Thiago Santos tops Johnny Walker by unanimous decision at UFC Fight Night

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A bout that was promoted as getting a sure bet to produce fireworks ended up becoming a dud.

Thiago Santos edged Johnny Walker by means of unanimous choice (48-47, 48-47, 48-47) in the primary celebration of UFC Combat Night time on Saturday in Las Vegas. The combat highlighted two of the most explosive knockout artists in the UFC light heavyweight division, but it in no way acquired out of 1st gear. A massive overhand left from Santos in the fifth spherical very likely sealed the victory in the shut, albeit lackluster, contest.

Santos to earn by conclusion was +650, in accordance to the Caesars Sportsbook. Neither man landed more than 11 important strikes in a solitary spherical.

“I attempted to do my finest,” Santos reported in his postfight news meeting. “I experimented with to knock him out, but it is really hard to get shut to him. He’s massive, but he moves rapid.”

ESPN has Santos ranked No. 10 in the world at gentle heavyweight and Walker was attempting to ascend the ladder. Equally males have been born in Brazil, but dwell and prepare elsewhere. Santos competes out of Florida’s American Best Crew and Walker trains at Dublin’s SBG Eire, the residence fitness center of Conor McGregor.

Santos reported in his postfight job interview on ESPN+ that he would upcoming like to encounter leading Czech Republic gentle heavyweight Jiri Prochazka.

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Walker held a 4-inch top and 6-inch arrive at benefit, so it built it challenging for the more compact Santos to get within where he is so helpful with his tough hooks. But Walker also wasn’t quite active offensively. The very best procedures of the combat were Santos’ kicks to the legs and system of Walker.

Walker had a reliable 1st round with leg kicks, trying to keep Santos at bay. Santos landed some difficult kicks to the body and legs of Walker in the 2nd spherical. In the third, Santos had his greatest head shot to that issue, a remaining that wobbled Walker off a Walker kick. Walker got again some momentum in the fourth spherical with some kicks and a right hand, his ideal punch of the night time.

Santos, even though, cemented the acquire in the fifth. He landed two difficult left hands and large physique kick. Walker failed to display substantially urgency down the extend and the bout went to a final decision.

Santos (22-9) arrived in tied for the second most KO/TKOs in UFC history with 11. “Marreta” snapped a three-combat losing streak with the victory. A single of people losses arrived from then-winner Jon Jones in a 2019 UFC mild heavyweight title combat in which Santos blew out both of those of his knees. Santos, 37, earned his first acquire Saturday because that surgical treatment. He was coming off a unanimous selection decline to Aleksandar Rakic at UFC 259 in March.

“I appear from a rough injury on my knees,” he claimed in his postfight job interview. “It really is so tricky to get better. … I was confident this combat I was heading to do 100% greater than my very last fights. And I did. I’m heading up, not down.”

Walker (18-6) was coming off a massive initial-round knockout about Ryan Spann in September 2020. This was only the third time he is been to a selection in his professional profession. He has won all four of his UFC bouts through end. Walker, 29, was deemed an superb prospect right before again-to-back again losses to Corey Anderson and Nikita Krylov in 2019 and 2020. Now, he has shed three of his earlier 4.