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Jamahal Hill relishes UFC 283 title shot: ‘My biggest fear for a while was dying without knowing how truly good I was’

Jamahal Hill on The MMA Hour

Jamahal Hill finally gets to find out just how good he is.

Following the split draw at UFC 282 between Jan Blachowicz and Magomed Ankalaev, UFC President Dana White announced Hill will fight Glover Teixeira for the vacant light heavyweight title at UFC 283. The opportunity is the first title fight in Hill’s career, and one that “Sweet Dreams” said finally affords him the chance to answer the biggest question of his life.

“I feel just blessed,” Hill told Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour. “There’s some emotions there, just for the simple fact of what I had to do to get here, all the things that I had to endure to get here, all the things that were said, and all the questions I had to answer. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind talking about myself, so even back then when I told them, ‘Yeah, I could do that. I could be one of the best in the world. I could be up there at the top, competing for a title,’ and all this and that, and people would look at me, ‘If you could, you wouldn’t be here.’ Then when I started doing it, ‘Oh, you’re never going to be this, you’re never going to be that, you’re never going to do this.’ But I’m here. I’m here. I answered all those questions.

“My biggest fear, my biggest fear for a while was dying without knowing how truly good I was. Without knowing my true potential. And now I get to answer that question. All I ever wanted was to answer that question, and Jan. 21 it’ll be answered.”

Hill went on to explain that the question about how good he could become dated back to his previous jobs, working in factories in Michigan while trying to make his MMA dreams happen.

“What kind of life do you want to live?” Hill said. “What do you want to be said whenever your last day does come. What did you do with your time here? Like I said, ‘Oh I could have done this, or I could have done that.’ I had time where I stepped away from MMA and was just working. Working a factory job, not sure if I would ever make it back to this. So that was a question. ...

“You had your dreams, you had your ambition. ‘Man, I really want this. I don’t know if I can live not knowing, not at least trying.’ I get to know. I’m going to be honest, I’m more dangerous in this fight than I’ve ever been, because there is no losing for me. There is no losing in this fight for me, because at the end of the day, I get the answer. Either I was good enough or I wasn’t. And that’s all I ever wanted, from the time I stepped in. To just know.”

No, Hill gets to answer the question that’s driven him, but even just getting this far is a success in itself, as just five years into his professional career, Hill is fighting for a world championship. And he knows that, which is why he intends to go back to his last factory job, to see the man who inspired him to chase his dreams.

“Probably at some point this week, I’m going to go up there, and I want to see if the supervisor is still there,” Hill said. “The supervisor where we sat back one day, and we had that talk. ... I told him, ‘I was this, I was the top amateur in Michigan, I was blah, blah, blah,’ and he gave me this f****** look. ‘I’m not trying to be a dick, but if you do all that, you were really good like that, you wouldn’t be here. So whatever.’ And he wasn’t an a******! It was just real s***. Like, don’t talk me to death.

“I don’t know if he was trying to call me out, or set the fire like he did, but I quit. I quit the next day or my birthday. I called and set up my first pro fight, and that was the last job I had. I’ve been doing this since then.”

Hill will fight for the UFC light heavyweight title in the main event of UFC 283 on Jan. 21 at Jeunesse Arena in Rio de Janeiro.

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