LAS VEGAS — Jamahal Hill announced himself as a legitimate contender in the UFC light heavyweight division with a stunning TKO finish over former title challenger Thiago Santos.
The matchup served as the main event of Saturday’s UFC on ESPN 40 event, shown on ESPN and streamed on ESPN+ by UFC Apex.
Hitting a wide stance early in the match, Hill held his range early. After landing a powerful leg kick, Santos went for a takedown in the first minute, drawing a smile from Hill, who began to go a little more aggressively on the legs. Santos circled a right and tried to set up some long counters before opting to shoot back inside, although Hill defended well against the fence.
In the clinch, a Hill knee landed on the cup, prompting a brief timeout, and though both men picked up the aggression on the restart, neither landed clean before the bell.
Hill pressed to start the second, cutting off the lead leg and looking to work a jab. Santos surprised again with a takedown, briefly dragging the action to the floor, though he was unable to secure the top spot. Hill stood up alert and eventually pulled away, landing some sharp punches in the ensuing fight.
After a brief clinch, both men began to struggle on the feet, although it was Hill’s right end that looked more effective. Santos appeared to tire a bit as the round wore on, although Hill was forced to respect his opponent’s strength when trying to attack aggressively. Still, Hill clearly got the better of the exchanges for the rest of the frame.
Santos earned a quick takedown in the opening seconds of the third and was relentless with submissions as Hill constantly scrambled and defended. Santos briefly worked on the back in an exchange, but Hill got the better of him and escaped the threat.
Santos continued to initiate the exchanges for the remainder of the round, keeping Hill on the defensive and limiting his opportunities to land any offense.
Opening the quarter, Hill appeared to be the fresher man and stalked with punches as Santos looked to back off and counter. Santos still threw hard, but struggled to find the mark. Eventually, Hill was able to land cleanly with a combination that sent his opponent crashing to the floor. Hill followed and refused to allow 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) now boasts a three-fight winning streak built since suffering the only loss of his career and said he is ready to challenge her absolute best category, regardless of the perceived lack of experience he may have.
“You have to let all these things of experience go,” Hill he said after the match. “You have never experienced anyone like me. I’ve seen plenty like you, though.”
With the loss, Santos (22–11 MMA, 14–10 UFC) has now dropped two in a row.
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Full UFC on ESPN 40 results include:
Jamahal Hill def. Thiago Santos via TKO (punches, elbows) – Round 4, 2:31
Jeff Neal op. Vicente Luque by knockout (punches) – Round 3, 2:01
Mohammed Usman or. Zac Pauga by knockout (punches) – Round 2, 0:36 – “The Ultimate Fighter 30” finale
Juliana Miller def. Brogan Walker via TKO (punches, elbows) – Round 3, 3:57 – “The Ultimate Fighter 30” finale
Sergey Spivats or. Augusto Sakai via TKO (punches) – Round 2, 3:42
Terrance McKinney def. Erick Gonzalez via submission (standing rear naked choke) – Round 1, 2:17
Michal Oleksiejczuk def. Sam Alvey via TKO (punch) – Round 1, 1:56
Bryan Battle def. Takashi Sato by knockout (head) – Round 1, 0:44
Cory McKenna def. Miranda Granger via submission (Von Flue choke) – Round 2, 1:03
Mayra Bueno Silva def. Stephanie Egger via submission (armbar) – Round 1, 1:17
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