Three years ago, Thiago “Marreta” Santos captivated the international audience with a show of greed and courage against Jon Jones. Despite a severe knee injury, he fought to the end of the five rounds and lost via split decision – the first man to beat “Bones” on an official scorecard, although the other two judges scored the fight for the then champion. UFC light heavyweight.
Three years later, the Brazilian fighter is experiencing a completely different moment. After spending a year on the sidelines recovering from surgery, Thiago Marreta has lost three of the four fights since returning, and has not been able to recapture the magic of that July night in Las Vegas. This Saturday, in the same city, he will have one more opportunity to do so, in the main event of UFC Marreta x Hill. On the other side will be the American Jamahal Hill, a young knockout artist who promises to get the best out of him. O Combat broadcasts live and exclusively from 8:15 pm (Brasilia time).
Thiago Marreta (left) and Jamahal Hill (right) face off at UFC weigh-in — Photo: Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC
The expectation is that it will be an intense exchange of blows, but that was also expected from Marreta’s duels with each of his last three opponents: Aleksandar Rakic, Johnny Walker and Magomed Ankalaev. Instead, it was three fights of a lot of hesitation on both sides and a focus on scoring more than on chasing a knockout. The Brazilian light heavyweight assures that he will do his part to prevent this from happening again.
– Coming from the two of us, who are aggressive and knockout fighters, there is everything for the fight to end in a knockout, but we take the history and many aggressive and knockout guys, when they fight me, they fight with the rule under their arm, they totally change the game. For my part, you can expect a Thiago Marreta different from past fights, an aggressive Thiago Marreta and looking to finish the fight. But I can’t answer for him – said the carioca to the Combat this week.
Judging by the opponent’s CV, there is no reason to doubt that it will be a battle. Jamahal Hill, 31, has six of his 10 wins by knockout. He still has a knockout loss – an arm injury sustained while attacking inside the opponent’s guard – and a “No Contest”, which was a knockout victory disallowed for being caught with marijuana on a drug test.
His nickname is “Sweet Dreams” – “Sweet Dreams” in Portuguese, because he often “lays down” his opponents. And Hill repeated Marreta’s speech: he thinks the Brazilian can be the one who runs away from the exchange of blows to bet on a safer strategy.
– He is known for striking. But I can understand how people watch (my) videos and start thinking “this is a little worrying”. So I can imagine him changing, taking more of a heavy wrestling approach, because they believe I don’t know grappling. It’s been such a mystique, or whatever you want to call it, about me that I can’t do grappling. So I feel like it might be a possibility that he might try to test that.
Judging by the hot glare between the two at the weigh-in, though, neither of them will back down.
Brazilians and TUF 30 finals
Vicente Luque (left) and Geoff Neal (right) smile as they face each other at UFC weigh-ins — Photo: Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC
The event also brings three Brazilians to its schedule. Vicente Luque, sixth in the welterweight ranking, faces Geoff Neal, 13th, in the co-main event. It’s another duel that promises an intense exchange of blows between two fighters. Luque was off four straight wins before being defeated by Belal Muhammad in April; Neal hasn’t fought since December, when he beat Santiago Ponzinibbio by split decision.
Another Brazilian in action is heavyweight Augusto Sakai, 14th in the category ranking. The Paraná native is going through a bad phase, with three consecutive defeats by knockout, and is looking for a turning point in his career after changing his training to the American Top Team, in the USA. His opponent is Moldovan Sergey Spivak, who is coming off a victory over Greg Hardy in March.
Mayra Sheetara completes the Brazilian squad in action. The bantamweight from São Paulo opens the preliminary card against Switzerland’s Stephanie Egger. Brazilians Ariane Lipski and Priscila “Pedrita” Cachoeira would also face each other this Saturday, but Lipski felt sick after Friday’s weigh-in and the match was postponed to next week.
Another highlight of the card are the finals of the 30th season of the reality show “The Ultimate Fighter”, which had Amanda Nunes and Julianna Peña as trainers. In heavyweight, two athletes from Team Peña face off: Mohammed Usman, brother of welterweight champion Kamaru Usman, and Zac Pauga, undefeated in five professional fights. In the female flyweight, the final is between Brogan Walker, a Team Nunes athlete from muay thai, and Juliana Miller, a grappling competitor.
O Combat broadcasts live and exclusively from 8:15 pm (Brasilia time). O combat.com it’s the SportTV 3 exhibit the Combat Warming and the first two fights; the site follows the entire tournament in Real Time. Check out the full card:
UFC Marreta x Hill
August 6, 2022, in Las Vegas (USA)
MAIN CARD (23:00 GMT):
Light heavyweight: Thiago Marreta vs Jamahal Hill
Welterweight: Vicente Luque vs Geoff Neal
Heavyweight: Mohammed Usman vs Zac Pauga
Flyweight: Brogan Walker vs Juliana Miller
Heavyweight: Augusto Sakai vs Sergey Spivak
PRELIMINARY CARD (8:35 pm, Brasília time):
Middleweight: Sam Alvey vs Michal Oleksiejczuk
Lightweight: Terrance McKinney vs Erick Gonzalez
Welterweight: Bryan Battle vs Takashi Sato
Strawweight: Cory McKenna vs Miranda Granger
Bantamweight: Mayra Sheetara vs Stephanie Egger