet, but it was the wrestling of Porter that ultimately decided this contest. The third round, in particular, was looking rough for him, but he was able to get Baudot down and steal back the round with his top control and strong ground and pound. Porter is now 3-1 in the UFC, with three consecutive decision victories after dropping his UFC debut.

KYLE DAUKAUS (10-2, 1 NC, 193.5) VS JAMIE PICKETT (13-6, 194) – CATCHWEIGHT

Daukaus was able to take Pickett down about a minute into the bout, and he began to work from half guard. Pickett worked his way back up but failed to create separation, and Daukaus brought him back to the ground. Once again, Pickett was able to return to his feet, but ate several hooks from Daukaus, and was promptly taken right back down. Daukaus locked in a D’Arce choke, and Pickett tapped out just as the horn sounded in the round.

WINNER: Kyle Daukaus by D’Arce Choke at 4:59 of Round 1

This was a very dominant performance from Kyle Daukaus, who won every second of this round and secured the finish with a second remaining in the opening round. While my memory may be betraying me, I don’t recall Pickett being the easiest fighter to take down, but Daukaus did it with ease here, and he picked up the ninth submission win of his career in the process. After the fight, he called out Tony Ferguson, but this seemed to be more in reference to Ferguson’s “D’Arce Knight” nickname than it was Daukaus actually proposing a fight against the lightweight contender.

JOHNNY WALKER (18-6, 206) VS JAMAHAL HILL (9-1, 1 NC, 205) – LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT

Walker opened up with a kick to the body, as well as a kick to the lead leg of Hill. The fighters exchanged right hands, before Walker shot for a takedown, to no success. Walker was looking to set up a head kick, but Hill was wise to it, blocking Walker’s attempts. Hill connected with a right hand that caught Walker right on the temple, and Walker fell backward, completely limp. Hill followed Walker to the ground and landed one more shot that knocked Walker unconscious.

WINNER: Jamahal Hill by KO at 2:55 of Round 1

When this bout was moved into the main event slot of this event, there was not a fighter on this card with more to gain than Jamahal Hill. Hill has been very impressive since joining the UFC, compiling a promotional record of 3-1 (1 NC) prior to his bout, but this marked the first time he has headlined an event in the UFC, and he absolutely made the most of the opportunity. This was an absolutely brutal knockout, which is exactly what Hill needed here to get the promotion (as well as the audience) behind him as a credible main event level fighter. Hill will likely be ranked in the top ten of the division following this win, and there is really no shortage of entertaining opponents to match him up against next. The first name that came to mind for me was Volkan Oezdemir, but if the UFC wanted to go for a higher-ranked opponent, perhaps the winner of the Thiago Santos/Magomed Ankalaev bout would make for a sensible next fight for Hill.

About Eric Marcotte 188 Articles
A graduate of Laurentian University, Eric reports on Mixed Martial Arts at POST Wrestling.