LAS VEGAS – Jamahal Hill announced himself as a legitimate contender in the UFC’s light heavyweight division with an impressive TKO finish off former title challenger Thiago Santos.
The matchup served as the UFC’s main event on Saturday’s ESPN 40 event, which aired on ESPN and streamed on ESPN+ from the UFC Apex.
Hill hit a wide stance early in the fight and kept his range early. After landing a powerful kick to the legs, Santos went for a takedown in the first minute, which brought a smile to Hill, who started moving a little more aggressively on the feet. Santos circled to the right and tried to set up some big counters before opting to fire back in, although Hill defended well against the fence.
In the clinch, a Hill knee landed on the cup, triggering a short timeout, and while both men picked up on the aggression on the restart, neither landed clean before the bell.
Hill pressed to start the second, chopping the lead leg and trying to get a jab. Santos surprised again with a takedown, briefly dragging the action to the ground, though he was unable to secure the top position. Hill vigilantly scrambled to his feet and eventually pulled back, taking a few sharp punches in the ensuing struggle.
After a brief clinch, both men began to stall on their feet, although Hill’s right side looked the most effective. Santos seemed to get a little tired as the round went on, although Hill was forced to respect his opponent’s strength when he wanted to attack aggressively. Still, Hill clearly got the best of the exchanges for the rest of the frame.
Santos earned a quick takedown in the opening seconds of the third, and he was relentless with the effort as Hill constantly scrambled up and defended. Santos worked briefly back in one go, but Hill pushed him away and escaped the threat.
Santos went on to initiate grappling exchanges for the remainder of the round, leaving Hill on the defensive and limiting his chances of committing a foul.
Hill led off the fourth and appeared to be the fresher man, sneaking up on punches as Santos looked forward to retreating and countering. Santos still threw with power, but he struggled to find the target. In the end, Hill was able to land clean with a combination that crashed his opponent to the ground. Hill followed, refusing to give Santos time to recover, unleashing a barrage of punches and elbows that ended the fight at 2:31 of the frame.
With the result, Hill (11-1 MMA, 5-1 UFC) has now racked up a three-fight win streak since the only loss of his career and said he is ready to challenge the division’s absolute best regardless of any sightings. lack of experience he might have.
“You’ve got to let that experience thing go,” Hill said after the fight. “You’ve never seen anyone like me. However, I’ve seen plenty like you.”
With the loss, Santos (22-11 MMA, 14-10 UFC) has now lost two straight.
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Full UFC on ESPN 40 results include:
Jamahal Hill def. Thiago Santos via TKO (punches, elbows) – Round 4, 2:31
Geoff Neal def. Vicente Luque via Knockout (punches) – Round 3, 2:01
Mohammed Usman def. Zac Pauga via Knockout (punches) – Round 2, 0:36 – “The Ultimate Fighter 30” Final
Juliana Miller def. Brogan Walker via TKO (punches, elbows) – Round 3, 3:57 – Finale “The Ultimate Fighter 30”
Sergey Spivac def. Augusto Sakai via TKO (punches) – Round 2, 3:42
Terrance McKinney beats. Erick Gonzalez via submission (standing rear-naked choke) – Round 1, 2:17
Michal Oleksiejczuk beats. Sam Alvey via TKO (punch) – Round 1, 1:56
Bryan Battle def. Takashi Sato via Knockout (Main Kick) – Round 1, 0:44
Cory McKenna defeats Miranda Granger via submission (Von Flue choke) – Round 2, 1:03
Mayra defeats Bueno Silva. Stephanie Egger via submission (armbar) – Round 1, 1:17
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