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UFC on ESPN 40 Odds, Pick & Prediction for Thiago Santos vs. Jamahal Hill: Where to Find Value with Lopsided Odds (Saturday, August 6)

UFC on ESPN 40 Odds, Pick & Prediction for Thiago Santos vs. Jamahal Hill: Where to Find Value with Lopsided Odds (Saturday, August 6) article feature image
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Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC. Pictured: UFC light heavyweights Thiago Santos and Jamahal Hill

Thiago Santos vs. Jamahal Hill Odds

Santos Odds
+265
Hill Odds
-340
Over/Under
1.5 (-140/ +120)
Venue
UFC Apex (Las Vegas)
Time
Approx. midnight ET
Channel
ESPN and ESPN+
Odds as of Friday and via WynnBET.

A future light heavyweight title challenger could emerge from Saturday’s UFC on ESPN 30 main event between No. 6-ranked contender Thiago Santos and No. 10 Jamahal Hill.

Santos, who lost via split decision to then-champ Jon Jones for UFC gold in 2019, has dropped four of his past five fights and looks well past his prime at age 38.

Conversely, the 31-year-old Hill has won six of his seven UFC bouts (one overturned to a no-contest for marijuana use), including a trio of first-round finishes.

Can Hill continue his ascension toward the top of the 205-pound division and get within a win of a title shot? Or will the veteran Santos play spoiler and derail the American’s hype train?

Below, I’ll provide my analysis and projections for Saturday’s ESPN-televised matchup and utilize those factors to bet on the main event.

Tale of the Tape

Santos Hill
Record 22-10 10-1
Avg. Fight Time 9:37 5:48
Height 6’2″ 6’4″
Weight (pounds) 205 lbs. 205 lbs.
Reach (inches) 76″ 79″
Stance Orthodox Southpaw
Date of birth 1/7/1984 5/19/1991
Sig Strikes Per Min 3.77 7.06
SS Accuracy 47% 51%
SS Absorbed Per Min 2.37 3.71
SS Defense 55% 45%
Take Down Avg 0.54 0.00
TD Acc 36% 0%
TD Def 65% 60%
Submission Avg 0.1 0.0

Santos has clear advantages in MMA experience (21 more fights than Hill) and strength of schedule. He’s the best striker Hill has ever faced – and easily his toughest striking test at the UFC level.

While Santos has more main event experience (six of his past eight fights, including a trip of 25-minute decisions), Hill likely has superior cardio. The American racked up 236 significant strike attempts over 15 minutes in his UFC debut and has a 25-minute win in his regional career too.

Moreover, Santos is a former middleweight while Hill is a natural light heavyweight and the bigger man (2 inches taller, three-inch reach advantage).

So, while Santos is undoubtedly a step up in competition, Hill is seven years younger (64% win rate, at average odds of -119, or 54.3%), taller, longer, and faster, with superior cardio and output.

Hill may be the best boxer in the 205-pound division, and I expect him to win any exchanges in the pocket. He should also land substantially more volume than his opponent.

Santos will look to keep kickboxing distance – which could be slightly more difficult in the small cage at the UFC Apex facility as opposed to the 30-foot octagon -–and look to land leg and body kicks. He could have difficulty overcoming that reach discrepancy, however. Any naked kicks will be answered with straight punches down the middle by Hill.  

The one area where Santos could exploit a weakness is the grappling. Neither man has excellent takedown defense, and Santos hasn’t landed a takedown since 2019. And of the two, Hill is the more adept scrambler, rarely spending significant time on his back.

Still, if Santos can get this fight to the mat, he is the more dangerous submission grappling threat, and he can catch Hill making an overconfident mistake – as he did in his only career loss, which came to Paul Craig.

Craig is an extremely dangerous grappler, but Santos has just one career submission on his record. Still, HIll’s confidence – and his demeanor toward walking through opponents – has proven to be a detriment in the past and could bite him again.

Hill is exceptionally hittable on the feet (45% striking defense), and while Santos’s power isn’t what it used to be, he can still crack.

Santos is a reasonably durable fighter for light heavyweight too. And of late, he’s slowed down the pace of his fights to a crawl, leading to a run of decisions (four of his past five fights).

After an early feeling-out process, I expect Hill to ramp up the pressure, walk Santos down, and potentially force a finishing sequence on either side.

As a result, I want no part of Hill here as a big favorite. Even though he likely has more finishing upside and more minute-winning ability, he could be confident to a fault if he decides to brawl with the best striker that he’s ever faced.

The longer the fight goes, however, Hill’s pressure should wear on the older fighter, and Hill could find the target and close the show in the later rounds as Santos begins to slow.

Santos vs. Hill Pick

I projected Jamahal Hill as a 75% favorite (-299 implied) in this fight, and I don’t see value on either side of the moneyline.

However, I projected this bout to go the distance 30% of the time (+233 implied), and I do see value relative to the goes the distance (“GTD”) prop (+320 at FanDuel) and the overs (over 1.5 at -145 and over 2.5 at +135 at DraftKings). The over 2.5 feels more borderline, however.

As a point of comparison, an average UFC light heavyweight bout goes to the scorecards 38.5% of the time.

Additionally, I projected Hill’s decision line at +434 (18.7% implied) and show value relative to the +600 (14.3% implied) at PointsBet. Technically, depending upon the book, I show value on Santos by decision (projected +786, listed +850 at BetRivers). However, I prefer the Hill from a minute-winning perspective. Santos may need multiple knockdowns to win a decision.

While I think this fight can go the distance – and that prop is certainly undervalued relative to the divisional average – my read was a later-round stoppage (Rounds 3-5) for Hill.

As a result, the over 1.5 is my favorite bet, but I would consider allocating some capital to the GTD prop and Hill by decision bets.

The Picks: Over 1.5 Rounds (-140, Risk 1u) at WynnBet / Fight goes to decision (+310, 0.1u) at PointsBet / Hill wins by decision (+600, 0.1u) at PointsBet

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