The UFC returns to the Apex in Las Vegas this weekend for a showcase of two of the promotion's featured series, with The Ultimate Fighter finale fights taking place along with the card being headlined by Dana White's Contender Series standout Jamahal Hill -323 as he takes on former title challenger Thiago Santos +235. This card also features a clash of top-tier Welterweight strikers as Vicente Luque -196 squares off with Geoff Neal +150.
All Odds Provided by Stake.com Accurate as of 5:00 PM EST 8/4/2022
Our headliner features two powerful Lightheavyweights in a top ten matchup. Thiago Santos was once a boogeyman-type figure in this division with terrifying knockout power; however, in his last few showings, he has lost something. Jamahal Hill has been an excellent jolt for the division since he sparked top prospect Jimmy Crute, taking many by surprise, and he will look to continue his rise using the clean boxing that has earned him six knockouts in ten career wins.
I'm taking Jamahal Hill here as I have a hard time seeing Santos outstrike him at this point in his career. I think this fight may go longer than some expect as Santos is very tough, and although Hill has knockout power, he can go rounds.
Pick: Jamahal Hill O/U: Over 2.5 +134
This has fight of the night written all over it as two powerful strikers clash at Welterweight. Vicente Luque is one of the most violent men on the roster, and he has a well-rounded offensive attack along with a granite chin. Geoff Neal is a polished boxer with good defensive tendencies and sneaky high kicks.
I will take Neal here as we have seen Luque make fights with good strikers close repeatedly, and I believe Neal is a good enough striker to win a close decision. I also like the over 2.5 rounds, as these two are very durable, and I see this fight being a close decision that gets to deep waters no matter who wins.
Pick: Geoff Neal O/U: Over 2.5 -101
The Heavyweight finale of TUF 30 sees two team Pena teammates face off for the contract. Zac Pauga is well-rounded despite being undersized for the division, and he trains with one of the best camps in the world at Elevation Fight Team. Mohammed Usman is a powerful puncher, although he doesn't throw much volume and doesn't have great setups for his big shots.
I like Pauga here, as I think he has the skills to dominate this fight everywhere it goes. I think Pauga will be able to see all of the big shots Usman throws and counter them with his speed advantage.
Pick: Zac Pauga O/U: Over 2.5 -115
In the Flyweight finale, we see a matchup of two women with very different paths to this opportunity. Juliana Miller has a very aggressive grappling attack, but she gets hit a lot in the standup. Brogan Walker is much more experienced, having already fought high-caliber UFC opposition, and she will have a significant advantage in striking.
I am taking Brogan Walker here, and I'm not sure why she is the underdog, as I understand Miller has become a fan favorite; however, she is very young in her career and still has flaws. I feel Brogan Walker is much more prepared for this fight at this stage in her career.
Pick: Brogan Walker O/U: Over 2.5 -385
Here we get a fun Heavyweight brawl between two fighters looking for traction. Augusto Sakai was thrust into the top end of the division early, and he has significantly struggled since suffering three straight knockout losses. Sergey Spivak has a fantastic wrestling game with nasty ground and pound.
I've got Spivak here, and I think he finishes Sakai however, this is a tough price for a Heavyweight fight which I already prefer to avoid.
Pick: Sergey Spivak O/U: Under 2.5 -172
This should be an excellent striking battle between Flyweight. Ariane Lipski is a sharp striker who has also shown off some crafty grappling. Priscila Cachoeira is also a striker with solid power and pressure; however, she is very hittable.
I'll take Lipski here as I think she has the better striking and grappling is unlikely to come into the equation. No bet here from me, as this line is a bit wide for me to be confident in a play.
Pick: Ariane Lipski O/U: Over 2.5 -192
Here we get a Middleweight matchup. Oleksiejczuk has spent most of his career at Lightheavyweight but will make a move down here, which I feel will suit him. Sam Alvey comes into this one-on without a win in his last eight fights and although many were close he has not looked very good.
I can't back a fighter on a streak like Alvey's one. The price is steep, so combining Oleksiejczuk with some of the other big favorites on the card is the best way to get value here.
Pick: Michal Oleksiejczuk O/U: Over 1.5 -167
Terrance McKinney is back after another fun fight against Drew Dober as he takes on Erik Gonzalez. McKinney is a finisher of the highest order with knockout and submission ability that he has already shown against high-level competition. Gonzalez is coming off a knockout loss to Jim Miller in his UFC debut almost ten months ago.
McKinney is a massive favorite here, so it is tough to get value out of him; even going with the round-one play is too steep. I found a round-one knockout line to play at over +200 but other than that, McKinney is tough to play.
Pick: Terrance McKinney O/U: Under 1.5 -217
Here we get the return of last season's TUF winner, moving down to Welterweight against veteran Takashi Sato. Sato is a solid striker but struggles with grappling and is unlikely to show improvement at this stage in his career. Bryan Battle is a good volume striker with a solid ground game to go with it.
I'll take Battle here as I think he uses his grappling to win but could win the standup as well. This number is very steep for someone as untested as Battle.
Pick: Bryan Battle O/U: Over 2.5 -147
Josh Quinlan makes his debut off the contender series against UFC veteran Jason Witt. Witt has been up and down over his last few and it's tough to tell whether he will show up or not. Josh Quinlan is a powerful striker who has finished each of his professional wins. However, he is coming off a suspension for performance-enhancing drugs that overturned his contender series result.
I've got Quinlan, as I think his physical advantages outweigh the experience advantage of Witt. I will not bet this, as it's a steep line for a guy coming off a suspension.
Pick: Josh Quinlan O/U: Under 1.5 +120
This is a Flyweight matchup between two women who could use this win early in their UFC careers. Cory McKenna is coming off a close loss to Elise Reed in which it felt like she had chances to win. Miranda Granger is coming off multiple losses as a favorite in which she has not looked as good as many had hoped.
I'll go with Cory McKenna in this fight, as she can be a solid prospect in the Flyweight division. No bet, though, as I was burned by McKenna her last time out and have a hard time trusting her at this price.
Pick: Cory McKenna O/U: Over 2.5 -312
A close matchup here at Bantamweight to start the night that began the week at a pick'em and has since shifted slightly. Mayra Bueno Silva is a skilled grappler with several submissions on her resume. Stephanie Egger is also a solid grappler with both submission and ground and pound skills.
This line has moved in the direction of Egger all week, and I think that makes sense, as Egger has more ways to win. No bet from me, as any value that may have been there on Egger is gone.
Pick: Stephanie Egger O/U: Over 2.5 -222
Geoff Neal +150
Zac Pauga -263
Brogan Walker -101
Vicente Luque Geoff Neal Over 2.5 -101
Geoff Neal by decision +390
Terrance McKinney Round 1 Knockout +215
Terrance McKinney, Michal Oleksiejczuk, Jamahal Hill -152
Keep up to date with the latest from the Verdict community by signing up for our regular updates.