Top Canadian bantamweight Josh Hill didn’t hold back his excitement when he found out he’d be fighting UFC veteran Erik Perez this Friday at Bellator 244.
“My manager texted me and just said you know, Eric Perz August 21 and I was just ecstatic,” Hill told Cageside Press. “He’s definitely a big name, a really well-rounded guy. He actually left the UFC on like a three-fight winning streak, which is pretty rare to see that happen. And then he went to Combate and had a couple of fights there and then he came over to Bellator. This is definitely a big fight for me, he’s a big name and he will be a really big win for me.”
Hill (19-3) is coming off a unanimous decision victory over Vinicius Zani in his Bellator debut back in February. The “Gentleman” has won five of his last six fights, with the lone setback coming against UFC veteran Taylor Lapulus at TKO 45 where he lost by split decision. The Hamilton, Ontario native trained in California at Team Alpha Male for this camp which he says paid dividends.
“I’ve been going out there since 2013-2014,” Hill explained. “It’s always good to go out there and to work with Cody [Garbrandt]. Song Yadong is another guy that you know, he’s an enormous bantamweight and a beast. There’s a whole bunch of guys out there and every time I go you know, it’s just awesome and working with guys like [Chris] Holdsworth and Urijah [Faber]. It’s just always good.”
Perez (19-7) had his five-fight win streak snapped after he was knocked out in 54 seconds by Toby Misech at Bellator 235 in December. Hill is thrilled with the style match-up and believes we could be in store for a ‘Fight of the Night’ type performance from both bantamweights.
“I think it’ll be an exciting fight just because Perez the type of guy (who has) that Mexican slugger mentality, he’s always coming forward,” Hill said. “He’s always in your face swinging. And I’m a more of a cerebral fighter. I like to move a lot, create angles, I like to mix up my takedowns. So I think this is gonna be an interesting fight. But I see it I see me beating him everywhere, to be honest, I think would be the faster, more athletic, more explosive guy. I think if I do land on him, I’m going to put him to sleep. But I could also see myself submitting them on the ground as well or being dominant for three rounds. So I’m prepared. Wherever this fight goes. However it ends, you know, I can only see myself winning.”
With Bellator’s bantamweight division hotter than ever, Hill believes the winner of Friday’s fight will no doubt be in a contenders spot.
“The bantamweight division is stacked,” Hill said. “You got [Patchy] Mix and [Juan] Archuleta, whoever wins that I’m assuming that’s for the title. And then you got [Sergio] Pettis, who they’re saying is the number one contender. So it looks like he’s fighting the winner of that. I think if I win against Perez, I think that puts me pretty much in a number one contender spot against somebody else. There’s guys like Kyoji Horiguchi, there’s [Ricky] Bandejas, there’s Raufeon Stots. There are tons of bantamweights. But right now I’m just I’m focusing on Perez and he’s the priority.”
Bellator 244 takes place Friday, August 21 at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. Light heavyweight champion Ryan Bader defends his title against Vadim Nemkov in the main event.