I don’t recall there being an inordinate amount of doubt about Jamahal Hill’s skills as a UFC fighter or questions about where he was heading, but some of that talk must have reached Hill’s ears because he brought up that topic after his knockout win over Johnny Walker at UFC Vegas 48.
“I’m feeling great,” Hill told UFC commentator Paul Felder as Walker was being tended to by the medical staff at the event. “I just wanted to come out here and show myself again and show what I can do. It’s time to start having a different kind of conversation, because you’re asking the wrong questions about me.”
With that, Felder asked the obvious follow up, “What should we be asking you?”
“Where’s he going next? How good am I, for real? Stop doubting. Start believing, because it’s real,” Hill replied.
With two consecutive “Performance of the Night” bonus-winning first-round knockout wins, Hill has a point.
Read on for the real winners and losers from UFC Vegas 48, which took place at UFC Apex in Las Vegas and streamed on ESPN+.
Jamahal Hill: Jamahal Hill might have less than five years of MMA experience to his name, but he’s quickly climbing the UFC light heavyweight rankings. On Saturday, Hill scored a devastating knockout win over Johnny Walker in the main event of UFC Vegas 48. Hill was the No. 12 ranked fighter ahead of the bout, while Walker checked in at No. 10 (in the official UFC rankings).
Hill perfectly timed a counter right that put Walker down and out at 2:55 of the first round and there was no doubt about the end of the fight.
Hill has finished his past two fights in under four minutes combined. He might be inexperienced, but his striking has him on the come up in a rather shallow weight division.
Jamahal Hill II: I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again, Jamahal Hill has the type of cold confidence that is absent in many fighters these days. He doesn’t feel the need to beat his chest and employ histrionics in his post-fight interviews to draw attention to himself. I like that. The loudly confident often come across as if they’re trying to convince not just the fans, but themselves, of how good they are. Hill does not give off that vibe at all.
Kyle Daukaus: Kyle Daukaus earned an impressive last second submission win over Jamie Pickett. Daukaus fought an incredibly smart bout against Pickett. He used good wrestling, nice head movement and defensive striking, combined with just the right amount of pressure and patience to set up the choke that got him the win with one tick left on the clock in the first round.
Jim Miller: Jim Miller fought in his record 39th UFC fight on Saturday. And like he has done throughout his MMA career, he fought for the finish and he got it. Miller’s TKO stoppage of the debuting Nikolas Motta – who was the favorite over his veteran opponent — marked the first time in his career that Miller has scored two knockout wins in a row.
With the victory, Miller is now tied for first in UFC career wins with Donald Cerrone with 23.
Joaquin Buckley: Joaquin Buckley fought a smart style against Abdul Razak Alhassan, at least through the first two rounds. Buckley used wrestling to put pressure on his opponent and to sap his energy. Buckley also relied on volume striking to keep Alhassan on the defensive rather than focusing on power and going for the knockout. Buckley’s cardio failed him in the third round, but he still got the split decision win.
David Onama: Gabriel Benitez put David Onama on his back foot in the early going of their bout, but that didn’t stop Onama, the “fighter to watch at UFC Vegas 48,” from throwing his strikes with power.
Onama ate a lot of heavy leg kicks in the early going of the fight and then ate a nasty punch to the eye, but after he slowed things down with a takedown attempt following that strike to his eye, Onama took over. He pushed forward and took away the kicks of his opponent. Once he did that, Onama unleashed a litany of strikes that left Benitez crumpled and out cold on the mat.
Onama started a little slower in this fight than he did in his UFC debut and that allowed Benitez to pull ahead early. That’s something to watch, but big picture, Onama is a prospect who demands attention.
Stephanie Egger: Stephanie Egger used what Jessica-Rose Clark gave her to get the win at UFC Vegas 48. Egger got a nice trip from the clinch and then followed that with a throw that led to an armbar submission. Clark fought to Egger’s strengths in this scrap and paid for that decision.
I don’t expect we will see Egger’s future opponents so willing to engage her in the clinch.
Chas Skelly: Congrats to Chas Skelly for scoring a knockout in what he said (we all know to be wary of MMA retirements by now) might be his final UFC/MMA fight. The stoppage win was the first for Skelly since he scored a TKO over Jim Alers in 2015.
This fight was the first for Skelly since 2019.
Diana Belbita vs. Gloria de Paula: Diana Belbita vs. Gloria de Paula was a fun striking battle. Gloria de Paula did an excellent job of targeting the head of her opponent, but then getting her hands back to cover up defensively. Meanwhile, Diana Belbita was very effective with her body attacks.
Chad Anheliger: In a fight where the cards could have been all over the place, Chad Anheliger took the judges out of the equation with a nasty TKO win in the third round over Jesse Strader.
The fight was Anheliger’s first for the UFC, but the 35-year-old Canadian is now on a 10-fight winning streak with eight stoppages during that run.
Christian Rodriguez: Christian Rodriguez lost his UFC debut. He fell to Jonathan Pearce at featherweight, but Rodriguez took the fight at short notice and at a 145 pounds instead of his normal 135 pounds.
With that being said, Rodriguez’s performance at UFC Vegas 48 impressed me. The 24-year-old, who reps Roufusport, looks like he has the tools to have success at 135 pounds in the UFC. What impressed me the most from Rodriguez was his use of combinations in his striking. Rodriguez doesn’t have fast hands, but he has power and he makes up for that lack of speed by using effective combinations.
Mario Bautista: Mario Bautista looked very good in his first fight in nearly a year. Bautista, who lost to Trevin Jones via TKO in March 2021, came out fast and aggressive in his bantamweight matchup against Jay Perrin.
Bautista set a high pace throughout the 15 minutes the fight lasted. He was very effective in his striking. Even when he and his opponent went to the clinch, Bautista looked to do damage, using elbows, knees, dirty boxing and shoulder strikes. Bautista simply overwhelmed and outworked Perrin. This was an excellent effort from the 28-year-old.
Jamahal Hill’s arm: Jamahal Hill’s right forearm took a lot of damage in his brief fight with Johnny Walker. The arm, which Hill used to block some head kicks, was incredibly swollen. In his post-fight interview, Hill dismissed the damage as “just some swelling.” Hopefully, for Hill’s sake — he has a ton of momentum right now — that is the case and he can get back in the cage as soon as possible.
Johnny Walker: MMA is an unforgiving sport. Between November 2018 and March 2019, Johnny Walker knocked out Khalil Rountree Jr. (0:15), Justin Ledet (1:57) and Misha Cirkunov (0:36). With that, the hype behind Walker was high. Since then, Walker has gone 1-4 with two knockout and two decision losses.
It’s going to be interesting to see what the UFC does with Walker after this loss. His job probably isn’t in danger and he’s still young enough at 29 to work his way back into the mix, but the UFC is going to need to book him some, let’s say favorable, matchups and the promotion is not usually big on favors to fighters who are struggling to get wins.
Nikolas Motta: Nikolas Motta made his UFC debut on Saturday and he had some good moments in that matchup against Jim Miller. Motta did an excellent job of counter striking, but he’ll likely look back at this bout as a learning experience and an opportunity squandered.
Motta rocked Miller in the first round, but he did not follow up after hurting his opponent. His focus on counters allowed Miller to lead the dance, and he didn’t deal well with Miller’s leg kicks.
Abdul Razak Alhassan: Abdul Razak Alhassan is now 0-4 when his fights go the distance. At 36, I don’t see Alhassan changing his style, but the book is written on him, if you can avoid his power and extend him to the final bell, the odds are good that Alhassan will be on the losing side of a decision.
Jessica-Rose Clark: Jessica-Rose Clark (and/or her coaches) might have overestimated her clinch work against Stephanie Egger. Clark took the fight to the clinch and paid for it with a trip. Instead of resetting and working a striking game, Clark went to the clinch when the fight got back to standing. Egger then landed a nice throw that led to a submission loss for Clark.
Jesse Strader: Jesse Strader got stopped by Chad Anheliger and while standing unsteadily on his feet, he said, “C’mon, Herb,” to referee Herb Dean as he staggered forward. Strader can try to say that was a bad stoppage, but his body language said otherwise.
ESPN: ESPN did everyone a disservice by not having a camera (with audio) focused on Dale Brown of Detroit Urban Survival Training (aka D.U.S.T) fame throughout Joaquin Buckley vs. Abdul Razak Alhassan as Brown was in the corner of Buckley for his win over Alhassan.
UFC commentators: It feels like there is a point during every UFC event where the commentary team reveals their ignorance of how MMA fights are scored. At UFC Vegas 48 that time was during the strawweight bout between Gloria de Paula and Diana Belbita.
“It’s been entertaining, but how do you score it if there’s no other mixed martial arts? (This fight has been) mostly stand up. By the numbers. It probably goes by the numbers then, right?” Asked UFC commentator and former WEC and UFC champion Dominick Cruz.
“I would say so,” answered his broadcast partner, Jon Anik.
That is 100 percent incorrect. Numbers — and I’m assuming Cruz was talking about the striking numbers — are not mentioned anywhere in the MMA scoring criteria when it comes to striking. And that’s why the judges don’t get information on numbers during fights, because they shouldn’t be considering those numbers at all.
It’s baffling and frustrating how often the UFC’s commentators misrepresent the scoring criteria on UFC broadcasts.
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