Despite his relative lack of pro fight experience, Contender Series winner Jamahal Hill is ready to be tested, and considering a move to middleweight.
Las Vegas, NV — What he lacks in experience, Contender Series 2019 Week 5 winner Jamahal Hill makes up for in determination. That much was clear on Tuesday, as Hill earned a second-round TKO of Alexander Poppeck. Despite Dana White bemoaning Hill’s youth in the sport, the UFC President awarded him a contract.
While only a pro since 2017, “I’ve been working for this so long,” Hill told reporters including Cageside Press post-fight at the UFC Apex. “Trying to be ready. Everyday just grinding in the gym, thinking, dreaming, hoping. Now that it’s here, I’m just ready for what’s next.”
Reflecting on the fight, Hill said that “I’m very critical of myself, so I always feel like there’s room to improve. Things I can do better. I’m probably my biggest critic.”
“It kind of went how I expected. Just go in, feel him out a little bit in the first,” Hill continued. “Then start to get going. I knew that once I started finding my rhythm, and started finding my pace, he wouldn’t be able to keep up with my pace. He just began to fade, and I just keep throwing.”
Asked for his thoughts during the bout, Hill said that “I’m going to be honest, when I was in there, I was just thinking about the fight. I was locked in. I forgot that Dana was cageside, I forgot that I was on the Contender Series. All I’m thinking was doing work, and treating it like another day at the gym.”
Now he’s in the UFC, and there will be no slow build, White said earlier Tuesday. The question of Hill’s experience is understandable, something even he acknowledged. “I did start my pro career late,” Hill admitted, “but I’ve been fighting since 2010. So I’ve been at this for a long time. I’ve been with my guys, I’ve had my setbacks and things like that. But I feel like I’ve been ready for this. We’ll see. Throw me in the water, see if I can swim.”
That very well may be what happens, given the state of the light heavyweight division. Although Hill, who has fought at heavyweight in the past, hinted at a weight change. “We’ve been talking possibly 185. So we’ll probably try to check into that. Right now, whatever, he gives me a fight at 205, I’m ready to go. I ain’t worried. I’m one of those fight whoever, whenever type of dudes. I’m not intimidated, I’m not scared of nobody.”
As for when he’d like to make his UFC debut, Jamahal Hill answered “as soon as they can put me on a card, I’m there, I’m ready.”
“I feel like people need to know who I am,” he added. “Also in doing so, I’ll know who I am.” Ready to test himself, in other words.