Light Heavyweight Battle on UFC Fight Night
Former light heavyweight championship challenger Thiago Santos will try to end his slippage and slow the momentum of a rising competitor when he takes on Johnny Walker in the main event of UFC Fight Night 193 in Las Vegas on Saturday.
The two Brazilians have each faced adversity in recent fights, despite having very different career paths.
Santos and Walker both look to regain their momentum
Santos (21-9) has lost his last three fights, although that statistic is a bit misleading. His losing streak began in 2019 when he gave up a split decision to Jon Jones in a light heavyweight title fight. Glover Teixeira subdued Santos last November and Aleksandar Rakic claimed a unanimous decision victory over Santos in March.
So while Santos has effectively lost three games in a row, these come up against one of the greatest UFC fighters of all time, as well as the No. 1 and No. 3 contenders in the Division. light heavyweights. Still, No.5-ranked Santos knows he needs wins to regain his momentum.
“I’m so excited because I have to come back with a win and I have to improve myself, not for just anyone but just for myself,” Santos said, via UFC.com. “I have to show that I deserve to be in the top five. It can be a knockout or a submission, it doesn’t matter, I just want to finish this fight ASAP.
Walker, 29, (18-5) won his last fight against Ryan Spann, although it returned in September 2020. Walker was heading for light heavyweight stardom until UFC 244, when Corey Anderson KO’d him. It marked Walker’s first loss in the UFC, with his second four months later against Nikita Krylov.
Knockout artists likely to produce a finish
Those losses took some of the shine from Walker’s quick start to the UFC, as he had already won his first three fights in less than two minutes each. But the victory over Spann has left Walker with the No. 10 contender ranking, and he believes a new approach will bring him success going forward.
“I learned to be more professional and use all of my skills,” Walker told Yahoo Sports. “I am devoted to my condition. I finally give myself 100 percent and that makes a huge difference in everything I do.
|Santos vs Walker odds (via FanDuel Sportsbook)|
|Thiago Santos: -158||Johnny Walker: +134|
|Method of victory|
|Santos by KO / TKO: +105||Walker by KO / TKO: +195|
|Santos per submission: +2200||Walker per Submission: +2000|
|Santos by decision: +600||Walker per decision: +900|
|Prize Draw: +5000|
Despite the three-game losing streak, Santos is the favorite -158 against Walker (+134), according to FanDuel Sportsbook. Bettors don’t expect this one to go the distance, with Santos (+105) and Walker (+195) likely to end the fight by either KO or TKO. Both men specialize in taking out opponents: 15 of Walker’s 18 wins have been knockout, as have 15 of Santos’ 21 career wins.
Santos says he expects one of these trends to continue – preferably his own.
“He’s a tough guy, but in this division there are a lot of tough guys, and he won’t be any different,” Santos said. “He can surprise and do different punches, kicks and spinning attacks, but I’m up for it. I feel like I’m going to knock him out.