Jamahal Hill Vacates UFC Light Heavyweight Title
Photo from via Instagram @sweet_dreams_jhill
By Shawn Stewart
Early Friday morning, UFC light heavyweight champ Jamahal Hill (12-1, 1 NC) posted a video on YouTube channel which you can watch below announced that he had ruptured his Achilles tendon.
Due to the lengthy layoff for surgery and rehabilitation, he has elected to surrender his belt and not keep the division in limbo.
In his emotional video statement, Hill explained that the UFC informed him that he would be able to fight for the strap after he completes his recovery, but the timetable for his return is currently unknown other than “as soon as possible…within reason.” MMA Fighting subsequently reported that Hill suffered the injury during the basketball game between MMA fighters prior to UFC 290.
“I’m here with some news,” a crestfallen Hill said. “I’mma be real, right off the bat, it’s not the good news that we would hope like…everyone knows I’ve been waiting for months now to face Jiri Prochazka to defend my belt and my title. Unfortunately, we’re gonna have to wait a little bit longer for that to happen. I have unfortunately suffered an injury. I’ve ruptured my Achilles.”
Hill, the first signee from Dana White’s Contender Series to win a UFC championship, did so by facing off against Glover Teixeira for the vacant crown. Over the course of five rounds, Hill beat up Teixeira in Brazil, earned a “Fight of the Night” check and claimed gold. That victory extended his win streak to four, as he had previously knocked out Jimmy Crute, Johnny Walker and Thiago Santos in the span of about eight months to take the short-notice opportunity. The light heavyweight title was vacated due to an injury suffered by Jiri Prochazka, and Prochazka decided to give his belt back instead of forcing the UFC to create an interim championship.
Hill continued, “Yeah…it’s just one of those injuries, one of those things…it’s just one of those things that happens, it’s a tough injury. It’s one of those [that will] require surgery, it will require time and rehab and things for me to be out for a while. So…I was given an opportunity, I was given a blessing, and that came at the misfortune of someone else. Jiri Prochazka was the champion, he suffered an injury, as these things happen, and…he gave up the belt to allow for others to not hold the division up. To keep the division moving forward, to keep entertaining, to make sure the people had a champion. And I’ll do the same.”
At the end of June in the co-headliner of UFC 291, ex-champ Jan Blachowicz and former middleweight kingpin Alex Pereira will battle it out. The promotion had remarked it could have been a no. 1 contender matchup, depending on the result. While it has not yet made a move, it is a possibility for that bout to be upgraded to a vacant title match. Additionally, Prochazka has been training again, but his return date has not yet been targeted given that Hill will no longer be his opponent for the foreseeable future. It is expected that “Denisa” would be fighting for his old belt when he competed again.
“Right now, the biggest thing is focusing on my recovery, focusing on getting back to 100%,” remarked the 32-year-old. “I need to take some time to focus on my health and make sure that I am 100% and I’m the fighter that everybody knows who I am and that I’ve been since I stepped into this. And in order to do that, I need to focus on healing and getting ready, and rehab.”
“This is not an easy video for me to make,” he expressed, brimming with emotion. “I like to be transparent, and I like to keep it real. If I had my choice, would I like to give up the belt? No, I wouldn’t. Just…you gotta be consistent. I understand it’s the business, the show must go on, and I’m not exempt from that.”