UFC Vegas: Jamahal Hill finishes Thiago Santos to earn top 10 spot in light heavyweight division
Josh McNally

Jake Paul was supposed to be boxing Hasim Rahman Jr. at Madison Square Garden on August 6, and all the major promotions decided to get out of the way.

ESPN's surging MMA organization, the Professional Fighters League (PFL), did it the smartest, by preempting Paul vs. Rahman Jr. by holding an event on August 5 in the adjoining Hulu Theater. Paul stablemates Showtime Championship Boxing (SCB) and Bellator MMA took the weekend off. The UFC, on the other hand, took advantage of their rare second fiddle position and put together a card where everything felt like a contractual obligation.

Then Paul vs. Rahman Jr. was cancelled. PFL still put on a good show, SCB and Bellator hyped their upcoming shows on social media and the UFC were left with a show that absolutely nobody was interested in and an audience looking for something, anything to watch.

Among the lowlights were an appearance from Sam Alvey, arriving on eight fights in a row without a win – seven losses and a draw – and leaving extending that to nine; the finals of The Ultimate Fighter, an accolade that was once its own primetime TV event and now an afterthought for a show that literally only exists to produce content for ESPN+; and a welterweight bout between Vicente Luque and Geoff Neal that took place mainly to see if Neal was still committed to fighting after his DUI arrest at the end of 2021.

Jamahal Hill lands a jab on Thiago Santos. /Zuffa

Jamahal Hill lands a jab on Thiago Santos. /Zuffa

All this was capped by a light heavyweight main event between Thiago Santos and Jamahal Hill. Hill, to be fair, has earned his spot. Back-to-back Performances of the Night due to first round KO wins, the most recent of which was a slapstick highlight over Johnny Walker. It's the kind of result that promised future highlights – and this weekend one was needed.

Especially taking into account that his opponent is Thiago Santos.

Three fights scheduled for this weekend's event were cancelled and the UFC made no attempt to replace them. That meant the show started an hour later and was full of padding, a large chunk of which was dedicated to the life and times of Santos. The main focus was on his family life – he recently had a daughter with his wife, UFC bantamweight Yana Kunitskaya – but when it came to showing his fight highlights, they came from a long time ago.

Santos has 22 wins, 15 of which were by knockout and being able to put together eight of those in nine fights got him a championship bout with Jon Jones. He lost that bout by split decision and only afterwards was it revealed that he had torn ligaments in both knees.

Santos returned 16 months later and has lost three out of four. Even worse, those last three were deathly boring decisions. Even when he won, he shows he's lost his power, explosiveness and now seems afraid to get into a firefight.

That's how the first round played out. In the first five minutes, he only attempted 19 strikes of any kind and those were mostly jabs and flicking leg kicks. Hall even went up against him with a wide open southpaw stance that showed he wasn't expecting a war which, in and of itself, shows how far Santos has fallen.

Jamahal Hill finishes Thiago Santos with ground-and-pound attacks. /Zuffa

Jamahal Hill finishes Thiago Santos with ground-and-pound attacks. /Zuffa

In the second and third rounds, Santos looked to be adapting. He was hunting takedowns and managed to get six across both rounds. In the second, Hill got up as soon as he landed on the mat. In the third, he was too tired and Santos smothered him. Going from a dangerous slugger to a lay-and-pray fighter is one of the saddest declines in UFC history.

Then in the fourth, Hill must have felt the fight slipping away from him and immediately applied pressure. Santos couldn't plant his feet for either punches or takedowns and found himself pinned, back against the cage, and swinging wildly, hoping for a connection.

Instead, the younger, fester and healthier man tagged first and as soon as Santos was injured, chased him across the Octagon and down to the mat. Santos turtled up under the barrage of strikes and referee Herb Dean had no choice but to stop the fight. According to, in that final round, Hill landed 54 of 79 while Santos attempted only 98 in 17 minutes 30 seconds.

With this win, Jamahal Hit confirms his place in the light heavyweight top 10. With this loss, Santos confirms he's not the fighter he once was. Not even close.

(Header: Referee Herb Dean raises Jamahal Hill's hand in victory following his TKO win over Thiago Santos in the fourth round of their light heavyweight main event at UFC Vegas: Santos vs. Hill at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S., August 7, 2022. /Zuffa)

Search Trends