Things couldn't have been going better for "Gentleman" Josh Hill.
Undefeated as a mixed martial arts (MMA) proessional (9-0), the Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, prospect made his World Series of Fighting (WSOF) debut with a first round knockout of Mike Adams. WSOF President Ray Sefo slotted him as the No. 1-ranked contender to challenge bantamweight champion Marlon Moraes in Sept. 2014.
The injury bug bit Hill though, as it does so many other fighters with main events and/or title shots on the line. Forced to withdraw from the card, Hill sat on the sidelines as Moraes submitted Cody Bollinger in a non-title bout. Hill would have to wait it out, rehab his injury and hope there would be a second chance.
Hill knows a thing or two about second chances as a former cast member of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 18: Team Rousey vs. Team Tate, a show that (ironically) Bollinger was on as well. He won his way into the house by beating current UFC fighter Patrick Holohan, but lost to Michael Wooten on episode seven.
Two-round TUF fights don't count against your pro record, but the sting of that loss still drives Hill to prove himself to this day.
That chance has finally arrived. On Feb. 12, 2015, at Edmonton Expo Centre in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, Hill will finally face Moraes in the main event of WSOF 18 for the promotion's 135-pound title. Hill recently spoke with MMAmania.com about finally getting his long-awaited title shot and how ready he is for this fight.
"The camp's gone good. I did half of my training camp down at Team Alpha Male in Sacramento, and I finished up here with all of my guys. I feel good, no injuries -- knock on wood -- I've got one more hard week left but I feel good."
If that seems a tad superstitious he's got good reason, as Hill details how his last chance at the title got derailed right around the same time last September.
"It was about two weeks out from the fight. I was sparring with my training partner Mitch Gagnon and I faked a shot and came back up and threw strikes, and then went back down to re-shoot into a takedown and I just couldn't move at all. I ended up tearing a muscle in my lower back and just kind of seized right up and couldn't move for four days."
Even though Hill lost his spot in the WSOF main event to his former castmate -- and never got to fight at TUF 18 Finale to boot -- Hill still has a positive outlook on the show and his time working with "Cupcake" Miesha Tate.
"I remember watching that show before I even started training. All of a sudden a few years later I'm on the show. Unfortunately, it didn't go as I wanted (it) to, and one thing I was kind of bummed (about) was that none of the guys on the show got a chance to fight on the Finale. It kind of worked out -- now I'm here fighting for the world title for World Series. Being part of Miesha's team was awesome though, and even Rousey's team, they're all really cool people."
Tate just got a very hard-earned win at UFC 183 and Hill had a few thoughts about his former coach's fight.
"The first round Sara [McMann] came out and cracked Miesha with some nice shots and dropped her. She was in a lot of trouble and I didn't know if she was going to make it out of that fight. Toward the end of the second she turned it around, and then she dominated the third round. She gutted it out -- she's a tough chick."
And Moraes is a tough opponent, too. The reigning and defending WSOF bantamweight champion hasn't lost a match since 2011. Hill says he's ready for the challenge.
"He's good. He's really good. He's well rounded. He's got a good arsenal of weapons everywhere. He's a very good striker, very thai based. He throws a lot of heavy things (but) it also leaves openings for me. I think it's going to be a pretty action packed fight. I know everybody thinks that I'm just a wrestler, I hope people continue to think that (because) that'll give me opportunities to open up on other things."
Complete audio of our interview with Hill can be found below. You can watch WSOF 18: "Moraes vs. Hill" on NBC Sports live on Feb. 12, 2015, or in-person at Edmonton Expo Centre. Of course, MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE coverage on fight night, too.