UFC returns to UFC Apex for Vegas 59, doubling as the season-finale for the Ultimate Fighter 30, with a 12-bout card. ESPN and ESPN+ are televising the August 6 fights, headlined by Thiago Santos vs. Jahmahal Hill. The preliminaries begin at 7 p.m. (ET) and the main card at 10 p.m. (ET)
Read more about UFC Fight Night.
Light Heavyweight: Jahmahal Hill Vs. Thiago Santos
This main event bout features former light heavyweight title contender Thiago Santos against up-and-comer Jahmahal Hill. Santos (22-10) battled Jon Jones for the crown in 2019, losing in a split decision. However, Santos has not been able to right the ship after that hard-fought fight and has lost three of four, with the latest setback coming against Magomed Ankolov on March 22 in a unanimous decision.
Meanwhile, Hill enters the cage riding a two-fight winning streak and having won 10 of 11 contests in his career. He is 4-1 (1 NC) since joining the UFC and made quick work of Jimmy Cute (48 seconds) and Johnny Walker (2:55) in his last two outings, recording knockouts in the opening round of each bout.
Hill is the younger, taller, longer, and hungrier fighter. Sweet Dreams is also more aggressive as the 31-year-old likes to strike fast and furious though Santos has the advantage in defense and grappling. I wouldn’t be surprised if this five-rounder goes the distance.
Best Bet: Hill (-295)
Other Option: Over 2.5 Rounds (+135)
Heavyweight: Mohammed Usman vs. Zac Pauga
This 3-round heavyweight bout is also The Ultimate Fighter 30 finale, with the winner earning a UFC contract. Usman, the younger brother of UFC welterweight champion Kamaura Usman, has won five of six fights and brings an 8-2 record into the bout. Meanwhile, Pauga is undefeated in six outings.
Usman and Pauga know each other well as they were members of Team Pena during TUF’s regular season. Usman has an experience and size advantage over Paugu. However, the former Colorado State running back is quick and possesses a lot of natural athleticism.
While Usman will likely try to throw his weight around and packs a lot of power with his punches, I like Pauga to pick up the victory. Pauga should be able to use his quickness to strike and wear out Usman, who lacks stamina and is not overly skilled.
Best Bet: Pauga (-250)
Heavyweight: Serghei Spivak vs. Augusto Sakai
This main card draw features two experienced heavyweight fighters that are pretty much in limbo as neither are elite. Spivak (14-3) has won just five of eight matches since moving to the UFC, and he didn’t look great in his second-round victory over Greg Hardy the last time out. Meanwhile, Sakai (15-4-1) is ranked No. 14 in the division and enters the cage on a three-fight skid though this is his first match in 2022.
I like Spivak in this one as he is in better form, is a better grappler, and possesses better defense mechanisms. But there is no guarantee that Spivak will be able to take Sakai to the mat as he has been extremely good at thwarting those attempts. Sakai has yet to submit as a pro fighter.
As a result, I believe the odds that list Spivak as a -235 favorite are incredibly skewed. However, I like this bout to end with a finish, as the average fight between the two combatants lasts less than 11 minutes. Only three of Spivak’s contests have gone the distance, while five of Sakai’s matches haven’t ended early.
Best Bet: Under 2.5 Rounds (-185).
Middleweight: Sam Alvey vs. Michal Oliekjusczuk
Oliekjusczuk (16-5-1) is a massive favorite as he faces Sam Alvey (33-17-3), who is on an eight-bout losing streak and on his way out of the UFC. The Poland national is coming off a hard-fought unanimous setback to Dustin Jacoby in his return to this weight class after fighting as a light heavyweight for the past several matches.
I expect Hussar to end this one with a finish as he packs a big punch in his 6-foot, 205-pound frame. Twelve of Oliekjusczuk’s victories have ended this way, with 11 coming via knockout. All totaled, just under 80% of his fights have finished before the final bell.
Best Bet: Olikjusczuk by any knockout, submission, or DQ (-125)
Lightweight: Terrence McKinney vs. Erick Gonzalez
McKinney is the biggest favorite of the draw as he faces another newcomer to the UFC. McKinney (12-4, 2-1 UFC) was very entertaining in his first two UFC fights as he showed off his enormous skills, standing upright and on the ground. However, T-Wrecks ran into a buzz saw in Drew Dober and got knocked out a little more than halfway through Round 1.
Gonzalez (14-6) is a skilled fighter who has not found much consistency in recent years. Gonzalez has not fought since getting knocked out by Jim Miller in his UFC debut nearly nine months ago. All of T-Wreck’s professional fights have ended with a finish, with 14 of them ending before the end of round one.
Best Bet: Under 1.5 Rounds (-255)
Parlay Bet for UFC Vegas 59
Bet 1: Olikjusczuk by any knockout, submission, or DQ (-125)
Bet 2: McKinney (-400) by any knockout, submission, or DQ
Bet 3: Bryan Battle (-265) Over Takaisho Soto
Parlay Bet: 3-legged Parlay (+203)