If I didn’t know any better, I would think Thiago “Marreta” Santos didn’t belong in the UFC. Santos was a +410 underdog for his UFC debut against Cezar Ferreira, a fight he lost in under one minute by submission. He was a +660 underdog against Ronny Markes in his second UFC fight, which he surprisingly won by TKO in the first minute. Now Santos is +315 against Uriah Hall. Is Santos really this bad, or is he being massively underrated?
One thing for sure is that I can’t use statistics to answer this question. With only one minute and 40 seconds of data to work with, I decided instead to watch footage of Santos from the second season of The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil. Santos fought four times on that show (going 2-2) so there was no shortage of fighting to watch.
The conclusion I drew from this tape study was that… Santos is a poor man’s Uriah Hall. There really are a lot of similarities between the two. Both fighters like to stand and strike, and both fighters have particularly good kicks. Both fighters have defensive shortcomings when it comes to protecting their head, and both fighters are much better at kicking than they are at punching. Both fighters have lackluster takedown defense and both fighters look somewhat uncomfortable on the ground.
With that said, I think Hall is just a bit better than Santos in just about every category. Hall isn’t a great boxer but he does have stiff, powerful straight punches to go along with his wide variety of kicks. Santos tends to loop his punches and really leave his head exposed. Hall’s takedown defense is fairly average while Santos’s takedown defense is a genuine liability. Hall has enough skill on the ground to avoid being submitted while Santos really struggles badly at avoiding bad positions. Santos strikes me as the type of fighter who is just too flawed to succeed in the UFC long-term.
Even though Hall is known to mix in a takedown from time to time, he’s a striker first and always will be. In a striking match between Hall and Santos, I can’t help but feel that it could go either way. Hall is certainly a favorite in that type of fight, since he has the more diverse striking arsenal. Still, I feel that both fighters are capable of potentially finishing the fight by knockout.
However, I also believe that some of Hall’s problems are caused by his fear of being taken down. I think this is why Hall has a tendency to back up and avoid getting into punching range, along with the natural desire to be at kicking range in the first place. Against Santos, Hall shouldn’t have much fear of the takedown, so it’s possible that we’ll see a more aggressive and confident striker as a result.
But should Hall really be a -410 favorite? This is a fighter who enters at 8-4 overall with one loss by knockout. I feel like Hall has too many defensive striking flaws to be considered that strong a favorite to defeat an opponent who also has some striking skill.
Even so, Hall really should be considered the favorite here. I don’t think there’s any one thing Santos does better than Hall in MMA. It’s also possible that Hall will take Santos down and win on points that way – Hall nearly defeated Costas Philippou with takedowns and ground control. Still, I think this fight will be a striking match most of the time, and I have to consider Santos a “live” underdog in that scenario.
Pick: Uriah Hall by KO