Jamahal Hill is open to the idea of a champion-versus-champion fight with Alex Pereira, but he thinks that the Brazilian should handle some business at middleweight first.
“Sweet Dreams” put on the most impressive performance of his career at UFC 283 when he earned a fairly one-sided unanimous decision victory over former champion Glover Teixeira. The 30-year-old was largely able to shut down Teixeira’s takedown attempts and worked to his feet on the few occasions he did end up on the ground, which resulted in a fight where Hill dominated the striking exchanges to claim the UFC’s vacant light heavyweight title.
The light heavyweight division previously experienced a tumultuous few months after former champion Jiří Procházka vacated the belt due to a shoulder injury and the initial matchup for the vacant title ended in a draw, but now that Hill is champion the weight class can hopefully return to something close to normalcy.
The 30-year-old is eager to settle things with Procházka once the latter fighter is healthy, but he also expressed interest in facing UFC Middleweight Champion Pereira when Ariel Helwani suggested it on The MMA Hour.
“Shit, what’s poppin’? We can get that crackin’ if he wanna come on up and try his luck with that shit, come on in,” Hill said. “I’m not scared of nobody bro, and I take very seriously the challenge. It gives me extra incentive to fuck you up…He feels some type of way about it, show me. I’m in the ‘show me’ business.”
Jamahal Hill suggests Alex Pereira should defend title first
Pereira pulled of a stunning fifth-round finish to claim the middleweight title from Israel Adesanya at UFC 281, and the 35-year-old’s imposing size almost immediately prompted discussions of him moving to light heavyweight at some point.
The current picture at the top of the light heavyweight division is still a bit unclear, but at middleweight it looks as if a rematch between Pereira and Adesanya is the UFC’s preferred next move. Hill understands the promotion would like to avoid creating a jam in two divisions, but he sees a path for “Poatan” to eventually move up and challenge him.
“I think he would have to defend his title at middleweight first. I think [the UFC] want that, you know they want to keep that division moving. They don’t wanna like – as far as talent, I think our division is great. We just have a bunch of unfortunate circumstances right now with guys being hurt and things like that. It’s kinda creating a headache, and I don’t think they wanna throw the middleweight division into that kind of headache.
“I think they probably would wanna keep that rolling, so he probably defends his belt at least once or twice. Probably might do the Izzy fight again, and then probably like a Rob Whittaker. ‘Cause if he beats both of them, if he beats Izzy again and he beats both of them, now hell yeah. F**k yes, yes. Hell yes. We do that.”
Teixeira announced his retirement after losing to Hill at UFC 283, but the 43-year-old indicated he would stay involved with the sport and in particular focus his efforts on coaching Pereira. Fight fans are always ready for a champion-versus-champion matchup, but the potential narrative of Pereira trying to avenge his mentor’s loss to Hill could make that fight all the more intriguing.