UFC on ESPN+ 59: Walker vs. Hill Preview

Ranked light heavyweights Johnny Walker and Jamahal Hill will meet in the main event of UFC’s “Fight Night” card on Saturday night.

The fight wasn’t originally intended to headline the promotion’s February 19th card but was shifted into the main event spot after a fight between Rafael dos Anjos and Rafael Fiziev were removed from the lineup.

The event in general has undergone numerous changes in recent days, putting numerous short-notice fighters into the show and making it a different event altogether.

Here’s a preview of the entire card.

Click here to skip to a preview of the main card.

Preliminary Card (4:00PM EST / 1:00PM PST) (ESPN+ / TSN 2)

Bout 1: Jesse Strader (5-2) vs. Chad Anheliger (11-5) (Bantamweight)

Chad Anheliger will make his UFC debut on the prelims when facing Jesse Strader.

Anheliger secured a UFC contract on the most recent season of “Dana White’s Contender Series,” fighting to a split decision victory over Muin Gafurov. This continued a strong winning streak that he first started on the regional scene, moving the run to nine victories in total.

While Saturday won’t be a UFC debut for Strader, he is still searching for his first win with the promotion. He lost his first fight for the promotion in March 2021, getting stopped by strikes in the first round of a fight against Montel Jackson.

Bout 2: Diana Belbita (14-6) vs. Gloria de Paula (5-4) (Strawweight)

Strawweights Diana Belbita and Gloria de Paula are expected to meet as part of Saturday’s prelims.

Belbita is coming off her first UFC win, which was a unanimous decision over Hannah Goldy last year. Before then she had lost two consecutive losses in the promotion.

De Paula, still in her rookie year with the UFC, is fighting for her first win with the promotion. She struggled last year, dropping a decision to Jinh Yu Frey and getting stopped by Cheyanne Vlismas.

Bout 3: Chas Skelly (18-3) vs. Mark Striegl (18-3) (Featherweight)

The return of Chas Skelly is scheduled to finally happen when he meets Mark Striegl at featherweight.

Skelly, a UFC veteran of 11 appearances, has been out of the cage since 2019. He has certainly tried to get a fight since then, but luck has not been on his side. Between 2020 and 2021, four different bookings for Skelly fell through due to varying reasons.

Skelly’s last fight was a win in September 2019, defeating Jordan Griffin.

Striegl is also making somewhat of a return, competing for the first time in over a year. His last fight was in October 2020, where he lost his UFC debut to Said Nurmagomedov.

Bout 4: Jessica-Rose Clark (11-6) vs. Stephanie Egger (6-2) (Bantamweight)

In search of her third consecutive win at bantamweight, Jessica-Rose Clark will face Stephanie Egger on the prelims.

Clark moved up to bantamweight in 2019 after spending her first three UFC fights at flyweight. While she lost her debut in the weight class, she has recently turned things around by stopping Sarah Alpar and defeating Joselyne Edwards via decision.

Egger’s last appearance was her first UFC win. In that performance, she stopped Shanna Young in the second round with strikes. Her prior UFC fight was a loss to Tracy Cortez.

Bout 5: Gabriel Benitez (22-9) vs. David Onama (8-1) (Featherweight)

UFC veteran Gabriel Benitez will face David Onama in the next fight.

Onama took his first pro loss in his UFC debut last year, losing a decision to Mason Jones. This fight came on short notice for Onama and was following a strong run on the regional scene that saw him pick up eight wins.

Searching for his first UFC win, Onama will meet Benitez. The experienced fighter was set to return to action last month against TJ Brown, although that fight never came to fruition. His last fight was a stoppage loss to Billy Quarantillo last year.

Benitez missed weight for this fight, coming in two pounds over the non-championship limit at featherweight.

Bout 6: Mario Bautista (8-2) vs. Jay Perrin (10-4) (Bantamweight)

In a short-notice UFC debut, Jay Perrin will face Mario Bautista at bantamweight.

This matchup was reported for the first time earlier this week. Perrin is replacing Khalid Taha, who was the original opponent for Bautista.

Perrin is currently the CES Bantamweight Champion. He earned this belt in September 2021, securing a submission win over Josh Smith to earn the title. That fight also marked his 10th win through 14 appearances as a pro.

Bautista had a two-fight winning streak snapped in his last appearance, as Trevin Jones stopped him in March 2021.

Bout 7: Jonathan Pearce (11-4) vs. Christian Rodriguez (7-0) (Featherweight)

Undefeated Christian Rodriguez will make his debut on Saturday night against Jonathan Pearce. Like the fight involving Jay Perrin, Rodriguez joined this lineup on quite short notice in replacement of another fighter – in this case, he was stepping in to replace Austin Lingo.

Rodriguez has a pro record of seven wins. This includes appearances in Bellator, LFA, CFFC and UFC’s TV show “Dana White’s Contender Series.”

Pearce is currently on a roll in the UFC. He has stoppage his last two opponents, finishing Kai Kamaka III with strikes late in 2020 and submitting Omar Morales in his last appearance.

Main Card (7:00PM EST / 4:00PM PST) (ESPN+ / TSN 2)

Bout 8: Joaquin Buckley (13-4) vs. Abdul Razak Alhassan (11-4) (Middleweight)

Flashy middleweights Joaquin Buckley and Abdul Razak Alhassan will kick off Saturday’s main card. This fight was first set for January but was later booted to this card instead.

Buckley has been a kill-or-be-killed fighter in his UFC run thus far. Through five fights, he has won three and lost two, although all of them have ended via finish. His last win was in September, where he stopped Antonio Arroyo in the third round with strikes.

Razak Alhassan is coming off a potential must-win performance last year. He broke a three-fight losing streak in August 2021, stopping Alessio Di Chirico in 17 seconds due to a head kick.

Bout 9: Jim Miller (33-16) vs. Nikolas Motta (12-3) (Lightweight)

Former CFFC Lightweight Champion Nikolas Motta will make his long-awaited UFC debut on Saturday night against veteran Jim Miller.

Motta has been waiting for his UFC for a long time. He was booked for three debut fights in 2021, although they all fell off lineups for varying reasons. Because of this, he went the entire year without a fight.

Motta joined the UFC roster in 2020 with a win over Joseph Lowry on “Dana White’s Contender Series.”

The fight on Saturday is set to be Miller’s 39th UFC appearance. This will extend his promotion-wide record for most fights with the UFC. He put together a finish win in his last appearance, defeating Erick Gonzalez in October 2021.

Bout 10: Parker Porter (12-6) vs. Alan Baudot (8-2) (Heavyweight)

Heavyweights will be the focus next, as Parker Porter and Alan Baudot will fight.

Baudot is fighting for his first UFC win. He lost his promotional debut in 2020, and his second appearance was a no contest result. If he goes winless through three fights on Saturday night his spot in the promotion could certainly be under threat.

Porter has won his last two fights, defeating Josh Parisian and Chase Sherman via unanimous decision.

Bout 11: Kyle Daukaus (10-2) vs. Jamie Pickett (13-6) (Catchweight 195 lbs)

The co-main event will see middleweight regulars Kyle Daukaus and Jamie Pickett move up to a catchweight for a fight.

Pickett took this fight on short notice, replacing Julian Marquez. That is presumably the reason behind this fight being held up at a catchweight of 195 pounds.

Daukaus’ last fight was against Kevin Holland, although it finished with a no contest result due to an accidental clash of heads that hurt Daukaus during the finishing sequence. A win on Saturday for Dauakus will even his UFC record at two wins and two losses.

Pickett has turned his UFC career around as of late. After losing his first two appearances for the promotion, he has earned two wins and can get a third one on Saturday. His last victory came quite recently, defeating Joseph Holmes just last month.

Bout 12: Johnny Walker (18-6) vs. Jamahal Hill (9-1) (Light Heavyweight)

Light heavyweight fighters Johnny Walker and Jamahal Hill will fight for up to five rounds in Saturday’s main event. As mentioned before, this wasn’t the originally planned headline. Instead, it was elevated to that status last week.

This fight will be Hill’s first UFC main event appearance. He has scored three wins through five appearances since joining the UFC in 2020. He bounced back from his only pro loss in December, stopping Jimmy Crute in just 48 seconds with strikes. On Saturday, he could make a big statement with a win in the main event.

Walker lost his first UFC main event fight last year, going five rounds against Thiago Santos and ending up on the losing side of a unanimous decision result. This continued his unfortunate run recently which includes two wins in his last five fights.

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