LAS VEGAS — Jamal Hill declared himself a legitimate contender in the UFC light heavyweight division, finishing off former title challenger Thiago Santos with an impressive TKO.
The fight is Saturday’s UFC main event on ESPN 40, which airs on ESPN and live on ESPN+ from UFC Apex.
Hill took a wide stance at the start of the fight, maintaining his range early on. After Santos knocked the ball down in the opening minute after a strong kick in the leg, Hill smiled as he began to move forward more aggressively on his feet. Santos circled to the right and tried to set up a couple of big counter-attacks before opting for another shot inside, although Hill defended well over the fence.
In a pinch, Hill’s knee landed, creating a brief pause, and while both returned aggressive in the restart, neither was clean before the bell rang.
Hill pressed to start the second, slashing on the leading leg and looking for a jab. Santos was again surprised by a knockout, briefly dragging the action to the floor, though he couldn’t secure the top spot. Hill crawled back to his feet alertly, eventually pulling away, punching in the ensuing scramble.
After a brief bout, both were starting to gain their footing, although it seemed to be Hill’s right end that seemed most effective. Santos seemed a little tired as the round went on, although Hill had to respect the strength of his opponent as he sought to aggressively attack. Still, Hill clearly got the best deal for the rest of the time.
Santos got a quick knockout in the opening seconds of the third quarter, and he kept pushing hard as Hill scrambled and defended. Santos did move back briefly in an exchange, but Hill knocked him out of the way and escaped the threat.
Santos continued to trade intensely for the remainder of the round, keeping Hill on defense and limiting his chances of attacking.
The fourth quarter started with Hill appearing to be a rookie, punching and kicking when Santos wanted to retreat and fight back. Santos still threw hard, but he struggled to find the mark. Ultimately, Hill was able to land cleanly with a combination that sent his opponent to the ground. Hill followed, refusing to give Santos time to recover, unleashing a barrage of punches and elbows to end the fight at 2:31 of the game.
As a result, Hill (11-1 MMA, 5-1 UFC) now has a three-game winning streak built since his only career loss and says he is ready to challenge for the absolute best in the division, despite any perceived lack of him possible experience.
“You all have to let go of those experiences,” Hill Say after the battle. “You’ve never experienced someone like me. I’ve met a lot of people like you, though.”
Santos (22-11 MMA, 14-10 UFC) is now on a two-game losing streak thanks to the loss.
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The full UFC results on ESPN 40 include:
Jamahal Hill def. Thiago Santos via TKO (punch, elbow) – 4th round, 2:31
Jeff Neal definition. Vicente Luque by Knockout (Punches) – Round 3, 2:01
Muhammad Usman def. Zac Pauga Passes Knockout (Punches) – Round 2, 0:36 – “The Ultimate Fighter 30” Finale
Juliana Miller Definition. Brogan Walker via TKO (punch, elbow) – Round 3, 3:57 – “The Ultimate Fighter 30” Finale
Sergey Spivacs Augusto Sakai via TKO (punch) – Round 2, 3:42
Terrence McKinney def. Erick Gonzalez via submission (naked suffocation after standing) – Round 1, 2:17
Michal Oleksiejczuk def. Sam Alvey via TKO (punch) – Round 1, 1:56
Brian Battelle def. Takashi Sato passes knockout (header) – 1st round, 0:44
Corey McKenna def. Miranda Granger via Submission (Von Flue choke) – Round 2, 1:03
Mela Bueno Silva Stephanie Egger via Submission (armbar) – Round 1, 1:17
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