Jamahal Hill finally knows the answer.
For years, Hill asked himself if he was talented enough to be a champion.
That question drove him during training. It pushed him beyond his limits, far beyond what was previously believed to be his breaking point. And in the main event of UFC 283 last Saturday, Hill gave a definitive answer to the question.
“That’s good to know,” says Hill (12-1, 1 NC). “There was no plan for me. But I made all these dreams come true.”
Hill defeated Glover Teixeira by unanimous decision in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to become the new light heavyweight champion. He controlled every aspect of the match, dominating most of their 25 minutes in the cage.
Although it was widely believed that Teixeira’s jiu-jitsu would be overwhelming, it was Hill who stood out as the better grappler. The fight was completely lopsided – 232-75 in Hill’s favor – and Hill’s takedown defense was nearly flawless as he defended 15 of Teixeira’s 17 takedown attempts.
“I was prepared to go all five rounds and keep working,” says Hill. “I went in, followed the game plan and did what I said I was going to do.”
Starting in the second round, there were several instances where it looked like Hill would finish Teixeira after drilling him with a vicious amount of shots. The end looked inevitable in the third when Hill landed a devastating left head kick, but he was unable to deliver the necessary ground and pound to finish Teixeira.
“There were a couple of times I asked myself, ‘How tough is this guy?'” says Hill. “He definitely took more than I thought he would.”
In the fourth round there was head kick after head kick from Hill, and it was realistic to think the fight would be stopped. But referee Marc Goddard never called for a stoppage, and the doctor cleared Teixeira to continue into the fifth.
Improbably, Teixeira (33-9) landed a takedown in the fifth. It immediately became his best chance to win the fight, but Hill broke free and regained control in very succinct fashion.
“You don’t want to be on the ground in an MMA fight, but I stayed focused on what we were training,” Hill says. “I flipped him, I switched positions with him, and I knocked him to the ground.”
The enormous task of completing Teixeira mirrored Hill’s journey in life. The 31-year-old comes from humble beginnings, but hard times never wavered his ambition or spirit.
“I wanted more,” says Hill. “I still do. I have bigger dreams than this too. I’ve only had eight fights in the UFC. I’m just getting started.”
Before Hill’s flight home even landed, there was much discussion about a potential title fight against current middleweight champion Alex Pereira, who was in Teixeira’s corner at 283. Teixeira, who announced his retirement after the loss, shared that managing Pereira will be his guidance. priority going forward. Social media was abuzz with the idea of Pereira staring down Hill after the game, but Hill quickly — and emphatically — put a stop to that.
“It was cap, it was all cap,” says Hill. “People need to stop it. The media will take anything and run with it. The whole Pereira situation, I saw something like: ‘After the match, Pereira went up to Jamahal.’ Brother, I went to his corner and shook hands with his corner. He didn’t look me up and down. I held out my hand and he looked me in the eye when I shook his hand.
“The reason I don’t like it is because if he had come [at me] or stared at me, or something like that, it would have been taken up with him then and there. To think that he would do something like that and I wouldn’t say anything is blasphemy. On top of that, he knew what the moment was [meant] for Glover. I doubt he would try to make that moment about himself. That moment was about me becoming champion and Glover retiring and everything he’s accomplished in his career.”
As talk grows louder of a title fight against Pereira, there will be more and more opponents hungry for a shot at the belt. Jan Blachowicz, Magomed Ankalaev and Anthony Smith are three top contenders, and former champion Jiri Prochazka will immediately go to the front of the line when healthy.
With the division in line to take what Hill has worked so hard to achieve, he is willing to put even more of his soul into the sport to extend his stay at the top.
“The belt is cool,” says Hill. “It’s shiny and s—. Now that I got it, I know what comes with it. It comes with a bounty.
“Everybody wants what I have. I’m focused on that. It’s time to evolve, step up again and rule the division.”