It took Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) two Light Heavyweight title fights, but it finally has a champion to replace Jiri Prochazka.
Jamahal Hill defeated Glover Teixeira at UFC 283 last night (Jan. 21, 2023) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, with a dominating performance (watch highlights here). How dominating? He landed 232 significant strikes over five rounds (a new 205-pound division record).
Maybe that means Hill will finally start feeling respected. “Sweet Dreams” has rightfully pointed out in the past how he was often left out of discussions regarding Contender Series successes. Now, he’s the first Contender Series champion. But, it sounds like many consider him merely a placeholder.
During UFC 283’s post-fight show, co-hosts Brett Okamoto and Din Thomas summed up the discourse Hill is gonna hear moving forward.
“Here’s the Light Heavyweight rankings and some of Jamahal Hill’s potential opponents,” Okamoto said. “You’ve got Jiri Prochazka right there at number one, he’s still battling back from that shoulder injury that forced him to vacate the title. Glover Teixeira, he’s done ... And then you’ve got Magomed Ankalaev, Jan Blachowicz, Aleksandar Rakic. All these guys are going to be targeting Jamahal Hill now.
“The guy’s talking about people doubting him and silencing those doubts,” he continued. “Is the doubt going to stop though is what I’m wondering, because this opportunity did come quick for him, and I think some of the names on that list, he might even be an underdog against them.
“That’s the problem: his path was so fast that we didn’t know what he was made of,” he added. “And the fact that he trains at this small place in Michigan, against the doubters he said, ‘I’m not going to a big camp, I’m staying with my small guys and I’m going to make it.’ And he made it. So there’s still a lot of doubts. And I’m sure that those guys from the bigger camps are going to be looking at him like food on the table.”
“When you look at guys like Aleksandar Rakic, Jiri Prochazka, they’re looking at him like ‘I’ve dealt with guys like this before.’ So I’m sure they’re still going to be doubting him.”
“There will be doubt, but there won’t be doubt from me,” Michael Chiesa chimed in. “I tell you what, to see the improvement from Jamahal Hill in just a short amount of time training for Glover Teixeira, seeing the improvements he made? What version of Jamahal Hill are we going to see next because how much more well rounded could he get?”
“He already has so much natural capabilities with his power coming out of both hands. Now the counter-wrestling, the get-ups off the ground in round five ... The performance tonight overall as a whole was very well rounded. I will never doubt Jamahal Hill again.”
Hill isn’t the first new UFC champion to face doubt following an unexpected win. When Alex Pereira won the Middleweight belt, half the wrestlers in the promotion suddenly wanted to move to 185 pounds to take advantage of his perceived weaknesses on the ground.
On the post-fight show, fourth man Gilbert Melendez suggested wrestlers like Blachowicz and Ankalaev might be eager to get in there with Hill, although he phrased it nicely enough.
“Those are two great grapplers that looked at this fight and were like, ‘Holy smokes, Jamahal Hill knows how to grapple, this guy knows how to scrap. I better get a hold of him now before he gets even better because he keeps leveling up.’” Melendez said. “So I’d like to see him test himself against those grapplers.”
In the end, this is just the kind of wait-and-see attitude that the current Light Heavyweight division generates since no one has been able to hold onto the title after Jon Jones left. Blachowicz held the belt ... then Teixeira ... then Prochazka. Hill got his title shot in shotgun fashion after Blachowicz and Ankalaev “meh’d” their way to a draw for Prochazka’s vacated title.
So, that’s going to leave some people looking at him like a paper champ.
That may be a foolish assessment, though, given how dominant and on point “Sweet Dreams” looked against Teixeira. Mixed martial arts (MMA) math never adds up when you stretch it too far, but Teixeira was one minute away from defeating Prochazka in their recent title fight before getting tapped. Yet, Teixeira never really even whiffed a faint scent of victory against Hill in Rio de Janeiro.
So, now is the time to establish your position on the new 205-pound champ: are you going to doubt Hill or get on the “Sweet Dreams” bandwagon?
For complete UFC 283: “Hill vs. Teixeira” results and play-by-play, click HERE.