UFC Fight Night Report: Jamahal Hill stops Thiago Santos, TUF 30 winners determined
On Saturday night, the UFC held a Fight Night event at the Apex facility in Las Vegas, Nevada. The card was headlined by a light heavyweight bout between two heavy hitters in Thiago Santos and Jamahal Hill. Hill has looked like a very dangerous fighter since making his UFC debut in 2020, compiling a record of 4-1 (1 NC) in the promotion. Hill has knocked out his last two opponents in the first round, but a strong win against Santos would mark his biggest win to date. Santos had lost four of his last five fights going into this bout, and was in desperate need of a big win here to retain his standing in the division. In the co-main event, Geoff Neal fought Vicente Luque, in what was sure to be an exciting bout between two of the most entertaining fighters at welterweight. Also featured on this card were the finals matchups for the 30th season of the Ultimate Fighter, with Zac Pauga facing Mohammed Usman at heavyweight, and Juliana Miller facing Brogan Walker-Sanchez at flyweight.
Brendan Fitzgerald provided commentary for this card alongside Michael Bisping. Performance of the Night bonuses were awarded to Bryan Battle, Mohammad Usman, and Geoff Neal. Fight of the Night bonuses went out to Thiago Santos and Jamahal Hill.
*Mayra Bueno Silva def. Stephanie Egger by armbar at 1:17 of Round 1
*Cory McKenna def. Miranda Granger by Von Flue choke at 1:03 of Round 2
*Bryan Battle def. Takashi Sato by KO at 0:44 of Round 1
*Michal Oleksiejczuk def. Sam Alvey by TKO at 1:56 of Round 1
*Terrance McKinney def. Erick Gonzalez by rear naked choke at 2:17 of Round 1
*Serghei Spivac def. Augusto Sakai by TKO at 3:42 of Round 2
*Juliana Miller def. Brogan Walker by TKO at 3:57 of Round 3 in the Ultimate Fighter 30 flyweight tournament finale
*Mohammed Usman def. Zac Pauga by KO at 0:36 of Round 2 in the Ultimate Fighter 30 heavyweight tournament finale
*Geoff Neal def. Vicente Luque by KO at 2:01 of Round 3
*Jamahal Hill def. Thiago Santos by TKO at 2:31 of Round 4
MAYRA BUENO SILVA (8-2-1, 135.5) VS STEPHANIE EGGER (7-2, 134.5) – BANTAMWEIGHT
Egger quickly secured top position on the ground following a failed back take from Bueno Silva. Bueno Silva locked in an armbar, but quickly let go after telling Tognoni that Egger tapped out. As a result, referee Chris Tognoni took her at her word and stopped the fight, however it was unclear as to whether Egger actually submitted or not. One of the judges stated that they clearly saw the tap, and Bueno Silva was awarded the submission victory.
WINNER: Mayra Bueno Silva by armbar at 1:17 of Round 1
Judge Ron McCarthy and referee Herb Dean were both sitting cage side, and both men stated that they saw Egger submit, which effectively removed any potential controversy regarding this stoppage. Egger was non-committal as to whether she tapped out or not, which will certainly not endear her to many fans, however, Bueno Silva handled the situation well, despite clearly being quite emotional following the stoppage. Bueno Silva is now 4-2-1 in the UFC, with three of those wins coming by way of first-round armbar.
CORY MCKENNA (6-2, 115.5) VS MIRANDA GRANGER (7-2, 115.5) – STRAWWEIGHT
McKenna attempted an early takedown but ate a number of knees to the body in the process. Despite this, McKenna was able to back Granger into the cage, where she successfully brought Granger down to the ground. McKenna was active from half guard, throwing down numerous short ground and pound strikes. Granger was unable to return to her feet, and McKenna spent the remainder of the round in top position.
It did not take much time for McKenna to take Granger back to the ground in the second round. She quickly locked in a Von Flue choke, and McKenna was forced to submit.
WINNER: Cory McKenna by Von Flue choke at 1:03 of Round 2
Granger had no answers for McKenna’s wrestling, and this became a very one-sided fight after McKenna took things to the ground. It was a great performance from McKenna, who became just the fifth fighter (and first woman) to finish a fight by Von Flue choke in the UFC. McKenna is now 2-1 in the UFC, and this marked her first submission win in the promotion.
BRYAN BATTLE (7-1, 171) VS TAKASHI SATO (15-5, 170.5) – WELTERWEIGHT
In the opening minute of the fight, Battle blasted Sato with a brutal head kick, and Sato fell to the ground, unconscious.
WINNER: Bryan Battle by KO at 0:44 of Round 1
This was a brutal knockout victory, and as Battle himself stated in his post-fight interview, likely the greatest strike he has ever thrown. The timing was perfect, and there was really no need for any follow-up shots, as Sato was out from the second that the kick landed. After his win, Battle called out both Ian Garry and Bryan Barberena. Battle is now 3-0 in the UFC, and this was the second knockout victory of his career to this point.
SAM ALVEY (33-17-1, 1 NC, 186) VS MICHAL OLEKSIEJCZUK (16-5-1, 185.5) – MIDDLEWEIGHT
Oleksiejczuk started the fight off aggressively, quickly backing Alvey into the cage. A big left hand from Oleksiejczuk knocked Alvey down, and Oleksiejczuk followed him to the ground as he attempted to finish the fight. Alvey managed to get back to his feet, but he had taken a ton of damage on the ground, and he was a bloody mess by the time he made it back up. Oleksiejczuk recognized that Alvey was still hurt, and landed one last heavy left hand that knocked Alvey back to the ground, ending the fight.
WINNER: Michal Oleksiejczuk by TKO at 1:56 of Round 1
Oleksiejczuk fought very aggressively here, and Alvey was quickly overwhelmed. Despite this being a relatively short fight, Alvey took a ton of damage throughout its short duration, and referee Herb Dean made the right choice to end the fight following Oleksiejczuk’s second knockdown. It was a very successful middleweight debut for Oleksiejczuk, who was largely successful at light heavyweight as well in the promotion. Sam Alvey has compiled a record of 0-8-1 throughout his last nine fights, and while I believe I’ve said this many times over the years, this will likely mark his final fight in the promotion. Alvey has expressed interest in pursuing a future in professional wrestling.
TERRANCE MCKINNEY (12-4, 155.5) VS ERICK GONZALEZ (14-6, 155) – LIGHTWEIGHT
McKinney found a lot of success on the feet early, tagging Gonzalez repeatedly on the feet. Gonzalez attempted to change levels, but McKinney defended the attempt and caught Gonzalez with some hard knees to the body on the break. Gonzalez tagged McKinney with a looping hook, and McKinney opted to change levels, taking Gonzalez down himself just moments later. Gonzalez attempted to return to his feet, however, McKinney took his back in the process, and quickly locked in a rear-naked choke, forcing Gonzalez to submit.
WINNER: Terrance McKinney by rear naked choke at 2:17 of Round 1
McKinney was a massive favorite according to the oddsmakers going into this fight, and he made good on those odds with this performance. McKinney fought aggressively from the start of the fight, just as you would expect from him, and he was really giving Gonzalez problems on the feet. It took him very little time to finish the fight after getting Gonzalez to the ground, and he secured the twelfth first-round finish of his career as a result. McKinney called out Paddy Pimblett in his post-fight interview.
AUGUSTO SAKAI (15-4-1, 260) VS SERGHEI SPIVAC (14-3, 249.5) – HEAVYWEIGHT
Spivac quickly took Sakai down, and he attempted to lock in a guillotine as Sakai returned to his feet. Sakai escaped the submission but was immediately dragged back to the ground. Spivac partially took the back of Sakai, and began to throw massive right hands at him as Spivac picked himself up along the cage. Spivac controlled most of the fight on the ground, but Sakai escaped to his feet in the final minute, and the fighter’s traded hands before time expired. 10-9 Spivac.
Sakai successfully defended Spivac’s first takedown attempt of the round, but Spivac worked his jab throughout the opening minute before finally taking Sakai back down. Spivac landed a series of left hands after recording his sixth takedown, and referee Mark Smith started warning Sakai to defend himself. Sakai was unable to improve his position, and the fight was eventually stopped.
WINNER: Serghei Spivac by TKO at 3:42 of Round 2
Spivac absolutely dominated Sakai here, as Sakai had no answers for Spivac’s wrestling. Sakai seemed upset with the stoppage, but he was taking a lot of damaging strikes without improving his position, so I really had no issues with it. Spivac has quietly compiled an impressive UFC record of 6-3, and he has won five of his last six fights, with that one loss coming to Tom Aspinall. Spivac has shown a lot of promise, and this was perhaps his most impressive performance to date.
BROGAN WALKER (7-2, 125.5) VS JULIANA MILLER (2-1, 125) – FLYWEIGHT
Walker and Miller traded strikes to begin the fight before Miller took Walker to the ground. Miller worked from half guard, where she landed a number of short ground and pound strikes. Walker was looking for a triangle off of her back, and eventually switched to an armbar late in the round, but the submission attempts were unsuccessful, and this was a clear round for Miller.
Miller landed a series of shots on the feet to start round two, prompting Walker to close the distance and engage Miller in the clinch against the cage. Once again, Miller was able to take Walker to the ground, and she was able to take the back of her opponent after a failed heel hook attempt from Walker. Miller started hunting for a rear naked choke, but her positioning was just a bit off, and Walker escaped. Miller recorded one more takedown with a minute remaining in the round, and she landed strong ground and pound strikes before time expired.
Miller caught Walker with a sharp jab early in the third round, before connecting with a solid one-two. Walker chose to press Miller against the cage yet again, and once more, it resulted in Miller taking Walker to the ground. Miller was dropping countless elbows down from top mount, and eventually, the fight was stopped.
WINNER: Juliana Miller by TKO at 3:57 of Round 3
Walker did not have much to offer Miller here, constantly engaging her in clinch scenarios that repeatedly resulted in her being taken down, where Miller would dominate from top position for the remainder of the round. Miller had only three professional wins going into this fight, but fought like the more experienced fighter, and picked up the stoppage victory as a result. After the fight, Miller was given her trophy for winning the 30th season of the Ultimate Fighter, and she has earned a lengthy UFC contract for winning the competition.
MOHAMMED USMAN (7-2, 236.5) VS ZAC PAUGA (5-0, 239) – HEAVYWEIGHT
Usman and Pauga were swinging heavy hands early in the fight, with Pauga seemingly having the advantage in terms of speed. Pauga’s activity seemed to be causing issues for Usman, but the pace of the fight slowed, and a big right hand from Usman seemed to get Pauga’s attention. Usman was throwing some huge overhands; however, they were repeatedly coming up a bit short, and Pauga was countering strongly. This was a solid opening round for Pauga.
Just seconds into round two, Usman caught Pauga with a short-left hook, knocking him unconscious.
WINNER: Mohammed Usman by KO at 0:36 of Round 2
As you may have already known, Mohammed is the brother of Kamaru Usman, and they have notably become the first pair of siblings to win the Ultimate Fighter following this big knockout. Usman looked rough in the first round, struggling with Pauga’s activity while throwing out some wild looping strikes, however, he rebounded strongly in round two with the fight ending left hook, and he has been crowned the winner of the 30th season of the Ultimate Fighter as a result. He was given his trophy and UFC contract after the bout, and both Mohammad and his brother Kamaru were interviewed in the cage.
VICENTE LUQUE (21-8-1, 170.5) VS GEOFF NEAL (14-4, 171) – WELTERWEIGHT
It did not take these fighters long to start trading heavy shots. A left hand from Neal rocked Luque, and Neal backed Luque into the cage, throwing bombs at him as Neal attempted to finish the fight. Luque recovered and started to fire back, and he quickly started pressuring forward again, looking to back Neal into the cage. Another left hand from Neal caused Luque to stumble, and he was having trouble dealing with the straight left hands from Neal. The next straight left hand from Neal dropped Luque, however, he recovered quickly and ended the round on his feet. A 10-8 round for Neal on my scorecard.
Luque was very active with body kicks early in the second round. Neal’s left hand was still finding his target more often than not, but the shots were not as damaging as the big left hands from round one. Eventually, Neal decided to take Luque to the ground, but he was unable to keep him there for long, and the fighters traded heavy elbows on the break. They traded shots in the pocket against the cage, with Luque doing good work to the body while Neal landed the bigger strikes to the head. This was a very competitive round.
Luque continued to fight with a kick-heavy attack in the third round, beating up the lead leg of Neal. Neal landed a strong one-two that rocked Luque, before catching him with a barrage of uppercuts. Luque somehow managed to stay on his feet after eating about eight consecutive uppercuts, but one last left hand floored him, and the fight was stopped.
WINNER: Geoff Neal by KO at 2:01 of Round 3
Unsurprisingly, this was a fun fight. Neal looked very sharp on the feet, and his power was ultimately the difference maker, despite Luque’s ridiculous chin. I thought this may have been Neal’s best overall performance in the UFC, especially when you take into account the level of competition. Luque largely fought a good fight to his credit, but Neal was just a step ahead of him, and Luque suffered his first career loss by knockout here. In his post-fight interview, Neal called out Gilbert Burns, while taking a shot at Belal Muhammad as well, who he beat by decision in 2019.
THIAGO SANTOS (22-10, 206) VS JAMAHAL HILL (10-1, 1 NC, 205) – LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT
The fighters touched gloves to begin the main event. Santos attacked the lead leg of Hill early in the fight, before shooting for a single leg to no success. Hill blocked a head kick from Santos, and Hill pressured forward, looking to trap Santos against the cage. Santos shot for another takedown, but was unable to get Hill down. Hill landed an accidental knee to the groin, and Santos was given time to recover before they resumed the fight. Santos connected with a heavy right hook before time expired in the round.
Hill was a bit more active early in the second round, throwing out a high output of leg kicks. Santos caught Hill with a heavy body kick, before taking his opponent down near the cage. Hill was not content to accept the position, and he immediately popped back to his feet, where the fighters started wrestling against the cage. The fighters started brawling wildly on the break, with Hill seemingly getting the better of the exchange. Hill caught Santos with a right hook on his way in, before Santos threw a right hand of his own that knocked Hill’s head back. Hill was really turning up the pressure, and Santos was looking a bit tired, however, he was still swinging back with heavy hands to keep himself in the fight. A right hook from Hill seemed to wobble Santos near the end of the round, however, he recovered quickly.
Santos took Hill back to the ground in the opening minute of round three, but once again, Hill was able to escape to his feet in seconds. Santos continued to chase after takedown attempts, however, Hill largely proved up to the task of defending them, and was able to stop Santos from doing much whenever Santos did succeed in taking him down. As the round progressed, Santos was finding more success with his takedowns, but Hill prevented Santos from doing significant damage. This was a tough round to score, but I gave the slight edge to Hill.
The fighters traded kicks to start round three, but it did not take long for them to start brawling. Both men connected with heavy shots that would have ended the night of other light heavyweights, but somehow the fighters remained on their for the time being. Eventually, however, the onslaught from Hill became too much for Santos, and he basically crumbled to the ground from the combination of damage and exhaustion. Hill followed him to the ground, and he threw down vicious ground and pound strikes until the fight was stopped.
WINNER: Jamahal Hill by TKO at 2:31 of Round 4
Both fighters were exhausted by the fourth round, but Hill had just a little bit more left in his gas tank, and he really took the fight to Santos in order to force the finish. It was a very competitive bout, where I would say that both men actually gained something coming out of this. Obviously, for Hill, a win over a former title challenger is huge, but this was (in my opinion) a good night for Thiago Santos as well. Santos is a fighter who built his name on being an entertaining fighter, but his fights since returning from the many injuries he sustained in the Jon Jones fight, have been largely dull, and he hasn’t been picking up many wins since the injuries either, with a total record of 1-3 since returning. However, we saw flashes of the old Thiago Santos here, and I thought this was his best showing in quite some time. Regardless, this was Hill’s night, and in his post-fight interview, he called for a title shot or a fight against Jan Błachowicz.