Dynamic Brazilian strikers will face off in the main event of UFC Vegas 38 when Thiago Santos takes on Johnny Walker. Here we discuss the odds and analysis from a betting perspective.
- When: Saturday October 2nd, 2021 at 7:00pm PT (ESPN+)
- Where: UFC Apex, Las Vegas, Nevada
- Line: Thiago Santos (-162) and Johnny Walker (+132); Will the fight go the distance? Yes (+245) or No (-360); Fight to start round 2 Yes (-250) or No (+180); Fight to start round 3 Yes (-108) or No (-122); Fight to start round 4 Yes (+132) or No (-174); Fight to start round 5 Yes (+190) or No (-260); odds from FanDuel Sportsbook.
Thiago “Marreta” Santos has been fighting in the UFC since 2013 but will be trying for his first win since 2019 when he steps into the Octagon on Saturday night.
Santos averages 4.27 strikes (significant) landed per minute (SLpM) with 48 percent striking accuracy, with 2.33 strikes absorbed per minute (SApM) with 55 percent striking defense, 0.70 takedowns per 15 minutes with a 38 percent takedown accuracy, 66 percent takedown defense and 0.1 submissions per 15 minutes, according to UFC Stats.
Santos has lost three straight, including losses to Aleksandar Rakic (UD, 2021), Glover Teixeira (sub Rd3, 2020) and Jon Jones (SD, 2019) with his most recent wins coming over Jan Blachowicz (TKO Rd3, 2019), Jimi Manuwa (TKO Rd2, 2018) and Eryk Anders (retirement Rd5, 2018).
Johnny Walker will attempt to regain the momentum and promise he displayed when he burst onto the scene from Dana White’s Contender Series with flamboyant style, dance moves and a string of first round knockouts.
Walker is eight years younger and sports a four inch height advantage and six inch reach advantage over Santos, averaging 4.41 SLpM with 72 percent striking accuracy and 3.51 SApM with 31 percent striking defense, 0.40 takedowns per 15 minutes with a 100 percent takedown accuracy, 60 percent takedown defense and 1.2 submissions per 15 minutes.
Walker got back in the win column in his last contest against Ryan Spann (TKO Rd1, 2020) after losing to Nikita Krylov (UD, 2020) and Corey Anderson (TKO Rd1, 2019). His UFC career started with three consecutive finishes against Misha Cirkunov (TKO Rd1, 2019), Justin Ledet (TKO Rd1, 2018) and Khalil Rountree (TKO Rd1, 2018).
Thiago Santos vs. Johnny Walker Narratives
Many bettors swear by fading Dana White’s Contender Series alumni, an approach that would have cashed three tickets at UFC 266 with Uroc Medic (-115), Cody Brundage (+132) and Omar Morales (-147) all having lost with both favorites getting finished.
Seems like you can just blindly fade anyone from Contender Series
— Notorious_Picks (@Notorious_Picks) April 10, 2021
Fade contender series fighter debuts remains a nice trend #UFC236
— Josh P (@JoshP_UFCpicks) April 14, 2019
Santos backers will point to his years of experience, significantly higher quality of opponents compared to Walker’s and expect Marreta to teach the Contender Series alum a vet lesson.
Walker will have youth, height and reach on his side and those taking a chance on the underdog might believe that these will all be advantages against a Santos who may be a bit more gun-shy and a bit less explosive at the age of 37.
Thiago Santos vs. Johnny Walker Prediction
Prior to his fight against Jon Jones, Thiago Santos was known for his heavy, powerful striking that could crack and TKO opponents like a sledgehammer, as he did to Jan Blachowicz and Anthony Smith. Santos striking was in fact so violent that he tore the ACL, MCL, PCL and meniscus of his left knee in his fight with Jon Jones, while also enduring a partial ligament tear in his right knee.
Footwork and a fighter’s base, including the lower body, are the source of generating striking power and one might argue that Santos’ legs may not have been the same since his fight with Jones, making it more difficult to generate the violent power he once possessed.
While Santos still has the power that wobbled a forty-year old Teixeira, he was not able to hurt a younger, more dynamic Rakic despite out-striking him 49 to 36, and we are not confident that Santos will wield the output and power to justify being this heavy of a favorite in what we see as a very close fight.
Despite our concerns about Santos’ legs and power at his advanced combat age of 46, we want to try and avoid being effected by recency bias and see a cataclysmic difference in quality of wins and losses between Santos and Walker.
Ryan Spann was handling Johnny Walker before getting finished, but Spann proved to be another Contender’s Series alum to fade against a veteran like Anthony Smith, somewhat tarnishing Walker’s most recent win and making us lean toward fading the hyped Contender Series alum against the experienced veteran.
But we see this fight as too close to pick a side with confidence. We do feel confident that this fight plays out on the feet and with that expect a finish. While it is very likely that the fight finishes in the first two rounds, we are all but certain that it will not get to the fourth.
Pick: Fight to start round 4? No (-174)
Embed from Getty Images