Jamahal Hill has surged into championship contention off a flurry of knockouts, but he’s ready to win by any means necessary when he takes on Glover Teixeira at UFC 283.
Hill has left American soil for the first time to take on Teixeira for the vacant UFC light heavyweight title in the main event in Rio de Janeiro, and he said he’s ready to return home as the new undisputed champ at 205 pounds.
Hill looks calm and confident ahead of the title fight, which came somewhat out of leftfield after the UFC 282 bout between Jan Blachowicz and Magomed Ankalaev failed to crown a new champion in December.
That bout left the UFC bosses underwhelmed and, rather than booking the rematch for the title, they instead pivoted to a different title clash, with former champion Teixeira matched with Hill, who is getting his title opportunity earlier than most expected.
But, despite the fast track to a title shot, Hill said he’s ready to go in Rio.
When asked how he was feeling ahead of his first tilt at UFC gold, Hill told reporters, “Just hungry bro, just hungry, ready for the kill.
“Whenever I’m in a faceoff, or whenever I’m in the cage, you see the difference in my eyes. It’s the competitor (in me). A competitor (and a) killer.”
Hill’s relaxed demeanor matched his respect for his opponent. While the American is still relatively new in the UFC after graduating from Dana White’s Contender Series in 2019, “Sweet Dreams” has gone 5-1 (1 no contest) in the Octagon, and takes on 43-year-old former champ Teixeira, a man he said he ranks among the division’s all-time greats.
“I think he’s a great opponent,” Hill explained.
“I think he’s an OG of the game. He’s been around for a long time for a reason you know? You can’t be doing what you do at his age and not be one of the best of all time.
“I’ve always been impressed with Glover. I’ve always been a fan of Glover. He comes (to fight) every time. Just how he deals with adversity in fights and things like that. So yes, it’s always been great to watch him.”
Conventional wisdom suggests Teixeira will look to lean heavily on his grappling skills against knockout artist Hill, but the American said he isn’t overly focusing on his opponent’s approach. His aim is to stick to his own gameplan, make sure he’s present in the moment, and execute on fight night.
“There are no easy fights in the UFC, especially at this level,” he said.
“I just need to be sharp everywhere and be on point and on my game and implement myself and do me. Just do me.”
Facing a former UFC champion who is 12 years his senior, with three times the experience, could be a daunting prospect for a first-time title challenger. But Hill isn’t measuring himself against his opponent, or any of the previous men to have held the 205-pound strap. He’s focusing on himself, and hopes to prove himself right on Saturday in Rio.
“(Winning the title) means everything,” he said.
“It means that all my work wasn’t for nothing. All those dreams, all those visions, all those times just sitting it was something higher speaking to me and letting me know what my purpose was.
“I don’t look at it win or lose. I look at it as I’ll just get the answer, that I’ve answered the question that I’ve always wanted. Am I great enough? How good am I? Am I good enough to be the world champion?”
It’s a test that could see him taken into deep water. He’s gone five rounds before – in a title fight in a regional promotion earlier in his career – and he went into the fourth frame in his most recent appearance, a late TKO victory over another former title challenger, Thiago Santos.
Hill says he’s ready for whatever the fight throws at him, and whether it’s a quickfire finish or a grueling war, he’ll be the one standing victorious at the end of the bout.
“Everybody wants to throw the perfect punch right out the gate and try to get it over,” he grinned.
“But I’m not worried about that. I don’t really think about that. I’m ready to lock in for five rounds and go to war.”