Last Updated Feb 18, 2022, 9:17 PM


UFC Vegas 48 is the upcoming MMA event hosted by the Ultimate Fighting Championship, in their Las Vegas Apex Facility. The event is scheduled for February 19, 2022 with a headlining fight between knockout artists Johnny Walker (18-6) and Jamahal Hill (9-1).

The event consists of 12 bouts when tallied, and features appearances by savvy veteran Jim Miller and potent finisher Abdul Razzak Alhassa


Johnny Walker was once touted as the prospect to dethrone Jon Jones at light heavyweight. Today he is a guy in such dire need of a win that if he doesn’t get a winning streak going on Saturday I doubt the UFC will offer him another contract after his current one runs out. What the hell happened?

Even after Walker went 3-0 in the UFC with three first-round finishes, some fans had their doubts. Specifically fans were pointing to his three losses from before the UFC, in all of which he was finished. His brutal KO loss at the hands of Henrique Silva Lopez on the regional scene personally made me question whether Walker was truly ready for the big leagues. After all, he had never gone past round one in the UFC leading up to his Corey Anderson fight.

After being completely blown out of the water via knockout to a wrestler, Corey Anderson, with zero knockouts in four years, the jig was up for Johnny. The guy has no striking defense. 

Walker is an absolute wrecking ball when he is in the zone, but once you get past that first round he does not have any composure. There’s just nothing there in the later rounds. The guy is 3-4 in fights that have gone past the first round. In the UFC Johnny has never won a fight that has gone beyond five minutes. This is a huge red flag.
Johnny Walker has lost three of his last four fights. (UFC)

His finishing ability is also very unorthodox and wild to a point where I wonder whether or not that touted 3-0 win streak came with a little bit of luck. He is so big that if he throws all of his limbs toward his opponent something is bound to connect, at least in the lower ranks of the UFC. At this level that just doesn’t work.

Walker recently made a major career change and now trains under John Kavanagh at SBG Ireland. On paper that might be a good pairing, but his last fight showed that every ounce of killer instinct Walker had previously had was gone. He went to a decision and lost an uneventful five-rounder against Thiago Santos, a 38-year old veteran with two blown out knees on a three-fight losing streak.

Walker just lacks a fundamental game. When the big flashy strikes don’t land, where is the jab? Where is the one-two combination? Where is the leg kick? They are not there. However they are for Jamahal Hill, his opponent on Saturday.


FighterJohnny WalkerJamahal Hill
Record18-6-09-1-0 (1 NC)
Average Fight Time7:506:17
Height6' 6"6' 4"
Weight (lbs)205205
Reach (in)8079
Strikes Landed per Min.3.427.45
Striking Accuracy59%51%
Strikes Absorbed per Min.2.813.68
Striking Defense40%45%
Striking Differential0.613.77

Hill picked up hype starting his UFC run just as Walker did, but once he ran into that reality check against Paul Craig he was able to come back and show everyone that he is for real. He is taking this seriously and he is making adjustments. His striking is precise and lethal, but he doesn’t throw and hope like Walker, instead he aims and fires. 

It’s difficult to articulate the difference between these two fighters. I guess they are both finishers. However Walker has not produced a ‘real’ highlight-worthy finish in quite some time. His most recent finish was against Ryan Spann in a fight where he was on skates for the majority of its duration until he managed to land some elbows behind the head of his opponent and score a win. 

Hill is a striker. Walker is more of an acrobat with an MMA background. The fundamentals are lacking for Johnny.

Best Bet: Hill ML (-300)


  • Date: Saturday, February 19, 2022
  • Venue: UFC Apex
  • Location: Las Vegas, Nevada
  • Network: ESPN+
  • Prelims Time: 4:00 p.m. ET
  • Main Card Time: 7:00 p.m. ET


In the co-main event Kyle Daukaus, youngest of the Daukaus brothers, takes on short-notice opponent Jamie Pickett in a catchweight bout. Daukaus’ initial opponent, Julian Marquez, was pulled from the bout and now Pickett steps in on 12 days’ notice.

Kyle has gotten his hand raised in just one of four octagon appearances. In all fairness, his most recent fight was a no-contest after a clash of heads rendered his opponent partially unconscious. That said, the fact of the matter is that Daukaus has been struggling under the UFC mantle. 

Even after three appearances on DWCS Jamie Pickett did not give up on his UFC goals. He finally got the call in 2020 and despite losing his first two he has won two straight heading into UFC Vegas 48. He is 2-2 in the UFC.

Pickett taking this fight on short-notice tells me he is hungry to get in there and compete. Daukaus is mainly a grappler, but looking through his past performances averaging under two takedowns per 15 minutes is not that great considering the submission is his main path to victory. His sole UFC win is a decision so he has not managed to get that finish yet.

Pickett himself averages 1.68 takedowns every 15 minutes on average, so on paper these two certainly aren’t worlds apart in the wrestling department. Perhaps that puts Daukaus’ wrestling ability into perspective, a guy with 80% of his wins coming by way of submission and zero career knockouts as a pro. 
Jamie Pickett has won eight of his last 11 fights after winning the fight prior. (UFC)

Once the fight hits the ground obviously Daukaus will have the advantage of jiu-jitsu, however if the fight does not end up there, or if Pickett manages to get back up Daukaus is at a disadvantage. 

As with Walker in the main event, with Daukaus we are looking at a fighter not used to going the distance. Both times he has gone the full 15 in the UFC he has come up short. Career-wide he is 2-2 in decision bouts. Pickett is 4-3, 2-1 if we narrow the scope to the UFC only. That is significant. 

I know the composure-critique held up more for Walker, and I might be forcing it a bit by applying it to Daukaus, but the numbers are the numbers. Daukaus is first and foremost a grappler - striking is not what he wants to be doing at all. Especially not against a guy like Pickett with good power (eight knockouts in 13 wins). 

Guys have been taking Pickett down throughout most of his career bouts, he is used to that, and he often pops right back up like a coil spring.

I think Pickett can land enough to make him live on the feet. The narrative seems to be affecting this betting line a little bit too, possibly on top of the short-notice for Pickett. Regardless, Pickett is 2-2 in the UFC, Daukaus is 1-2 (1 NC) - the latter should not be the favorite. Let’s go against the narrative.

Best Bet: Pickett ML (+200)


Alan Baudot has good striking when you watch him performan, but when he gets into the later rounds he just falls apart. 

In his most recent time out, against Rodrigo Nascimento, he was stylin’ on his opponent throughout the entire duration of the first round and even came close to getting a finish at one point. However the tides completely turned in round two and he was finished himself. 

The problem with guys like Baudot is composure. He has a great overhand right but as with anything when something becomes predictable it's easy to defend against. The overhand right always works for him in the early going but once opponents start to put the pressure on him and force him to retreat they realize that he just puts his head down and spams it instinctively. 

Porter is a big guy with a good clinching game. Rewatching that last outing for Baudot is pretty much how I envision this fight going. Nascimento fought just like I expect Porter to. He took the big shorts early on and kept walking him down. It's not that he was looking for takedowns, the clinch was seemingly enough to tire Baudot, and by the second he is giving up the center of the octagon and ends up finished just moments later.

When you watch tape on Baudot his striking seems far more fluid compared to someone like Porter, but this is not a striking battle - there are far more nuances to an MMA fight. The problem is that if Baudot can’t put the nail in the coffin when he has a guy hurt then you can’t really trust him with a bet, even as an underdog, knowing he will eventually fade when the going gets tough later on.

For that reason alone, Porter is the play here. He is far more experienced and has a more mature MMA game.

Best Bet: Porter ML (-250)


Jim Miller holds 37 UFC appearances to Motta’s zero. That strength of schedule discrepancy is enough to make me side with the savvy veteran that is Jim Miller.

Motta is a DWCS graduate with good striking. When I saw this matchup announced I immediately started researching Motta’s grappling background. I was surprised to learn he has none. 

Zero submission wins for Motta and eight via knockout means he is a striker. However in his DWCS showing he was outstruck by Joe Lowry over the course of three rounds. He won the fight on all judges’ cards, however getting outstruck on DWCS in your preferred area is not really that great.

Miller has evolved into a ‘sub-or-bust fighter at this stage in his career, but that’s okay because I don’t think this fight will go far beyond Miller’s first takedown. Motta is far younger than Miller and that’s a big plus for him, but that experience discrepancy is far more significant than the age difference. Also, Motta has already racked up some losses on the regional scene - all by way of finish.

This is a good opportunity to jump on Jim Miller for some value. The market is seemingly writing him off, but given his octagon wins outnumber total pro fights for Motta, I’d say there’s a real chance Miller pulls this off with his veteran experience.

Motta had Lowry on the verge of consciousness in every round but he could not apply the finishing touch. He is still a work in progress to me and he needs to show me that he can carry that finishing ability with him to the big scene. Miller is not someone any debutant with a few knockouts can finish. In 16 losses he has only been knocked out twice.

Best Bet: Miller ML (+150)


Joaquin Buckley and Abdul Razak Alhassan kick off the UFC Vegas 48 main card. Buckley became the big thing of 2020 after producing a highlight-reel spinning back kick finish over fellow hyped prospect Impa Kasanganay at UFC Fight Island. He would go on to win his next bout right after that, however since then he has differentiated between wins and losses from fight to fight.

Impressively, Buckley has won the performance-of-the-night bonus for all of his wins in the octagon meanwhile in all of his losses his opponents have done so too. Either he gets the finish or he gets finished. If we are talking about finishes we can’t skip over Alhassan. The hard-hitting welterweight, ‘Judo Thunder’, only has wins via knockout. What’s even crazier is the fact that all of his knockouts have come in round one. Razzak has the touch of death.
Abdul Razak Alhassan has seen five of his last seven fights end in Round 1. (UFC)

There is a downside to that power however, and we often see hard-hitting guys falling short on the scorecards. This is also the case for Razak who, get this, has never gone past round one and won a fight. 

The fact that such a trend exists in a professional fighters record is pretty insane. Statistically, if you want to beat Abdul you just have to survive the first round. From then on out it should be in the bag. Of course trends can only tell us so much about a fighter, but watching tape confirms the notion that Abdul has poor cardio. 

So the question is: Can Buckley survive round one? After all, three of Buckley’s four losses have come by way of knockout, so he can be prone to taking an ‘L’ to strikes. The thing is, just about 20% of all welterweight fights end via knockout in round one, so if you’re siding with Alhassan what chance of victory do you give him? The guy has a 5-4 UFC record so he wins 55% of the time he steps foot in the octagon.

Buckley has great pressure, and I think that will be the deciding factor in this fight. Alhassan does not fight well off his back foot and prefers to be the one pressuring. All of his knockout finishes have come with his opponents having their backs pressed up against the fence. Meanwhile both of Buckley’s UFC losses have been him pressuring and getting caught.

As long as Buckley doesn’t give up the center he should be able to get this done, or should I say, survive the first round and start doing some damage. There’s also an age discrepancy I haven’t touched on, but since that trend in Abdul’s record is the x-factor that’s what I’m weighing as the most significant factor in this fight. In today’s MMA you cannot be ‘first-round knockout-or-bust’. I’ll always fade that fighter.

Best Bet: Buckley ML (-150)


In the featured preliminary bout of UFC Vegas 48 Joanathan Pearce welcomes UFC newcomer Christian Rodriguez to the octagon.

Pearce is a good fighter with an overall well-rounded skill set. He has a strong striking game but can also switch it up and implement some grappling. In his most recent bout he went all out and wrestled striking wiz Omar Morales. His efforts amounted to six takedowns on 11 attempts and a second-round submission win. That’s big. I always enjoy fighters that are able to utilize a large toolbox to take on different opponents in various ways. Every challenge should constitute an individual game plan. Pearce has the ability to do that. He faces debutant Christian Rodriguez. 

Rodriguez is a well-rounded guy too with three submission wins and three knockouts. When he competed on DWCS he knocked it out of the park, scoring a unanimous decision win over Reyes Cortez Jr., something the 24-year-old had not done up until that point. He has to get used to going the distance now that he’s in the UFC, and his DWCS outing showed that he is.

Rodriguez warded off eight takedowns in his DWCS outing and showed great defensive wrestling. The betting line tells us Pearce should win this fight almost 80% of the time. But then going through his record, how can I find a first-round knockout loss to Joe Lauzon who had not won a fight in three years and was on a three-fight losing streak?

When we are dealing with favorites in the -350 region, there cannot be any margin for error. If Lauzon can demolish Pearce, what does that say about his consistency? Pearce also absorbs quite a bit of damage when he fights, and I don’t like that going against a sharp shooter like Rodriguez can be. 

The Pearce side is solid, but there are chinks in the armor when you snoop around his stats and career losses. Things like his 46% striking defense and his average of eating over five punches every minute makes me side with the unbeaten prospect. Strictly speaking on value, the play is Rodriguez for me.

Best Bet: Rodriguez ML (+250)

Odds & Bouts Subject to Change - per BetMGM

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