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UFC Vegas 59: Santos vs. Hill - Winners and Losers

The real winners and losers from UFC Vegas 59

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Jamahal Hill defeated Thiago Santos in the UFC Vegas 59 main event.
Jamahal Hill defeated Thiago Santos in the UFC Vegas 59 main event.
Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC

The winners on the UFC Vegas 59 fight card, which was light on big name talent, rewarded viewers with 10 stoppages in 10 fights.

In the main event, Jamahal Hill made a statement in the light heavyweight division with a TKO win over former title challenger Thiago Santos. In the co-main event, Geoff Neal became the first fighter in the 13-year career of Vicente Luque to stop Luque via strikes.

Before the headliners competed, Mohammed Usman and Juliana Miller picked up UFC contracts via their knockout wins in their final round bouts of season 30 of The Ultimate Fighter.

Read on for more info on the winners and losers from UFC Vegas 59, which took place at UFC Apex in Las Vegas.

Winners:

Jamahal Hill: Jamahal Hill made an enormous leap forward on Saturday night. He entered his bout against former light heavyweight title challenger Thiago Santos as the No. 10 ranked fighter in the official UFC 205-pound rankings and was coming off wins over Jimmy Crute and Johnny Walker. Santos represented a big step up in competition.

Hill handled himself admirably in the striking department, but his takedown defense was not great. That is an issue he’ll have to work on right away because the odds are odd that his win over Santos is going to find him matched up against a top-five opponent in his next UFC contest.

With his fourth-round knockout win over Santos, Hill made the move from prospect to contender and I expect the UFC to treat him as such, even though he is still very new to the sport, and that’s something fans and pundits should not forget. Hill has only been a pro fighter since 2017. As a comparison, current UFC light heavyweight champion, Jiri Prochazka, who is two years younger than the 31-year-old Hill, turned pro in 2012.

Geoff Neal: Geoff Neal made a statement on Saturday night. No. 13 in the official UFC welterweight rankings entering UFC Vegas 59, Neal became the first fighter to finish Vicente Luque via strikes.

Neal had power, placement and patience on his side in this matchup. Neal hurt Luque more than once during the scrap, but he never overextended himself. That approach paid off with the third-round knockout win over Luque, who was ranked No. 6 ahead of the matchup.

Neal’s performance at UFC Vegas 59 might have been his best effort inside the UFC octagon and it should result in a big jump in the rankings and a tough opponent the next time he steps inside the octagon.

Mohammed Usman: At 33, Mohammed Usman has joined his brother, UFC welterweight champion — and season 21 winner of The Ultimate Fighter, Kamaru, as a member of the UFC roster. Mohammed earned his TUF deal with a brutal knockout win over Zac Pauga. The end came via a short left hook that dropped Pauga. The follow up shot on the ground was terrifying.

If Usman can fight less like he did in Round 1 and more like he did in Round 2, he could make some noise in the UFC’s shallow heavyweight division.

Juliana Miller: Juliana Miller is a green fighter, but she is an aggressive and confident competitor. A work in progress, the 26-year-old earned a UFC contract on Saturday night with a one-sided win over Brogan Walker-Sanchez.

I’m not a big fan of fighters learning on the job under the UFC banner, but that’s what’s going to happen with Miller. On a positive note, she’s off to a good start with her third round TKO win at UFC Vegas 59.

Sergey Spivak: Don’t be surprised if Sergey Spivak enters the official UFC heavyweight rankings with the next update. Spivak dominated the No. 14 ranked Augusto Sakai for the entirety of their matchup. Spivak scored takedowns seemingly at will, going six-for-eight in that department. He also earned 6:37 in control time. During that time, Spivak was credited with one submission attempt and 24 landed significant ground strikes. It was those strikes that brought the fight to an end at 3:42 of Round 2. Spivak looked very good on Saturday night.

Terrance McKinney: In what seemed like a “let’s give the kid a reset” matchup. The UFC matchmakers booked Terrance McKinney opposite Erick Gonzalez at UFC Vegas 59 following McKinney’s first-round knockout loss to Drew Dober in March. McKinney rewarded the fans with a first-round knockout win. McKinney has 12 first-round stoppage victories. At 27, McKinney looks like a solid prospect, but the Dober loss raised some questions about his ceiling. This fight, designed to get McKinney back in the win column, didn’t answer any of those questions, but McKinney got back in the win column and with that he restored some luster to his name, with some assistance from the UFC commentary team, who clearly got the note to hype McKinney as much as possible.

Michal Oleksiejczuk: Michal Oleksiejczuk was 4-3-0-1 with the UFC heading into UFC Vegas 59. Following his March decision loss to Dustin Jacoby, the 27-year-old decided to give middleweight a try. Dropping from light heavyweight paid off for Oleksiejczuk, who took advantage of the countering style of Sam Alvey to score a first-round knockout win.

Bryan Battle: “I told you I got better.” That’s what Bryan Battle said after he knocked out Takashi Sato in 44 seconds. The impressive stoppage via a perfectly placed and timed head kick, moved Battle to 8-1 and was an outstanding way to win his first UFC fight at 170 pounds.

Cory McKenna: On Saturday, 23-year-old Cory McKenna became the first woman in UFC history to finish a fight via Von Flue choke. McKenna bounced back from a split-decision defeat in March to move her record to 7-2. McKenna looked calm and composed throughout the fight. She improved positions well on the mat and seemed to be situationally aware. Still a work in progress, McKenna is a very good grappler and if she focuses on her strengths while still working on developing her striking, she could be a fighter to watch at strawweight.

Mayra Bueno Silva: I understand why Mayra Bueno Silva released the armbar she had locked on in her matchup opposite Stephanie Egger. Bueno Silva said she felt the tap and so, wanting to avoid unnecessary damage to Egger’s arm, she released the technique. The problem was referee Chris Tognoni did not see the tap and Egger didn’t own up to tapping. With that, Bueno Silva put herself in a questionable position. Luckily, things worked out for her after Tognoni polled the judges and one judge said he saw the tap.

With the submission win, which came at the 1:17 mark of the first round, Bueno Silva is on a two-fight winning streak for the first time since she debuted with the promotion in 2018.

NSAC officials: Props to Chris Tognoni for making the best out of an awkward situation during the Stephanie Egger vs. Mayra Bueno Silva bout. With a pause in the action after Bueno Silva released an armbar after she said she felt a tap from Egger, Tognoni went to instant replay Herb Dean and then polled the judges to see if any witnessed the tap that Bueno Silva felt, but Tognoni did not see. It turned out that judge Ron McCarthy saw it and with that, Tognoni awarded the win to Bueno Silva via submission.

For those interested. Dean discussed polling with Bloody Elbow in 2017.

Losers:

Thiago Santos: Thiago Santos has shown a reluctance to engage his opponents since his 2019 loss to Jon Jones. That trait was still apparent on Saturday in his UFC Vegas 59 main event matchup opposite Jamahal Hill, but it was less pronounced than in previous fights.

Santos added takedowns to his game against Hill, going six for 19 in that department, but he did little with those takedowns.

The knockout loss to Hill likely marks the end of Santos’ run as a title contender and probably places him in the ranks of gatekeeper. At 38, Santos’ record is 1-5 in his past six fights.

That move might be best for the Brazilian, if it comes with stepping back to three round affairs. Santos has only fought in two scheduled three-rounder scraps since 2018.

Augusto Sakai: Despite being ranked at No. 14 in the official UFC heavyweight rankings ahead of UFC Vegas 59, Augusto Sakai was on a three-fight losing skid heading into Saturday night. Worse than that, Sakai had lost each of those bouts via knockout. Sakai’s losing skid reached four straight knockout losses with his one-sided setback to Sergey Spivak.

Sam Alvey: You can’t say the UFC did not give Sam Alvey every opportunity to end his winless streak. Alvey, who last had his hand raised in victory on June 1, 2018, was on a 0-7-1 run heading into UFC Vegas 59. Michal Oleksiejczuk knocked out Alvey at 1:56 of Round 1.

Miranda Granger: As UFC commentator Michael Bisping noted, Miranda Granger needs to work on her grappling. Holding onto the head of her opponent, Cory McKenna, set up the Von Flue choke that ended the fight.

Stephanie Egger: NSAC judge Ron McCarthy, who could be seen during the UFC Vegas 59 broadcast with the best seat in the house during the Stephanie Egger vs. Mayra Bueno Silva bout, informed referee Chris Tognoni that he, according to the broadcast, “clearly” saw Egger tap to Bueno Silva’s armbar. I get why Egger took a shot at trying to get one over on the officials, but the odds of that working in a state like Nevada or California were slim and so, Egger left the cage with a loss and a cloud hanging over her head.

UFC commentators: Brandon Fitzgerald and Michael Bisping glossed over why the UFC Vegas 59 card lost two fights. The information for both fight scratches was available, but the promotion and its announcers failed to inform viewers of those reasons. This is not a surprise since the UFC pays the commentators, but it is a disservice to the fans.

Anyway, here are the reasons via Bloody Elbow:

Jason Witt and Josh Quinlan - “UFC was notified by USADA that a recent urine sample from Josh Quinlan indicated the presence of a small amount of the M3 metabolite of dehydrochloromethyltestosterone (DHCMT). While not a violation under UFC anti-doping program rules, Nevada State Athletic Commission has ruled that Quinlan is not cleared to fight. As a result, his bout against Jason Witt has been canceled from tonight’s event.

Priscila Cachoeira vs Ariane Lipski - “This comes after Lipski badly missed weight on Friday, and the commission wouldn’t clear her to compete after she was hospitalized. “

ESPN/UFC production:

That’s not Leon Edwards.