With Alex Pereira and Jiri Prochazka squaring off for the vacant UFC light heavyweight belt, former champion Jamahal Hill sat cageside for the Madison Square Garden main event.
Hill, 32, captured the vacant belt in early 2023 with a dominant win over Glover Teixeira. However, Hill vacated the belt without making a title defense just months later after suffering a major injury.
Now in a similar situation to the one Prochazka was in a year ago, Hill has claimed he is guaranteed a title fight in his return. As of now, that challenge appears to be Pereira, with the Brazilian knocking out Prochazka to become a two-division champion.
How did Jamahal Hill react to Alex Pereira's knockout win?
With Hill being present for the pay-per-view event in New York, he was less active on Twitter than he usually is during UFC Fight Night events. Instead, the former champion was very animated on the sideline for each fight.
Hill was seen shouting at Pereira following the fight after the camera panned to the sidelined champion following Joe Rogan mentioning his name. Regardless, Pereira essentially no-sold his potential next opponent.
His immediate reaction to the controversial early stoppage was pretty much how many fans felt ... annoyed, cheated and a bit skeptical.
After the fight, Hill was interviewed on the post-fight show.
“I thought it ended a little early,” said Hill (h/t MMA Fighting). “[Prochazka] still had his arms clinched around his waist and things like that. You’ve got to let a champion go out. Jiri is a champion and I feel like he did deserve that respect of letting him try to fight through some adversity and I don’t think he was given that chance fully. But it’s the game.
“All in all, I was just thinking like neither one of these dudes are on my level. Neither one of them. I don’t think they are in any facet of the game and I can’t wait to get back in full health and be able to show that.”
Alex Pereira wants Israel Adesanyam next, not Jamahall Hill
Despite Hill being just a few feet away, Pereira used his post-fight call out on old rival Israel Adesanya after his win.
Pereira called Adesanya's previously announced decision to take time away from the sport a "waste of talent" and ended his mic time by telling the former champion to "come to daddy".
With Hill previously stating that he could return in early 2024, his timeline would match up better with Pereira than Adesanya. Though not injured, Adesanya publicly announced that he would take some considerable time off before his next fight and predicted a return to the Octagon in 2027.