Monday, December 5, 2022

Jamahal Hill Names One Thing People Underestimate About Him

Despite his rise up the ladder, UFC light heavyweight Jamahal Hill says there’s one part of his skillset that still doesn’t get the respect that it deserves.

Since arriving on the scene with a TKO win over Alexander Poppeck on Dana White‘s Contender Series, Hill has remained near perfect on MMA’s biggest stage.

Aside from a sole loss to Paul Craig — and a victory over Klidson Abreu that was later overturned to a no contest — “Sweet Dreams” has had non-stop success, putting his power on full display in the process with four knockouts.

After stopping Jimmy Crute in just 48 seconds last December, Hill entered 2022 as a main event-worthy contender. He’s only enhanced that reputation in the months since with a brutal KO triumph against Johnny Walker capping his debut headliner in style, and a finish of Thiago Santos six months later leaving him one place outside the top five.

It’s clear that Hill has developed a penchant towards striking, evidenced by the fact that seven of his 11 professional wins were ended via KO/TKO. But despite boasting no submissions successes on his résumé, Hill firmly believes in his abilities on the ground.

Hill Dismisses Striking-Only Narrative

During an appearance on the UFC Unfiltered podcast, Hill looked back on is sole defeat in professional MMA and dismissed a grappling narrative that the setback enhanced.

At UFC 263 last June, the #6-ranked light heavyweight contender shared the Octagon with Craig, a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt known for his sublime submission game. To the surprise of many, “Sweet Dreams” appeared willing to engage with the Scotsman on the ground, even after escaping an initial armbar attempt.

After getting caught in another “Bearjew” submission, Hill had his elbow dislocated. With the referee choosing not to stop the contest, the Chicago native endured a number of punches and elbows in the triangle position en route to a TKO loss.

But despite the result and nasty injury, Hill believes that his choices in the grappling realm led to his demise, not any deficiencies in that area.

“He got some of my pride. I wanted to win, just based off the beef of that thing. I wanted to completely embarrass him,” Hill recalled. “The best way to do that was to go to your game and completely destroy you. I’m not saying that I can’t out-grapple Paul Craig, but I did it on his terms. I let him dictate it on his terms.”

With that in mind, Hill believes that his grappling game is unfairly dismissed, largely owing to the fact he chooses to strike more often than not.

“There’s been a narrative that just because I like to throw hands, I can’t grapple, right?” Hill noted. “I actually fought this guy before, him and his dad were coaching at Michigan State wrestling; he’s got all these wrestling credentials, brown belt or black belt in jiu-jitsu, and I went down, and I was working his ass. Overall, I worked him on the ground.”

Jamahal Hill & Paul Craig
Image Credit: Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC

Given those remarks, perhaps we’ll be seeing more of Hill’s ground skills moving forward as he looks to stake his claim for a shot at Jiří Procházka’s 205-pound gold.

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