We are back in the apex for UFC Vegas 59, headlined by Jamal “Sweet Dreams” Hill and Thiago “Marreta” Santos, two fighters who will bring fireworks when they face off in the octagon Saturday. Santos is a long-time veteran of the sport and looks to bounce back after a loss to Magomed Ankalaev, while Hill looks to continue keeping the light heavyweight division on notice after winning his last two fights in the very first round.
The co-main event features two explosive fighters out of the welterweight division as Vicente “The Silent Assassin” Luque faces Geoff “Hands of Steel” Neal. The main card also features some The Ultimate Fighter finale fights.
Below, I’ll be breaking down the main card from a betting perspective as well as give leans on the preliminary bouts leading up to the main card. All of the odds are per BetMGM.
Hill vs. Santos Odds
Jamal Hill -275, Thiago Santos +225
In Saturday’s main event, Hill (10-1-0) faces UFC legend Santos (22-10-0). Hill opened up July 26 as the dog at +210 and currently is a moderate to heavy favorite at -275, while Santos opened up as a -275 favorite and is currently a moderate to heavy underdog at +225. At these odds and with the power Santos historically possesses, I’d expect some money to come in on the vet, but I’d tread lightly as he faces off against a fighter in Hill with lightning in his hands.
At 5-0, Hill made his way into the UFC after finding a finish and putting on a show for Dana White. At 6-foot-4 with a 79-inch reach, Hill utilizes his jab well and keeps his opponents on the back foot, averaging 7.06 strikes per minute and landing his strikes 51% of the time. Santos is 6-2 with a 76-inch reach, a two-inch disadvantage in both departments. Averaging 3.77 strikes per minute, Santos also seems to be the slower of the two strikers, landing less accurately, 46% of the time.
With little to no takedown attempts from either fighter, this fight has all the makings to be a violent affair, and that is the angle I will be attacking from a betting perspective. I expect the younger, faster, and higher volume fighter — Hill — to win this weekend, but at -275 I don’t like the moneyline price as much. After watching what Hill did to Johnny Walker in his last fight, I’ll be putting my money on Hill to win by KO/TKO or DQ against Santos. Still, it’s important to consider how the power of Santos can make fighters overly cautious at times, and I expect Hill to still apply pressure, but with more patience and less recklessness, avoiding any power shots from Santos and finding a finish late in the fight.
Bet: Hill by KO/TKO or DQ (-155)
Luque vs. Neal Odds
Vicente Luque -190, Geoff Neal +155
Luque opened as a -175 slight favorite last month and is currently a moderate -190 favorite, while Neal opened up as a slight underdog at +145 and is currently slightly higher at +155. The fighters are identical when it comes to height and reach and coincidentally have fought the same guys leading up to this weekend. So not only do these guys know each other, they quite possibly have even sat cageside for each other’s fights in the past. I think it is safe to say they have been on a collision course for some time now and Saturday we finally get to watch the fireworks take place.
Luque comes into this fight after a frustrating performance against the surging Belal Muhammad. In that fight, Luque was convinced he would find success after knocking Muhammad out the first time they fought back in 2016. This time around, Muhammad was better prepared and shut Luque down from the opening bell, never letting him find his rhythm. Luque averages 5.30 strikes landed per minute and is accurate 53% of the time. He also absorbs 5.18 strikes per minute and is no stranger to fighting in a phone booth. Durability is one of Luque’s biggest assets, and he doesn’t mind walking through fire to deliver a knockout. He said he learned a lot of lessons in his last fight and this time around he will be looking to be more aggressive and be the type of fighter that has gotten him to his current ranked status as the No. 6 welterweight in the world.
Luckily for Luque, Neal is standing in the other corner. He averages 4.63 strikes landed per minute, accurately landing 49% of his strikes and attempting 0.50 takedowns per fight. Neal also defends takedowns 85% of the time, compared to Luque’s 61%. Keep in mind that Luque does have good takedown defense but will sometimes opt to grapple when the submission presents itself. Neal on the other hand will mostly look to keep the fight standing and does not mind meeting Luque in the middle of the octagon and letting his “hands of steel” fly. From a betting perspective I will be taking Luque to win by KO/TKO or Sub as both options are possible, and at +150 it’s better value than betting a singular method of victory.
Bet: Luque to win by KO/TKO or Sub (+150)
Usman vs. Pagua Odds
Mohammed Usman +200, Zac Pagua -250
Usman and Pagua fight Saturday to once and for all find the winner and top heavyweight on the 30th season of The Ultimate Fighter. The winner of this fight takes home a big check and a contract. I won’t be betting this fight, but I will be watching hoping Pagua wins and knocks Usman out. Usman is in fact the brother of welterweight champ Kamaru Usman in case you were wondering, but that doesn’t matter much as this Usman is light years away in comparison.
Bet: NO BET/ Lean Pagua (-250)
Miller vs. Walker Odds
Juliana Miller -115, Brogan Walker -150
Miller and Walker are also fighting for the finale of their Ultimate Fighter season. Both fighters deserve to be in this position and I’m sure they have worked very hard, but I just can’t see myself placing a bet here. Walker seems to be the more experienced MMA fighter as Miller has only ever been active on the professional jiujitsu scene. Both have a very similar style as they prefer to be on the ground, making it difficult for their opponents. From a betting perspective, I’ll be fading this fight and instead will opt to simply watch the finale, but gun to my head, I’d lean Miller, who seems to be better versed in jiujitsu if it does hit the ground.
Bet: No bet/Lean Miller (-115)
Sakai vs. Spivak Odds
Augusto Sakai +220, Serghei Spivak -270
Sakai opened as a +175 underdog and is currently a slightly bigger dog at +220. Spivak opened as a moderate favorite at -200 and is currently a slightly bigger favorite at -270. When it comes to the measurables these fighters are almost identical with only one inch of reach separating the two — both are 6-foot-3 with reaches over 75 inches. They also both fight in an orthodox stance and even fight in a similar patient style. They don’t throw many combos or much volume for that matter and instead look for the power shot to finish a fight, like Sakai does often or look to set up entries for the takedown like Spivak.
Sakai averages 5.04 strikes landed per minute at a 48% clip while absorbing 4.09 strikes per minute, He is very durable and capable of taking one to give one back. His durability and willingness to step into a firefight has gotten him into trouble recently, as he is on a three-fight losing streak that has seen him get finished. Spivak is similar to Sakai in the sense that he is always looking for the finish with a patient approach. Spivak is a bit more patient than Sakai as Spivak averages 3.79 strikes landed per minute while absorbing 3.22 strikes per minute.
Like Sakai, Spivak is accurate almost 50% of the time with his strikes but where they differ greatly is in the takedown department. Spivak attempts 3.29 takedowns per fight, compared to Sakai who defends 68% of takedown attempts and returns a mere 0.14 takedown attempts per fight. I see the advantage going to Spivak in that department and possibly even finding a clear path to victory. It may take more than one takedown attempt for Spivak to get Sakai to the ground, but once he does get it down on the mat, I can only assume that Spivak will have his way and either dominate his way to a unanimous decision or find a submission win. Sakai carries a lot of knockout power and because of this power I’d expect Spivak to have a grapple heavy game plan look for the finish that way. From a betting perspective I’ll be taking this fight to go over 1.5 rounds as both fighters average well over the 7.5-minute mark and that is all we need to cash.
Bet: Over 1.5 Rounds (-145)
Lipski vs. Cachoeira Odds
Ariane Lipski -175, Priscila Cachoeira +145
Usually in women’s MMA you can bet the fight to go the distance and win 70-80% of the time. But these two fighters are always looking for the finish, and I don’t see them doing anything different this weekend. Cachoeira is the owner of one of the most controversial decisions in recent history when she was visibly beaten up badly by Yi Jeon Kim and somehow won by unanimous decision, leaving the MMA community in an uproar. It is because of that fight that I fade most women’s MMA fights now, and I will be continuing that trend — I have no bet here and will just be watching. If I were to place one, it would be on Lipski, as I think she is the better fighter everywhere and just has more tools and paths to victory.
Bet: No Bet/Lean Lipski (-185)
Oleksiejczuk vs. Alvey Odds
Michal Oleksiejczuk -600, Sam Alvey +450
Oleksiejczuk is coming down from the light heavyweight division, where he was a bit undersized to the middleweight division for this fight. Alvey is fighting for his job as this is the last fight on his current UFC contract. Currently on a slump, Alvey is always a fun fighter to watch but a terror to bet on, and Oleksiejczuk is no different. I will not be betting this fight and will save my money and root for violence instead.
Bet: No bet/Lean Oleksiejczuk by KO/TKO (-112)
McKinney vs. Gonzalez Odds
Terrance McKinney -900, Erick Gonzalez +600
One of the most exciting fighters in the lightweight division, “T.Wrecks” McKinney faces “The Ghost Pepper” Gonzalez Saturday. McKinney opened as a huge favorite at -1000 and is currently at -900 while his opponent is a +600 underdog. McKinney made his debut in 2021 and quickly put the lightweight division on notice when he dispatched Matt Frevola seven seconds into the fight.
McKinney is 5-foot-10 with a 73-inch reach and fights out of switch stance. He averages 3:06 of fight time and 4.11 strikes landed per minute with 59% accuracy. McKinney doesn’t only possess a death touch though, as he showed his grappling chops against Fares Ziam when he submitted him in the first round and notched himself recognition for one of the best submissions in 2022. With a lot of upside comes a bit of downside though, as McKinney’s willingness to look for the finish quickly can at times leave him vulnerable, which is why all of his losses come by way of stoppage. McKinney has been knocked out twice and subbed once during his pro career so Gonzalez — who possess some power of his own — has an opportunity of catching McKinney during an exchange and wobbling him like he wobbled Jim Miller during his debut in 2021.
During that fight, Gonzalez looked for his finish from the first bell, but the durable and savvy Miller was able to cool the heat and eventually find a knockout finish early in the second round. The troubling thing about that knockout is that the person who knocked him out is known as a submission hunter, and he was fighting in his 50th professional fight.
If the same shots connect for McKinney, I don’t expect Gonzalez to last long and could in fact get himself in trouble coming forward against a counter puncher like McKinney. Anywhere this fight goes if McKinney stays patient and doesn’t rush looking for the finish, he can end this in the very first round if not early in the second like Miller. With most of the knockout props already juiced substantially I’ll be placing a bet on McKinney to win by KO/TKO or DQ and also McKinney to win by specifically KO/TKO stoppage in the first round as both bets are at plus money and should cover how this fight ends.
Bets: McKinney by KO/TKO (+115)/McKinney by KO/TKO stoppage in Round 1 (+200)
Battle vs. Sato Odds
Bryan Battle -275, Takashi Sato +220
This fight features two fighters who are new in the UFC — Sato made his debut in 2019, and Battle came through Season 29 of The Ultimate Fighter in 2021. Battle is 6-foot-1” and holds a four-inch reach advantage over Sato at 77 inches and has a high output averaging 7.10 strikes landed per minute. With high volume like Battle’s, you’d expect him to have a decent accuracy rate, but in fact he lands over 50% of his strikes and defends 40% of strikes coming his way. Battle’s defense can be questionable at times, which could be dangerous against a fighter like Sato who only needs to connect his left straight once to shut the lights off. To compensate for the poor defense, Battle is very durable and will fight for your money and go out on his shield if need be. It’s why, even with fewer pro fights than Sato, Battle is the favorite in this spot and not the type of favorite I would place a money line bet priced at -275. Instead, I will attack from a prop angle and take this fight to not go the distance at plus money and also sprinkle on a Battle sub prop at +400.
Bet: FDGTD (+105)
Witt vs. Quinlan Odds
Josh Quinlan -225, Jason Witt +185
Quinlan makes his debut at UFC Vegas 59 after his 47-second knockout win on the Contender Series last year. He debuts against the “Vanilla Gorilla,” Witt, who also possess finishing ability but does not show much durability — all of his losses in the UFC have come by way of stoppage. Against a berserker like Quinlan, I expect this fight to be simple and short like this breakdown and I will be betting Quinlan to win inside the distance at -185 and will also take a stab at him finishing in the first round at +150 odds.
Bets: Quinlan ITD (-185)/Quinlan in Round 1 (+150)
McKenna vs. Grander Odds
Cory McKenna -220, Miranda Grander +185
After watching tape on these fighters, I can’t bring myself to place a bet, but if I had to place a bet or lean in a direction I’d have to go with the reach and height advantage of Granger. McKenna is a good well-rounded fighter with a high output and relentless pace but lacks size and will have to close the distance in this fight to get this to the mat and have success. Granger defends the takedown 40% of the time and with the size advantage here I would expect her to keep McKenna at range and keep the underhooks against the cage to keep this standing. No bet for me here, I’ll just be watching as a fan.
Bet: No bet/Lean Granger (+185)
Egger vs. Bueno-Silva Odds
Stephanie Egger -130, Mayra Bueno-Silva +110
This is an interesting fight, as Bueno Silva is one of the bigger women in her division and also carries a lot of power when she connects. Egger is already being compared to Ronda Rousey after her third fight in the UFC. She brings a judo background and finishing ability that has produced four first-round finishes in her pro career, with only three fights going to decision. In her last fight against Jessica Rose Clark, Egger had a substantial size advantage and used it to get a judo throw and armbar finish quickly in Round 1. With both fighters averaging less than 10 minutes of fight time, I am going to take a stab at this fight not going the distance at plus money. Both fighters are evenly matched in height and reach, and they also don’t like the judges to be involved. Let’s start out the night with some violence in the women’s bantamweight division.
Bet: FDGTD (+140)