The UFC erupted with a colossal event in UFC 271, setting a new gate record in Houston. This weekend, the Octagon will return to the Apex facility in Nevada for the third Fight Night of the year.
In the main event, Johnny Walker takes on Jamahal Hill in a Light Heavyweight contest after RDA and Fiziev were pushed back. In the co-main event, Kyle Daukaus takes on Jamie Pickett after Julian Marquez withdrew from their scheduled contest.
Johnny Walker vs. Jamahal Hill (LHW)
After surging into the UFC with three straight knockout wins in a combined two minutes and 48 seconds of fight time, Johnny Walker (18-6, 4-3) had his hype train derailed by defeats to Corey Anderson and Nikita Krylov. He got back on track in his last outing opposite Ryan Spann, before a subpar decision loss to Thiago Santos in his main event. Walker is a Muay Thai striker who uses his gigantic 6’6″ frame to spike power shots at his opponents with explosiveness rarely seen in the cage. This is all set up with constant flurries of feints and quick, dramatic movement. All but two of Walker’s finishes have come inside the first round, usually because his fast twitch movements are not sustainable over the duration of fifteen minutes. Walker is a jiu black belt, which you would not guess by the paltry two subs on his record, but he primarily uses that grappling experience to limit the damage absorbed and keep the fight on the feet.
A second round TKO on the Contender Series earned Jamahal Hill (9-1, 3-1 UFC) his UFC contract, from which he earned two victories. Hill had a knockout win over Klidson Abreu turned to a no contest following a positive test for marijuana. He kept his unbeaten streak, finishing Ovince St. Preux in the second round before losing by submission to Paul Craig. He came up big in his last outing, knocking out Jimmy Crute in under a minute. Hill is a striking specialist with an impressive work rate and volume, using his technical Muay Thai and length to pick apart his opponents, mixing it up with leg kicks and attacks to the body. Though he has gone to decision in almost half of his pro bouts, Hill clearly holds finishing power when he senses vulnerability and decides to sit down on his punches. His offensive grappling is pretty limited, but he has shown an impressive ability to regain his footing when taken down.
We have a delightful clash of strikers in this match, and I do not see either fighter particularly keen to drag this to the mat. Walker has been more patient in recent outings, and showed he can go five rounds, but whether he can do that at a high pace is yet to be tested. The same can be said for Jamahal Hill, who has his toughest test to date facing down Walker’s one shot KO power. I like the accuracy and work rate of Hill to win out, as he will cut through Walker’s defensive lapses for another knockout.
My Pick: Jamahal Hill via Knockout
Kyle Daukaus vs. Jamie Pickett (MW)
My Pick: Kyle Daukaus via Submission
Parker Porter vs. Alan Baudot (HW)
My Pick: Parker Porter via Decision
Jim Miller vs. Nikolas Motta (LW)
My Pick: Nikolas Motta via Knockout
Joaquin Buckley vs. Abdul Razak Alhassen (MW)
My Pick: Abdul Razak Alhassen via Knockout
The fights go down this Saturday with an early start time, as the main card gets going at 4 PM.