UFC on ESPN 59: Santos vs. Hill Preview

UFC’s light heavyweight division will be the main spotlight this weekend, as ranked talents Jamahal Hill and Thiago Santos will face off. Riding the momentum of his first-ever UFC main event, Hill will aim to shoot up the 205-pound ranks with another victory. For Santos, this fight allows him to pick up a win after a recent unsuccessful performance.

That bout is scheduled to headline a card this weekend at the UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Along with that bout is a finale for “The Ultimate Fighter,” plus eight other UFC matchups. Here’s a full preview of the show.

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

Preliminary Card (7:00PM EDT / 4:00PM PDT) (ESPN / TSN 2)

Bout 1: Mayra Bueno Silva (8-2-1) vs. Stephanie Egger (7-2) (Bantamweight)

Bantamweights Mayra Bueno Silva and Stephanie Egger will kick off the evening.

Silva, a UFC vet of six appearances, is coming off a win over Yu Wanan from earlier this year.

Egger is currently on a two-fight winning streak. Her last fight was a quick win, catching Jessica-Rose Clark in the first round with an armbar.

Bout 2: Cory McKenna (6-2) vs. Miranda Granger (7-2) (Strawweight)

Miranda Granger will make her return on the prelims when she faces Cory McKenna.

Granger will be appearing for the first time in nearly two years. She returns with the goal of snapping a two-fight skid that she has taken in recent years. Her last win came in 2019 when she beat Hannah Goldy in her UFC debut.

McKenna suffered his first UFC loss earlier this year, dropping a split decision to Elise Reed.

Bout 3: Takashi Sato (16-5) vs. Bryan Battle (7-1) (Welterweight)

Bryan Battle will search for his third consecutive UFC win when he faces Takashi Sato this weekend.

Battle joined the UFC roster in 2021 by winning Season 29 of “The Ultimate Fighter.” He has since earned another victory, beating fellow “TUF” alum Tresean Gore on scorecards.

Sato will be fighting to snap a two-fight losing streak. He suffered his second consecutive defeat in March, losing a short-notice fight against Gunnar Nelson. His previous loss came back in 2020.

Bout 4: Terrance McKinney (12-4) vs. Erick Gonzalez (14-6) (Lightweight)

Attempting to come back from his first UFC loss, Terrance McKinney will battle Erick Gonzalez on Saturday night.

McKinney gained a lot of attention in recent months, scoring two quick wins to kick off his UFC campaign. Most notably, he stopped Matt Frevola in just seven seconds last year in his UFC debut.

But McKinney is now coming off a loss, getting finished in the first round by Drew Dober in March.

Gonzalez had an unsuccessful UFC debut last year, dropping a bout to veteran lightweight Jim Miller. Previous fights in his career include a long run in notable promotion Combate Global (then recognized as Combate Americas).

Bout 5: Michal Oleksiejczuk (16-5) vs. Sam Alvey (33-17-1) (Middleweight)

Experienced UFC middleweight Sam Alvey will likely wrap up his promotional run in the final prelim, facing Michal Oleksiejczuk.

Alvey has been on the UFC roster since 2014. He has become notorious in more recent years due to an unusually long skid. Since 2018, Alvey has lost seven fights and taken one draw. His last defeat came in February, getting submitted by Brendan Allen.

Alvey has publicly stated that his appearance this weekend is the last fight on his current UFC contract. Also, Alvey has said that he thinks even if he wins this weekend, it is not likely that he will remain on the UFC roster. This fight on the prelims could be Alvey’s unofficial send-off bout in the UFC.

Circumstances are less end-of-the-line for Oleksiejczuk. He had a two-fight winning streak broken earlier this year, taking a loss against Dustin Jacoby at UFC 272.

Main Card (10:00PM EDT / 7:00PM PDT) (ESPN / TSN 2)

Bout 6: Ariane Lipski (14-7) vs. Priscila Cachoeira (11-4) (Flyweight)

Saturday’s main card will open with a flyweight bout between Ariane Lipski and Priscila Cachoeira.

Cachoeira earned a “Fight of the Night” bonus for her last appearance, defeating Kim Ji-yeon via decision in February. Before then, she had a controversial loss to Gillian Robertson in late 2021.

Lipski will be appearing for the first time in 2021. She avoided falling into a three-fight losing streak in her last fight, beating UFC newcomer Mandy Bohm on scorecards.

Bout 7: Augusto Sakai (15-4-1) vs. Serghei Spivac (14-3) (Heavyweight)

Augusto Sakai will get the chance to break an extensive losing streak on Saturday night when he faces Serghei Spivac.

Sakai has taken three losses since 2020, albeit against high-profile names in the heavyweight division. This includes Alistair Overeem, Jairzinho Rozenstrucik, and, most recently, Tai Tuivasa. A loss on Saturday could possibly put an end to his UFC run, judging by how UFC usually manages struggling fighters.

Spivac has been significantly more successful than Sakai as of late. He has won four of his last five fights, with two of them coming via finish. His last win was a quick victory, stopping Greg Hardy in the first round of a bout in March.

Bout 8: Juliana Miller (2-1) vs. Brogan Walker (7-2) (The Ultimate Fighter Flyweight Grand Final)

In the first of two “The Ultimate Fighter” finales on this card, flyweights Juliana Miller and Brogan Walker will face off.

Miller succeeded on the show despite just three pro fights previously. She avenged her sole pro loss in the first fight of her bracket run, defeating Claire Guthrie earlier this year. Later on in the semi-finals, she submitted Kaytlin Neil to secure her grand-final spot.

Walker, also an Invicta FC alum, is a more experienced fighter. She has competed since 2014 and has a total of seven wins.

Walker scored two decision wins on “The Ultimate Fighter’s” previous rounds, beating Hannah Guy and Laura Gallardo.

Bout 9: Zac Pauga (5-0) vs. Mohammed Usman (7-2) (The Ultimate Fighter Heavyweight Grand Final)

Heavyweights will take the stage next, as “TUF” finalists Zac Pauga and Mohammed Usman will face off.

Much was made on “TUF” about Usman’s relation to current UFC Welterweight Champion Kamaru Usman. The current champ even appeared on the show, entering the fighter house during one episode.

Usman’s previous career fights include appearances in Titan FC and the PFL. He went three rounds in both of his prelim bouts, beating Mitchell Sipe and Eduardo Perez.

Pauga enters this weekend with a flawless pro record of five wins. He quickly attained those wins as a pro from 2020 to 2021, competing in notable regionals LFA and Cage Warriors.

Pauga won his first fight on “TUF” against Nyle Bartling, defeating him on scorecards. His semi-final fight saw him earn a finish, stopping Jordan Heiderman early in the second round with strikes.

Bout 10: Vicente Luque (21-8-1) vs. Geoff Neal (14-4) (Welterweight)

High-ranked welterweights Vicente Luque and Geoff Neal will appear in the co-main event of this weekend’s card.

Luque had a steady climb up the welterweight standings in recent years, scoring four consecutive finish wins from 2020 to 2021. That momentum was broken in April when Belal Muhammad went five rounds against him for a decision victory. He will look to get some momentum back on this weekend’s card.

Neal scored a decision win late last year, taking a split decision not against Santiago Ponzinibbio. He took two losses before then, albeit against notable names Stephen Thompson and Neil Magny.

Bout 11: Thiago Santos (22-10) vs. Jamahal Hill (10-1) (Light Heavyweight)

Thiago Santos and Jamahal Hill will look to be on the move in the light heavyweight rankings when they meet on Saturday night.

Santos will enter this bout ranked sixth in the division. Hill has a bigger chance to jump up the standings this weekend, currently seated 10th in the weight class.

Hill made his first-ever UFC main event appearance earlier this year, but it played out like many of his fights before. He didn’t escape the first round against Johnny Walker, scoring with an overhand right to stop their bout in the third minute.

The fight moved Hill’s overall UFC record to a solid four wins and one loss. This weekend not only gives Hill the chance to beat a former title challenger but also offers the opportunity to truly go into the deep waters of a main event for the first time.

Santos, no stranger to main event fights, will be aiming to turn things around. The veteran talent has struggled in recent years, winning just one of his five fights. This drop-off in success could in part be attributed to a major increase in opponent talent, facing names like Jon Jones, Glover Teixeira and Aleksandar Rakic.

Santos lost a headliner fight earlier this year, taking a unanimous decision defeat against Magomed Ankalaev. Five months before then, he beat Johnny Walker in a five-round fight.

A win on Saturday could help Santos find his footing in the division after a rocky few years near the top. But to do that he must hold off a hectic and fiery Hill.

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