The UFC returns to the APEX this weekend for another UFC Fight Night card which showcases two young 205 pounders looking to make a leap into the upper echelon of the division.
Johnny Walker vs Jamahal Hill – Main Event
After the original main event of Rafael Fiziev and Rafael dos Anjos was rescheduled for March, Johnny Walker and Jamahal Hill were handed the reins to headline UFC Vegas 48. This is Hill’s first time headlining a UFC card and Walker’s second, after his recent loss to Thiago Santos in October, 2021. Hill comes into this fight on the back of a huge win over Jimmy Crute, who he finished in 48 seconds, and, I wouldn’t be surprised if we see a quick finish in this bout either!
How might the fight play out?
This is a very hard question to answer as it all depends on how Johnny Walker approaches this fight. Will we see the crazy, athletic and unorthodox Walker that started his run in the UFC with his first four fights finishing in the first round? Or, will we see the more patient Walker who lost to Santos in a five-round decision late last year? I believe Walker’s team, SBG Ireland, want the Brazilian to find something in the middle, but how achievable is that having only worked with the team for a short time, whilst still being quite young? I don’t think we will see the best Johnny Walker for at least a year or two as he tries to adapt to a more measured approach under new tutelage. Either way, I believe Hill has the better overall striking which he showed in his two most recent wins. When he stays within himself, uses his speed and doesn’t overextend on his punches he looks very dangerous, and I think he will be able to tag Walker with this approach. But, if Walker wants to get into a fire-fight, the odds become a lot closer to even. For this fight, I think a return to the Johnny Walker of old may be the best approach, as staying at range will most likely see a similar result to the Santos fight. The moneyline odds on this look about right, but with the chances of Walker winning by decision looking quite slim, I see his probability of victory weighing heavily on finding a KO blow.
Our best bet: Johnny Walker via KO $4.00 at PlayUp
Abdul Razak Alhassan vs Joaquin Buckley – Main Card Bout
This fight can be referred to as the “People’s Main Event”, especially if it stays on the feet. Both these men have some of the best highlight reels going around. Every win in Abdul Razak Alhassan’s career has come by way of first round knockout! On the other hand, Buckley has won 75% of his fights via KO, the most notable being his jump spinning back kick KO over Impa Kasanganay in 2020.
How might the fight play out?
Alhassan’s chances weigh heavily on finding a first round finish due to his explosive style and inability to sustain power over three rounds. Look for him to be reasonably patient in the early goings and wait to explode on Buckley with some heavy hands and kicks. One thing working in his favour is Buckley has a tendency to be caught with head kicks, adding another avenue to victory for Alhassan. But unfortunately for Alhassan, the blueprint is out there on how to overcome his explosive style; either try your luck in the stand-up or take a more grappling-heavy approach to tire him out. Buckley has the tools to take either approach but it would serve him well if he tried to take Alhassan into deep waters. Buckley has decent wrestling and does like to push his opponents against the fence for long periods, so there is a good chance he looks to get Alhassan into those positions and either hold him there or look for a takedown. Either way, this will slowly sap Alhassan’s energy and pay dividends as the fight goes on. Once he has Alhassan tired, then you should see Buckley be more willing to trade punches or kicks, and find a finish from there. Similar to Walker vs Hill, it’s very hard to see the Ghanaian win by submission or decision, victory by KO/TKO seems his most likely avenue by a long way..
Our best bet: Abdul Razak Alhassen via KO $3.50 at PlayUp