Thank the MMA gods for giving us this UFC Fight Night main event. Saturday night’s bout between Thiago Santos and Johnny Walker should be a fun one for as long as it lasts. While both fighters have had a difficult time winning lately, the winner of this main event could see himself back on the doorstep of a title shot.
The UFC betting odds have Santos (21-9-0) as the favorite here but Walker (18-5-0) made his UFC debut by cashing as a +205 underdog. If there is any zest left in these once-spicy contenders, let them show it on Saturday.
- Date: Saturday, Oct. 2, 10 p.m. ET
- Venue: UFC Apex, Las Vegas, Nevada
- Watch on: ESPN+
Thiago Santos vs Johnny Walker
Weight Class: Light Heavyweight (170)
Rounds: Five (Main Event)
Moneyline: Johnny Walker +145, Thiago Santos -175
Totals: Over 1½ (-115), Under 1½ (-115)
This is some spicy matchmaking as the UFC is almost guaranteeing a show-stopper here. Both Santos and Walker have a “kill or be killed” mentality as nine of their last 12 combined fights have ended in a finish. Wait for the prop of this fight to not go to a decision as that is the UFC best bet even if it is juiced.
But, it can get complicated as far as figuring out who wins. We have two shell-shocked fighters who can still be fiery when they have to be.
Walker Remains Enigma
Walker has only been around the UFC for over two years yet his career has felt like someone who’s been fighting for over five. This 29-year-old was once the hottest prospect in the UFC. With three straight first-round finishes, he was being set up as the next big thing.
Then he faces a tough veteran in Corey Anderson as a 2-1 online sport betting favorite and got wrecked in one round. Another loss and a near-loss against Ryan Spann and now we have a contender who was just a flash-in-the-pan until he proves otherwise.
Walker is still one of the most explosive finishers in the division. His power and creativity allow him to finish fights early. But he has yet to prove things like his ability to take a punch or if he can beat a top-five fighter. He’s had one year to grow as a fighter so he could look like a different man here. We shall see.
Santos’ Last Shot at Relevance
Santos has been in the UFC as long as Walker has been fighting professionally: eight years. He was once a top contender at 205 but has seemingly become a shell of the fighter he once was. If there is any shred of the “top-five Santos” left in him, he should cash as chalk here.
The Brazilian is one of the most feared strikers in the promotion and he has tied for the UFC record for most knockouts in the middleweight division. Santos is still one of the best kickboxers in the division. Even if his explosiveness is lost, his technical prowess gives him the edge over most fighters.
The 37-year-old needs to win this fight or face irrelevance. His best years are behind him and his days fighting in main events or against ranked opposition may be over if he loses this one.
Santos vs Walker: Who Wins?
This is a tough one to call given how much we still don’t know about Walker. He could enter this fight with improved defense and technique. However, one thing he can’t change is his frail chin. One clean shot from Santos can put him out or cripple him for the duration of the fight.
Santos may not be in his prime, but he still throws one of the meanest check hooks and that will be money against a hittable Walker. Bet online for Santos to play it smart and catch Walker sometime within the first two rounds. This fight will likely go over 1½ rounds, but Santos should win inside the distance.