UFC light heavyweight champion Jamahal Hill is eager to make his first title defense, and while Jiri Prochazka was originally slated as the next challenger, Hill is eyeing an alternative option.
If Prochazka isn't ready to step back into the octagon soon, Hill has his sights set on the victor of the Jan Blachowicz vs. Alex Pereira matchup, taking place as the co-headliner at UFC 291 on July 29.
Hill, who secured the vacant heavyweight belt by dominating Glover Teixeira at UFC 283, has grown impatient while waiting for Prochazka to recover from a severe shoulder injury. He expressed his belief that the next deserving contender should step up in Prochazka's absence, and that man is not Magomed Ankalaev.
“In my personal opinion, (Ankalaev) hasn't earned the shot – just like Jan has to go out and get another shot, and get another win because it ended in a draw," Hill candidly shared at UFC X during International Fight Week.
While some argue that Ankalaev should be in the title conversation, Hill firmly believes that he needs to secure another victory before earning his shot. The same applies to Blachowicz, who faced a draw in his last outing against Ankalaev.
With no official date or opponent in place for Hill's next bout, he remains confident that he will step back into the octagon before the year's end.
“One hundred percent, I expect to fight again this year," Hill assured. "I would have liked to have already fought again and been looking out to fight in another fight, but I definitely, 100 percent expect to fight before the end of this year."
As the anticipation builds for Hill's first title defense, the possibility of facing either Blachowicz or Pereira, both formidable opponents in their own right, adds an intriguing twist to the light heavyweight division.
With Hill's determination to solidify his reign as the champion, fans can expect an electrifying matchup that will showcase the relentless spirit of the division's best.