UFC fights viewed as sure-fire slugfests have a bad way of disappointing once the bell rings. Unfortunately, that was true again for fans tuning in to see the UFC Fight Night main event between light heavyweight bangers Thiago Santos and Johnny Walker on Saturday night. After five rounds of lackluster action, Santos took a narrow unanimous decision victory to snap a three-fight losing skid.
The fight fell into a rhythm quickly, with both men appearing hesitant to fully engage with their trademark blistering offense. Instead, Walker looked to feint and land leg kicks to win the opening round on the scorecards. Santos would work his way back into the fight in the second round with a strong body kick attack.
That focus took both men away from shots to the head and meant that over the course of five rounds, the expected brawl between two men with a combined 30 knockout victories never developed.
“He’s unpredictable, you know?” Santos said of his performance after the fight. “Two weeks before, I cut my face when my partner threw an elbow. I trained hard. It’s hard to be close to him, he’s big but he moves fast and he’s dangerous.”
After splitting the first four rounds of the fight, everything came down to a vital Round 5. In his first fight since switching camps to SBG Ireland, which was part of Conor McGregor’s meteoric rise to the top of the fight game, Walker was instructed by his new trainers to focus on feints in the fifth and final round.
Walker would apply that strategy, but it would lead to little success, allowing Santos to steal the round — and the fight — by landing just a few solid kicks in the final five minutes.
The official scorecards real 48-47 across the board for Santos, who won his first fight since a February 2019 fight that earned him a shot at then-light heavyweight champion Jon Jones.
Walker suffered his third loss in four fights, having broken a two-fight losing skid in his most recent outing, a first-round knockout of Ryan Spann.