MMA fighting styles

Jamahal Hill predicts Thiago Santos will take a break from UFC Fight Night

welcome to The weekly withdrawal, Sports Illustrated’s in-depth look at MMA. Each week, this column offers insight and information on the most notable stories from the world of combat.

Long before last month’s UFC 276 card, Jamahal Hill warned Sean Strickland of a potential turning point in his upcoming middleweight fight against Alex Pereira.

Beware of Pereira’s setup, shared Hill, who noted that it would end in a heavy hook. And that’s exactly how the fight ended, with a shell-shocked Strickland falling prey to Pereira’s vicious knockout blow.

“I saw it coming,” Hill says. “Strickland had asked me to train with him, so that was something I had to mention. I saw that as soon as I watched some of Pereira’s fights, and I knew it was coming.

Hill can bolster his case for a possible title with a victory in Saturday’s main event.

Hill (10-1, 1 NC) also has a premonition of how his UFC Fight Night main event will end this Saturday night against Thiago Santos – believing it will also end in sudden and painful fashion.

“I’m going to finish Santos,” Hill said. “I can’t control how much he can take, but I can control how much I can put on him. So no matter how long it takes, but I’m going to pressure him until he breaks.

A win over sixth-ranked Santos (22-10) would be a huge achievement for Hill, who is currently ranked 10th in the light heavyweight division. Santos (22-10) remains dangerous, but has struggled since a competitive loss to Jon Jones in July 2019. Most recently, he just lost to Magomed Ankalaev – and has lost four of his last five, with the only victory against Johnny Walker, whom Hill eliminated in February.

On paper, these are two fighters heading in completely opposite directions. Santos is no longer the force he once was in the cage, while Hill is ready to make a legitimate run for the title.

“This fight is exactly what I expected,” Hill said. “He’s someone I watched, and now it’s my turn.

“After this fight and one against another top five guy, I’ll have my shot at the title.”

At this time, Hill is not part of any consideration for a title fight. He is waiting behind Glover Teixeira, Jan Blachowicz, Ankalaev and Aleksander Rakić – and potentially even Santos, Dominick Reyes, Volkan Oezdemir and Paul Craig (who is the only fighter to defeat Hill). But he could climb all the way to sixth in the division with a convincing win over Santos, and he has a versatile skill set of grappling, jiu-jitsu and power that allows him to go up against anyone in the game. the top 10.

“Everyone has strengths, but my strengths are different,” Hill says. “A lot of people still don’t respect me like they should, that’s why they fall on me.

“But I’m not focusing on anyone other than Santos. I focus on the things I can control. I signed that contract, and now it’s time for me to go out there and win that fight.

Pat Downey set for MMA debut at Bellator 284

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Pat Downey makes his long-awaited MMA debut next week at Bellator 284. Fighting in a middleweight bout against Jeff Souder, the highly decorated wrestler plans to make a smooth transition to a different sport.

“I’ve never done anything more logical in my life than to join Bellator,” Downey says. “This is for me. I have to prove that I can do this for me and my family. For my late grandfather. This is really what I want, and this is the next step in writing my legacy.

Downey, 29, had plenty of success on the mat before his frustrations boiled over with USA Wrestling in a real clash of styles. He is still determined to pursue his wrestling career, as well as his new venture in Bellator.

“If I’m not Bellator champion by 2025, I haven’t reached my goal,” Downey says. “I see myself as the champion of the middleweight division right after the Olympics. I still want to fight in the next Olympics in 2024 and then come back and win the title.

A matchup against Souder, also making his Bellator debut, should serve as a litmus test for Downey. He thinks this fight will end quickly and intends to make it a highlight.

“I’m not just going to win, I’m going to finish the guy off,” Downey said. “I don’t try to hold, hold and hold. You don’t want to miss my debut and see how I end it.

“After everything I’ve been through it’s great to finally have my fight ahead of me. And after that I’m Irish so I want to fight next month in Dublin [at Bellator 285]. If I take no damage in this fight, then why not? I’m ready for anything Bellator gives me.

The Choose Them section:

UFC Fight Night Main Event: Jamahal Hill vs. Thiago Santos

Take: Jamahal Hill

UFC Fight Night Welterweight Fight: Vicente Luque vs. Geoff Neal

Take: Vicente Luque

UFC Fight Night heavyweight bout: Augusto Sakai vs. Sergey Spivak

Take: Sergei Spivak

UFC Fight Night women’s flyweight bout: Ariane Lipski vs. Priscila Cachoeira

Take: Ariane Lipski

PFL Lightweight Playoff Semi-Final: Anthony Pettis vs. Stevie Ray

Take: Anthony Pettis

Last week: 4-1

Record 2022: 87-49

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Justin Barrasso can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @justin barrasso.