On Saturday, following a disappointing split draw decision between Jan Blachowicz and Magomed Ankalaev at UFC 282 that was supposed to crown a new light heavyweight champion, UFC President Dana White announced the promotion had booked a bout between Hill and Teixeira for the vacant belt in the main event of UFC 283 in January.
The speed with which the UFC put the fight together shocked just about everyone, including “Sweet Dreams,” who was at home watching the event when he got the phone call. But, Hill said, when you think about the position the UFC was in, the quick decision makes a lot of sense.
“I got a call from my manager, and he asked me if I wanted to fight Glover in Rio for the belt,” Hill told Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour. “Easy yes.
“The thing was surprising was how quick they called, but it’s not really that surprising once you think about it, the state of where the division right now. I had a feeling they didn’t want to leave the belt vacant, you’ve got me and [Anthony] Smith scheduled to fight... I figured it was a possibility. I figured I would be next in line just because of the misfortune with the leg injury that happened to Smith. Unfortunately, he still lost that fight, so I figured I would be next.”
The opportunity to headline a pay-per-view and fight for a title is obviously a big step up, but it does come at a cost: Hill only has six weeks to prepare for his first-ever title shot, where he will face a former champion with much more experience. And while he acknowledges it’s not ideal, he ultimately isn’t bothered.
“I’m locked in,” Hill said. “I’m just focused on the assignment, focused on the task of going in and getting the job done. I would have liked more time, but it is what it is. Most of my time, I’ve already started to settle into camp. That’s why I wasn’t in Vegas, because I was buckling down and getting locked in. So it is what it is. Six weeks. If I can’t come out and display that I’m the best in six week, then am I really him? Am I really who I think I am?”
The other downside for Hill is the location. UFC 283 takes place in Teixeira’s home country of Brazil. This will be the first card in the country in nearly three years, and Brazilian crowds are notoriously antagonistic towards fighters who are competing against their countrymen, meaning Hill is likely to face one of the hostile crowd of his career. But Hill is actually excited about that part of it.
“I think it’s going to be lit,” Hill said. “I’ve seen the cards in Brazil, seen the energy, seen them hype and all that. I always figured if I was going to fight in Brazil, I was going to be fighting a Brazilian. ... I’m going to enjoy it. I’m going to enjoy the energy, I’m going to enjoy the excitement. I get to be here. This is a moment that many have dreamed of. Many have walked through the UFC octagon doors and dreamed of fighting for a title. I’m one of the few that get to do it. What is there not to enjoy? What is there not to be grateful for?”
Teixeira is similarly happy and gracious with this turn of good luck, noting over the weekend that Hill is a “tough, tough opponent,” and saying he wants to fight the best. Likewise, Hill was very complimentary of Teixeira, but when the cage door closes in Rio, “Sweet Dreams” does not intend to be nice.
“I think I win, dominantly,” Hill said. “Dominantly, because that’s what I train for. I train for nothing short of dominance. I don’t care who it is, I don’t care what pedigree everybody thinks and says he has over me, matchups make fights. Everybody always keeps saying this, but within a matchup there are different things that people do, and I am different. I am different.
“I think it could very well end early, but if I need to put it on him — he’s durable. He’s durable and he’s willing to bang out, he’s willing to go through the fire. So if I’ve got to put him through the fire, the guns are on deck.”
UFC 283 takes place Jan. 21 at the Jeunesse Arena in Rio de Janeiro.