On Thursday night (July 13, 2023), Jamahal Hill announced he was the latest fighter to relinquish the 205-pound title after suffering a ruptured Achilles tendon. Now, we’re getting word that the injury was suffered during a Team Cormier vs. Team Hill basketball game organized during UFC 290’s International Fight Week.
“From what I heard, per sources, the injury occurred at the MMA fighter basketball game ahead of UFC 290,” MMA Fighting’s Damon Martin reported on Twitter.
The game in question went down on the Friday night before UFC 290 and saw Hill and former “champ-champ,” Daniel Cormier, assemble teams of fellow fighters to play a friendly game of hoops. Other players involved included Belal Muhammad, Kevin Holland, Derek Brunson, Mike Malott and Phil Rowe (who earned himself the MVP of the game award), among others. And the stakes were oh-so high: Team Cormier took home a $3,000 prize after inching out Team Hill 49-48.
As a result, Hill now loses out on the seven-figure payday he was expected to earn in his first UFC title defense.
Fight Hoops MMA Basketball : Team Daniel Cormier vs Team Jamahal Hill. I’m one of the judges for the MVP trophy kind of stressed about this pic.twitter.com/D58vxpUPE9— Helen Yee (@HelenYeeSports) July 8, 2023
It’s the kind of freak accident that you can’t really do much about (except perhaps stretch a little more before undertaking any activity). There was nothing too rough about this basketball game and fighters go through tougher training sessions every day. Our biggest gripe is that Hill should have already defended his belt by now. He won it off Glover Teixeira in January and has been calling on UFC to move the division forward and stop waiting on former roost-ruler, Jiri Prochazka, to heal up.
Now, Hill is in the same position as Prochazka: forced to relinquish the title, with a promise he’ll get a shot upon his return. The average Achilles tendon repair takes six-to-nine months to heal from. It would probably take longer if it’s a high-performance athlete like Hill who wants to ensure the strength and stability of the ankle.
Here’s hoping Hill recovers fast and gets a shot as his belt as soon as possible.