Jamahal Hill is not in a rush.
He wasn’t anxious to get in the UFC when he was fighting on the regional circuit and he certainly wasn’t nervous when he competed on Dana White’s Contender Series. That stone-cold confidence helped Hill earn a victory in his UFC debut in January and show out at UFC Vegas 1.
On Saturday, the undefeated prospect from Michigan will welcome a step-up in competition when he throws down with former light heavyweight title challenger Ovince Saint Preux.
“I’m excited to fight somebody that’s been in there with everybody. He’s been in there with the top dudes for years,” Hill told UFC.com “He’s a real test in this sport and I’m ready to be tested. Like I said in the beginning, throw me in the water and see if I can swim - deep water.”
“Sweet Dreams” has shown no signs of sinking thus far in the Octagon, as he’s looked dominant in both of his UFC appearances. The 29-year-old took care of Darko Stosic in his debut and then finished Klidson Abreu in the UFC’s first event held at the UFC APEX.
Those two performances caught the attention of fight fans and the UFC brass, prompting the matchmakers to give Hill a chance to fight a big name in OSP. Hill’s showdown with OSP will be featured as the co-main event of UFC Vegas 16 and is undoubtedly the perfect chance for Hill to end his stellar 2020 campaign on a winning note.
“I already knew I wasn’t a prelim fighter when I made my debut on the main card. Just the fact of me sliding into the co-main event spot legitimizes that and I’m going to come up and put on a show like I always do. All you got to do is put me in the spotlight and I’m going to shine,” he said. “I feel like my style matches up with anybody; I’m just excited to show just how effective my style and the things that I do are against everybody. Especially against somebody who’s been in there against everybody who’s well-rounded with standup and on the ground. People are going to start to see for real what I really am - a lion in the doghouse.”
There is no doubt that Hill has that “it” factor, and you get the feeling that something special is happening when he is about to step in the Octagon. His fierce confidence, combined with his physical tools, make him a real threat at light heavyweight, and while it’s easy to identify those attributes as reasons for Hill’s success, he will tell you that it all comes from embracing the grind.
“Me and my guys, we get in the gym and we just grind. We do us - we ain’t changed nothin’ since day one. I’ve been doing this since 2010 and I’ve never lost, never once. That’s almost 11 years of straight dominance so I’m going to just keep doing what I’ve been doing,” Hill said of his team at Black Lion Jiu-Jitsu. “The fact that I love what I do makes it easy for me to get up in the morning and train and things like that. Now, the higher the competition, I will rise to that occasion. No matter what, I’m not going to let somebody outwork me, and I’m not scared of nobody. I’m here to show truly what I can do, and once I do that, have fun while I’m doing it abd enjoy this because it’s my dream job.”
It's evident that Hill sees UFC Fight Night: Hermansson vs Vettori as a launch pad for what’s next in 2021. That doesn’t mean that he’s underestimating OSP and what OSP brings to the table, but he is just eager to fight anyone and everyone who has a name at light heavyweight.
“[The OSP fight] is a good start you know; I think he’s ranked number 15 in the world and if I go in there take him out and get that number next to my name, then everybody has to respect that,” he said. “From there, I just start taking out whoever. Like I said, I don’t need to call anyone out or none of that s***; I’m here for everybody. I’m here to dominate and rule over anybody in this division, so it doesn’t matter who comes after that.”
Don’t miss UFC Fight Night: Hermansson vs Vettori, which airs live on ESPN2 and ESPN+ at 7pm ET/4pm PT.