There aren't many better action fights the UFC could make than Saturday's Fight Night headliner between Thiago Santos and Johnny Walker. Both light heavyweight strikers have 15 career victories by knockout and less than 20% of their combined fights have gone to the judges' scorecards.
Both Walker and Santos are in need of a big victory. Santos earned a title shot against champion Jon Jones in July 2019, battling the greatest light heavyweight in history to a close split decision loss. Santos tore his ACL, PCL, MCL and meniscus as well as breaking his tibia in the loss to Jones. After more than a year on the sidelines, Santos returned to action in November 2020, losing by submission to Glover Teixeira before dropping a decision to Aleksandar Rakic this past March. He now enters the fight with Walker on a three-fight losing skid.
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Walker only recently snapped his own losing skid. After beginning his UFC career with three straight knockouts in less than three minutes combined, Walker was knocked out by Corey Anderson in just over two minutes. The loss to Anderson was followed up with a decision loss to Nikita Krylov. In September 2020, Walker got back in the win column by knocking out Ryan Spann in less than three minutes. He'll need more impressive performances if he's hoping to make a run at an eventual title shot.
Walker has since moved his camp to SBG and John Kavanagh in Ireland. He believes his new coach has him moving in the right direction and ready to take over the light heavyweight division.
"I think he wants to make a project with me," Walker said in an interview with MMA Fighting. "He wants to make another project, so I'm betting on him the same way he's betting on me. It will work out.
"John is training me like a son here. He helps me with everything, puts the right guys to train with me. Everything I need. I have great report from him."
There's tons of exciting fights to be found on the undercard on Saturday night in Las Vegas. None may be more interesting than the co-main event between middleweights Kevin Holland and Kyle Daukaus. Holland was a fast riser amid the pandemic, where he went an astounding 5-0 in 2020 with four stoppages. But once the level of competition rose, Holland had no answers for wrestlers as Derek Brunson and Marvin Vettori handled him with ease. Now, he comes into this matchup after spending tons of time working on his wrestling background. Daukaus has lost two of his three appearances in the Octagon with all three fights going to decision.
Plus, all-action fighter Niko Price is back when he takes on veteran Alex Oliveira in a welterweight feature contest. Price, 32, has one of the wildest resumes in the promotion. The Florida native has had just one fight in 13 trips reach the judges scorecards with each bout producing incredible highlights one way or the other. He enters off a decision loss to Michel Pereira in July and a loser in three of his last four, but Price is always dangerous to score a finish. Oliveira, meanwhile, has had just as many struggles near the end of his career. The Brazilian has lost two straight and five of his last seven.
Here's the fight card for UFC Fight Night with the latest odds from Caesars Sportsbook.
UFC Fight Night card, odds
Thiago Santos -160
Johnny Walker +135
Kevin Holland -170
Kyle Daukaus +145
Niko Price -170
Alex Oliveira +145
|Krzysztof Jotko -150||Misha Cirkunov +125||Middleweight|
|Alexander Hernandez -550||Mike Breeden +400||Lightweight|
UFC Fight Night viewing information
Date: Oct. 2 | Start time: 7 p.m. ET
Location: UFC Apex -- Las Vegas
Thiago Santos vs. Johnny Walker: Santos has not looked the same since the Jones fight. That's not exactly surprising since his knee was completely destroyed. Still, he has not looked good in his two fights since. Walker is a flawed fighter, for sure, but most of his bigger issues are also issues for Santos. Both men have some significant cardio issues so the fight could get ugly in a hurry if there's not an early finish. This is a coin flip fight that could come down to who lands the first good flurry, but Santos needs to prove he's fully back to earn the benefit of the doubt in a dangerous fight. Pick: Johnny Walker via TKO2
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