Hill stops Santos in fourth to earn signature win

MMA

All that was missing from Jamahal Hill‘s rise in the UFC was a signature win.

He got it Saturday.

Hill stopped former title challenger Thiago Santos via TKO at 2:31 of the fourth round in the main event of UFC Fight Night at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. Hill dropped Santos with punches and then finished things with a flurry on the ground. Santos tried to defend on the mat, but Hill landed elbows until referee Herb Dean stopped the fight.

Coming into the bout, ESPN had Santos ranked No. 9 in the world at light heavyweight. Hill was unranked, but that is likely to change soon after this victory, his third straight. Hill said in his postfight interview that the UFC should “keep pushing me up there.”

“I feel like a title shot would be good,” Hill said.

Santos came out looking for takedowns from the beginning, even though he is a decorated striker with 11 UFC knockouts, tied for the fourth most in promotion history. But Hill has a ton of power in his hands, and the strategy was a smart one for Santos, who landed a career-high five takedowns.

The problem for Santos ended up being his gas tank. He had success with takedowns in the third round, but by the fourth he was visibly tired. Hill took advantage by pressuring him in the fourth and landing big combinations on the feet. Santos threw hard back and landed some, but he eventually wilted to Hill’s pace and boxing.

“I expected him to come in and shoot [for takedowns],” Hill said. “I’m a hard person to stand with. He mixed it up pretty well.”

Hill (11-1, 1 NC) has earned finishes in his last three wins. The Chicago native, who fights out of Michigan, has just one career loss, to Paul Craig at UFC 263 in June 2021. Hill, 31, is 5-1 (1 NC) in the UFC with four KO/TKOs. Those four KO/TKOs is tied for the most in the UFC light heavyweight division since 2020.

Santos (22-11) has lost five out of his last six fights. The Brazilian slugger, who trains out of Florida, fought for the UFC light heavyweight title in 2019, a close, split decision loss to Jon Jones. Santos, 38, is tied for the most knockouts in UFC middleweight history (8) with Anderson Silva and Uriah Hall. “Marreta” moved up to light heavyweight in 2018.

UFC Fight Night: Santos vs. Hill was just the second event in modern UFC history with at least 10 fights and 100% finishes, per ESPN Stats & Info. The other was UFC Fight Night: Rockhold vs. Bisping, which had all finishes in 11 fights.

Also on the card Saturday night, Mohamed Usman knocked out Zac Pauga in the second round to win the heavyweight tournament of The Ultimate Fighter 30 reality show. Juliana Miller won the women’s flyweight Ultimate Fighter 30 tournament, stopping Brogan Walker via TKO in the third round.

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