UFC Fight Night 201: Johnny Walker vs. Jamahal Hill staff prediction, odds, preview 1

Tonight’s UFC main event is an exciting matchup between light heavyweight fighters Johnny Walker and Jamahal Hill.

Previously, the scheduled main event was a bout between Rafael dos Anjos and Rafel Fiziev, but Fiziev’s visa issues led to the fight being postponed to UFC 272 on March 5. Now, Walker vs. Hill is the UFC Fight Night 201 main event on the fight card that features 12 fights.

See below for the latest Johnny Walker vs. Jamahal Hill betting odds and our full staff predictions before the UFC Fight Night 201 main event.

Walker vs. Hill odds

  • Walker: +185
  • Hill: -225

Walker vs. Hill staff predictions

Braeden Arbour

Johnny Walker vs. Jamahal Hill is a great matchup of two young fighters with great potential. Johnny Walker, introduced to UFC fans through his creative and risky fight style, paid off by producing some of the best knockouts, catapulting him into the mainstream consciousness. However, in recent years it seems the focus is on sharpening his style in order to pronounce his power and physicality at the correct moments, filling the gaps at which he began being punished for his creativity by the highest level. Now he is far more patient; he will still burst forward, but the initial strike thrown is more calculated, usually behind a counter or a big feint. At the same time, his strikes do still come in barrages, on a straight line, which is a dangerous tactic against Hill, who utilizes angles so well. In particular, Hill looks to angle off and land wide hooks, long straights as well as kicks, especially his left body kick off of his right side step. When his opponent feels they have a gauge on his distance, he cuts shorter angles and often catches them with short hooks instead to stay unpredictable.

However, in doing so, Hill can sometimes be caught in a bit of a wide stance, and has paid for it via low kicks in the past. Under SBG now, I believe that this is an opening that Walker’s team will look to exploit. In terms of grappling, what’s most interesting is the mental challenge for Hill. We have not seen him engage since having his arm broken by Paul Craig in 2021, as he knocked out the following opponent Jimmy Crute relatively quickly in his return. Hill has good solid grappling, although he is yet to earn a submission victory in his career. The danger against Walker is that while Walker is not the most polished grappler himself, his ability to translate his power from standing into his ground and pound via vicious elbows and punches can change the tide of a fight in a blink of an eye and on top of that his explosiveness translates to his ability to sprawl and reverse non-confident shots. On the ground, Hill’s confidence in his submission defense and takedowns will be tested should he be the one to choose to go there. Still, on the other side, Walker has also felt his fair share of being stuck underneath his opponent unable to capitalize on his big moments by staying controlled. I doubt Walker will be the one shooting, but if Hill looks to change levels, we could see Walker look to reverse and work from top position.

That being said, while we don’t know Hill’s mindset in terms of returning to the ground, we also don’t know Walker’s mindset coming in on yet another loss. He has one victory in his last four, and evidently in his most recent fight that seems to have led to a bit of hesitation on his part as he tries to balance adapting to a more professional approach and patient approach with his innate creativity and wildness. If he has managed to figure this out, we may see the best version of him, but an uncertain Walker may fall prey to a very skilled Hill who knows how to move around him and land the crisp shots more often.

Prediction: Jamahal Hill to win

Michael Pounders

Walker, once a highly-touted prospect with an exciting style, has dropped three of his last four fights. He is a stand-up brawler with a fan-friendly style full of athletic kicks, powerful punches, and a typical willingness to stand and swing. Walker will often unload heavy power punches for all of round one, looking to catch his opponent quickly. He has several first-round knockout wins, and all of his UFC wins have come this way too. Walker stays at range, uses his long legs to keep the range, and land heavy from a distance. Then, once his opponent crashes the range, Walker will look to counter with a highlight reel strike that often ends with a highlight-reel knockout. However, if his opponent can successfully crash the distance or trade successfully at range, Walker has struggled. He has nearly no ground game, but, because of his height, is difficult to get down to the ground. In the pocket, where his long strikes are neutralized, Walker has struggled to cut an angle and recreate the range attack he prefers. Lastly, the Brazilian, in a division with some heavy hitters, Walker’s chin has proved questionable. A blueprint has been laid – survive round one, crowd the massive striker in round two, and force Walker to fight in tight.

Hill, much like Walker, has impressive power and solid size. The southpaw is comfortable standing at range where he can intelligently and precisely pick his shots, which he often throws right down the middle. While he is patient with his approach, Hill has effective volume when he does throw. This is because he often strikes in combination, quickly and violently. Once he lands cleanly, Hill continues to push forward and land until his opponent drops. Hill is the type of fighter where, when he lands on the chin, the shot doesn’t look like much, but it truly stuns his opponent. This is because Hill has natural strength and great technique. With no wasted movement, Hill strikes right up the middle as soon as the opening is presented. The biggest question in Hill’s game is his chin. He can sometimes carry it high in the air and it has been clipped before. His only knockout was because of a dislocated elbow, so, his chin has held up; but, a high chin is a dangerous proposition. Until he is dropped, though, I like Hill to be the one to find the chin.

I feel Walker has around three minutes to win this fight. Once the fight enters the second half of round 1, the fight should be all Hill. Hill’s straight shots down the pipe, intelligent patience, volume, and ability to match Walker’s size and power should be enough to overtake the fight after the first few minutes. Walker won early in his career on the back of athleticism. Against an opponent with the technique and power of Hill, that athleticism should be nullified. Hill clips and drops Walker early in the fight.

Prediction: Hill via Round 1 or 2 KO/TKO

Joe Pounders

On the feet, Walker does a good job utilizing his impressive length to land a variety of long-range attacks. Whether it be a lead head kick, spinning wheel kick, or flying knee, Walker has an arsenal of attacks that have serious power intent behind it. The issue, and the reason why he has lost three of his last four fights, is due to his passivity on the feet which is rooted in cardio issues and having a less than superb chin – 3 of his 6 professional losses have come via KO. For this particular fight, Walker will need to show greater trust in his defensive ability, particularly with him knowing he will need to combat the power threat of his opponent by maintaining a safe distance. If he does so over the 5-round affair, Walker possesses the greater arsenal of attacks that should secure him the victory.

For having five UFC fights, Hill is a difficult fighter to evaluate. This difficulty is inherently due to what makes Hill the talent he is – he truly understands how to finish a fight quickly. Over his last 4 fights, none reached the 3rd round, and 3 of the 4 were finished by Hill via TKO/KO. The way in which Hill finished these fights, and several others, is via an impressive straight down-the-barrel method of striking. Although the traditional 1-2 combination may be viewed as overly simplistic, the ability to master said combination is both difficult to do, and once done, is a thing of beauty to watch. Up until this point, it can be said that Hill has indeed mastered this, but, for him, the issue in this bout will be landing with the effectiveness he has done so against a fighter that out-lengths him for this first time in his UFC career. So, the question, for Hill, will be if he can have the same success he has had of late against a taller opponent. If he has trouble landing his 1-2 combination, it is a complete unknown if Hill has an alternative game plan that is effective within the octagon.

Given this fight has gone from a co-main to a 5-round main event position, I would be shocked if this fight reaches the judges’ scorecards. The only way I foresee a decision victory is due to the bleak cardio prowess of each fighter leading to a slow-style affair. If this mild concern comes to fruition, Walker’s style will likely net him the victory given he has the larger arsenal of striking attacks when compared to Hill. However, given I expect the fight to end via finish, Hill is the likely victor. His aggressiveness parlayed with strikes thrown with tenacious intent should afford him the ability to combat the long-range attack of Walker. If done, Hill will get in on Walker, and once there, he has the historical track record of finishing the fight. For this reason, Hill by early KO is the play.

Bet: Hill round 1-2 KO

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

One Comment