Greatness. It’s the goal of so many people in so many walks of life, but in 99 percent of cases, it’s an unattainable target.
There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s just reality. But take someone like recent Dana White’s Contender Series graduate Jamahal Hill, and his goal to become the greatest mixed martial artist of all-time is something that is within his reach if he puts in the work and wins the fights. In other words, his destiny is in his own hands, and there can’t be any more intoxicating feeling than that.
“It almost feels unreal but, at the same time, it’s something I’ve been preparing for, not just since I’ve been training, but my whole life,” said Hill. “Ever since I was a kid, I felt like whatever I locked in on as what I wanted to do, I was gonna be one of the greatest to ever do it. When I was younger, I thought it would have been football or basketball, but then I grew up and I started fighting and I wanted to be the greatest at that. Whatever what I do, I aim to be the greatest.”
He’s off to a solid start, winning 11 amateur bouts without a loss before starting his pro career 6-0. And despite beating UFC veteran Dequan Townsend in just his fourth fight, the sixth win on that ledger was his biggest, as he stopped Alexander Poppeck in two rounds on the DWCS in July. When it was over, he was confident that a contract was going to follow, but he couldn’t know for sure until UFC President White said the words.
“I felt pretty good about my performance, so I had a good feeling I was gonna get the contract, but you never know,” said Hill, who joined Sean Woodson and Billy Quarantillo in getting awarded deals with the UFC that night.
Woodson debuted in spectacular fashion in beating Kyle Bochniak in October and Ultimate Fighter veteran Quarantillo will make his first walk to the Octagon next month against Chris Fishgold. The 28-year-old Hill was scheduled to beat them both to the big show in August, but paperwork issues that weren’t resolved in time kept him from a trip to China to face Da-un Jung on short notice.
It was disappointing for the light heavyweight newcomer, but “Sweet Dreams” will get his shot in January when he meets Darko Stosic in Raleigh, North Carolina. It’s a lot shorter trip for the Grand Rapids product, but whether he’s traveling to China or within the US of A, Hill just wants to get in there and scrap.
“I love what I do,” he said. “It’s fun for me. I’m ready to get out there, get in front of the people and let the people know who I am.”
In the meantime, Hill is putting in the work in the gym, getting ready for Stosic, and even fitting in some hoops “just for fun.”
I point out that in New York City, we don’t play “just for fun.”
He laughs, explaining that “It’s still real,” just that he’s not getting paid for it. He even offered his services for NBA All-Star Weekend’s celebrity game, offering to “show them how it’s done for real.”
That day may just come if he starts reaching the level that his sporting heroes – Muhammad Ali, Anderson Silva and LeBron James – have made it to in their chosen fields. And while it’s the cliché to remind people that you’re just looking at the task in front of you, Hill is not afraid to say that he’s aiming higher.
“I’m very appreciative of where I am and the position I’ve been able to put myself in and everybody that’s helped me get to this point,” he said. “I just want to see if everything that I dreamed of could come true. I don’t want to have that question of how good could I have been. I want to know that I did this and gave it my all and this is where I came out at, wherever that may be.”