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Johnny Walker vs. Jamahal Hill UFC Odds, Pick & Prediction: What Round Will Main Event End? (Saturday, February 19)

Johnny Walker vs. Jamahal Hill UFC Odds, Pick & Prediction: What Round Will Main Event End? (Saturday, February 19) article feature image
Credit:

Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC. Pictured: Jamahal Hill.

  • Johnny Walker and Jamahal Hill headline Saturday's UFC Fight Night card.
  • The Light Heavyweights are the featured main event and will take place in a five-round bout with Hill a considerable favorite.
  • Sean Zerillo breaks down the main event and how he's betting the fight, below.

Johnny Walker vs. Jamahal Hill Odds

Walker Odds
+200
Hill Odds
-240
Over/Under
1.5 (-145 / +115)
Venue
UFC APEX
Time
Approx. 9 p.m. ET
Channel
ESPN+
Odds as of Friday and via DraftKings.

On Saturday, the UFC returns to the APEX in Las Vegas with a 12-fight card, featuring a Light Heavyweight showdown between No. 10-ranked contender Johnny Walker and No. 12 Jamahal Hill.

This bout was initially slated for three rounds as the Co-Main Event but is now a five-round fight and will mark the second consecutive Main Event appearance for Walker, following his loss to Thiago Santos last October.

Although this is the first time that Hill has headlined a UFC card, “Sweet Dreams” does have five-round experience with a 25-minute decision over former UFC fighter Dequan Townsend on the Michigan regional scene in 2018.

Below, I’ll preview this Main Event in-depth and provide my thoughts on where you can find actionable value.

Tale of the Tape

Walker Hill
Record 18-6 9-1 (1 NC)
Avg. Fight Time 7:50 6:17
Height 6’6″ 6’4″
Weight (pounds) 205 lbs. 205 lbs.
Reach (inches) 82″ 79″
Stance Orthodox Southpaw
Date of birth 3/30/92 5/19/91
Sig Strikes Per Min 3.42 7.45
SS Accuracy 59% 51%
SS Absorbed Per Min 2.81 3.68
SS Defense 40% 45%
Take Down Avg 0.24 0.0
TD Acc 100% 0%
TD Def 62% 60%
Submission Avg 0.7 0.0

Walker typically owns the size advantage against his opponents, and that will be no different on Saturday, as he’ll be a couple of inches taller, with a three-inch reach advantage against Hill.

Conversely, aside from his matchup with Ovince Saint Preux (80″ reach), Hill has had the reach advantage throughout his UFC run, so Walker’s size presents a new challenge to navigate.

While Walker typically doesn’t make the most out of his reach, he showed some new wrinkles in the Santos fight — after moving his camp to SBG Ireland — fighting in a far more composed manner while maximizing his 6″ reach advantage by staying on the outside.

It was jarring to watch that unfold because Walker smashed his way into the Light Heavyweight rankings by deploying a reckless, high-variance style, with wanton disregard for his safety. Walker’s highlight reel earned him the Main Event shine, but he looked like a different fighter once he reached the biggest stage of his career:

Although he took two rounds (Rounds 1 and 4) off of Santos, “Marretta” appeared fully in control of those proceedings, and I’m not sure what Walker’s upside is as an outside point fighter (landed 41% of his significant strike attempts, compared to 59% in his UFC career) moving forward.

The significant improvements against Santos came on the defensive end (64% strike defense, compared to 40% in his UFC career), where Walker could utilize his speed and movement and avoid getting caught.

Despite his impressive physique, Walker’s durability is a significant concern. He’s been hurt consistently throughout his career, even in his wins.

And his knockout loss from 2016 consistently makes waves on the internet, since he seemingly went out five times in 20 seconds:

That said, Walker’s offense is equally devastating, possessing a knockdown rate on par with the biggest hitters in the sport. And with his long limbs, he can catch opponents from strange angles, like his devastating elbow against Ryan Spann:

Walker may have every intention of changing his approach, but I know that that high variance warrior is still in there, and Jamahal Hill is precisely the type of opponent to bring that out of him.

While Walker outstruck Santos (48-44) throughout five rounds,  Hill (7.45 strikes landed per minute; 51% accuracy) pushes a much faster pace, and he’s a natural Light Heavyweight who hits harder than Santos, a former Middleweight.

Hill isn’t short on confidence. He’s happy to engage with opponents, so I suspect that he will look to close the distance, get inside the pocket and let his hands go. Someone who continued to fight through a broken arm against Paul Craig isn’t afraid to get caught in an extensive striking exchange.

Walker prefers when opponents come at him, rather than the other way around, because it leaves him with the element of surprise, where he can fire spinning or flying attacks and attempt to create wild exchanges.

Hill is the more technical striker, but we haven’t seen him absorb a big shot against this caliber of competition, so his level of durability remains a question mark, and he looks uncomfortable when opponents start to chop at his lead leg.

I don’t anticipate much, if any, grappling taking place in this fight, but I would have to give the slight nod to Walker (a brown belt) over Hill (a blue belt) in a jiu-jitsu battle.

As a result, I can see the arguments for Walker as the value side in this fight. He’s the superior grappler, hits harder, and Hill has some question marks related to his durability (both to his head and legs) and the reach discrepancy.

That said, I would only take a shot on Walker if I knew that he was willing to revert to his old style and create a high variance outcome. However, if he resorts to those tactics, Walker probably doesn’t have more than 10 minutes of stamina in his gas tank, so by the time you see him fighting in that manner, it would be too late to enter a live play.

And while I expect Walker to continue to stay on the outside after switching camps, I also expect Hill to cut off the cage and bring the fight to him, where Walker could be at a significant disadvantage in the pocket.

The Walker-Santos fight closed at -850 (89.5% implied) at FanDuel to end inside the distance, and Saturday’s matchup appears equally violent to the naked eye.

Perhaps some bettors are tepid to play the Under since Walker’s most recent matchup went the distance. However, the inside-the-distance prop for Saturday’s fight is lined as low as -400 (80% implied), which could look like a bargain in hindsight.

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Walker vs. Hill Pick

In this fight, I projected Jamahal Hill at a 70.9% favorite (-244 implied odds), so I don’t see actionable value on either side of the moneyline. However, I would begin to consider a play on Hill at -216 (68.4% implied) or better, at a 2.5% edge relative to my projection.

I projected this fight to end inside the distance 82% of the time (-458 implied), and I see actionable value regarding the total.

Rather than playing Under 1.5 rounds at plus money, I opted for Under 2.5 Rounds at -160 (at DraftKings) since the vast majority of finishes come in the first half of all fights. If this pace is slow enough to avoid an early finish, I will suspect that this fight is headed for the scorecards.

It’s also worth noting that Hill and Walker only have three finishes after the first round between them.

I don’t see value regarding any winning method props, but Hill to win Inside the Distance (projected -152, listed -150) seems like a fair price to pay for that outcome.

That said, I’ll stick with my under bet and hope that Walker’s last fight was the outlier.

The Pick: Under 2.5 Rounds (-160 at DraftKings)

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