UFC best bets: Jamahal Hill-Thiago Santos

August 4, 2022 10:28 PM
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We touch down in Las Vegas’ APEX center with its smaller octagon for Saturday’s UFC LV59 production before visiting San Diego on Aug. 13, then Salt Lake City on Aug 20. UFC’s first week off since Memorial Day comes Aug. 27, followed by the much-anticipated UFC 279 from Paris, featuring heavyweights Ciryl Gane and Tai Tuivasa on Sept. 3.

The UFC is rare in sports wagering in that it presents events the whole calendar year, while almost every other sport follows a timeframe or season. 

The growth of the UFC and its accessibility to gaming sets this sport up to enjoy dynamic growth over the coming years.

Last week my run of dogs was stopped by a card that realized 11-1 favorites results. Julianna Pena’s loss to Amanda Nunes takes 2022 profitability to 18-11 + 6.12 units.

This week, we’re right back on an underdog.

Jamahal Hill (-295) vs. Thiago Santos (+ 255)

Light heavyweight (205 pounds) | Main event

Santos is ranked sixth in a division of killers, and he has competed against several of them recently. Unfortunately for Santos, 38, he’s not getting younger or faster, evidenced by his 1-4 record in his last five bouts.

Santos arrives with black belts in BJJ and Muay Thai, and he’s decorated in Capoeira, so he’s more than comfortable on his feet. Santos lands 3.77 significant strikes per minute and receives 2.37, a positive strike differential of 1.4 per minute, but it’s not indicative of an overly busy fighter, rather one looking to “put lights out” with one hammer.

It’s always been about power and aggression for Santos, but lately he has lacked the will or firepower needed to back opponents, up let alone threaten them.

The 10th-ranked Hill has little problem with aggression and forcing opponents to back up. He is also striking based, but at 31 he’s more athletic, quicker, cleaner, more precise and two inches taller with substantial leg and arm reach advantages. 

Hill lands 7.06 significant strikes per minute and takes 3.71, a differential of + 3.55, which is impressive for a man of his size, power and bad intention.  Hill, who’s earned a blue belt in BJJ, employs a deliberate, straightforward, “walk your ass down” style of fighting he developed growing up in Chicago, but don’t overlook his grappling.

Hill’s athleticism, movement and ability to control distance will be the dominant factors in this fight.

Each of those assets will provide him substantial advantage over a more deliberate, durable, determined athlete but one who may continue to struggle with the speed and fury possessed by the elite of the division. I grade Hill as one of the elites in this division.

Total in this fight: 2.5 rounds Under -160

Stephanie Egger (-130) vs. Mayra Bueno Silva (+ 110)

Women’s bantamweight (125 pounds)

Egger, from Switzerland, was the larger athlete in the cage in her first three UFC bouts, but she won’t have that advantage in this fight. 

She is 2-1 in the UFC, having beaten sophomore-level bantamweight competition on her way to this fight. She’s a grappling-based fighter who sets up her submission attempts with effective striking, but she’s stepping up in class here.

Bueno Silva is 2-1 in her last three UFC fights, her loss coming via decision to legitimate top-five contender Manon Fiorot. Bueno Silva showed tremendous heart and toughness in that loss, which is why I regard her as a legitimate favorite in this bout.

However, the market disagrees as it seems to be rewarding Egger for her recent wins and overlooking who beat Bueno Silva.

Bueno Silva opened -150 for this fight, which I believe is a fair depiction of her talent. She is now + 110.

My approach will be to take Bueno Silva + 110 or better. I’ll scour props to determine her positive price via decision also.

Be patient and allow this line to continue to move toward Egger, then jump in at the best price.  

Total in this fight: 2.5 rounds Over -230

“GambLou’s ’Bout Business Podcast” will present official releases for this week’s LV59 card via podcast Friday afternoon.

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