August 4, 2018; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Thiago Santos lands hits against Kevin Holland during UFC 227 at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Despite UFC statistics telling you that these two have little interest in grappling, I wouldn’t necessarily be surprised to see this party hit the floor at some point Saturday.

Santos, who owns a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, may want to test his young counterpart’s grappling defense. Even if Santos fails to secure initial takedowns, those looks may give Hill something else to think about.

That said, Hill appears to have solid instincts when it comes to fighting grips and looking for separations, so don’t be shocked if the Michigan native can hold his own in these phases.

In fact, when going back to watch some of Hill’s regional fight footage, I found out that the American fighter wasn’t kidding in regards to grappling being his gateway into mixed martial arts.

Even back in his fourth professional fight in 2018, Hill displayed a decent ability to chain to and from single-leg variations, competently completing finishes. However, most of Hill’s takedowns and grappling entanglements seem to come along the fence, which just so happens to be where Santos defends best from.

Santos, whose on-paper holes used to reside within the grappling department, has shown that his cross-training at American Top Team has not been in vain.

Although Santos could use a little more emphasis on grip separation for my money, the former Brazilian paratrooper has improved his defense along the fence over the years. Santos does well when it comes to widening his base and staying on balance, typically with a whizzer and elbows in tow.

Regardless of who ends up on top in grappling scenarios, I’ll be curious to see how Hill’s grappling stacks up opposite Santos.

Hill may have only recently received a purple belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, but his game – outside of being caught by Paul Craig – appears very applicable to MMA.

From topside, Hill seems to smartly prioritize passing and punching, but will confidently apply himself from the mount position should it become available. And when Hill finds himself on the bottom, he seems both composed and active while either attacking or looking for sensible get-up solutions.

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