It was a grueling fight through every minute of every round but Hill’s tenacious offense finally gave way to a barrage of punches slipping through Thiago Santos’ defense that put the one-time light heavyweight title contender down on the canvas. From there, Hill just unloaded with punches on the ground until he gave referee Herb Dean no choice but to save Santos with the fight coming to an end at 2:31 in the fourth round.
“I’m a hard person to stand with,” Hill said about his win. “I just don’t stop working. We just keep working. That’s all we do is work.
“Ya’ll got to let that experience stuff go. Ya’ll ain’t never experienced nobody like me but I’ve seen plenty like ya’ll though.”
With a wide southpaw stance, Hill was trying to force Santos into his powerful left hand but the Brazilian was smart to circle way from any potential knockout blow early. Santos fired back with a huge overhand right that went whizzing by Hill’s head and it definitely got his attention.
As Santos was stuck on his backfoot, Hill started throwing a quick right jab that was connecting as well but he still had to be wary in the moments when the always dangerous power puncher decided to launch a huge counter strike of his own.
Santos decided to turn to his wrestling as the second round got started but that strategy nearly backfired as Hill shrugged off the attempts and started to land with hard punches on the inside. A short shot seemed to wobble Santos momentarily but a second later he unloaded a huge shot of his own that cracked Hill in return.
As the lights heavyweights were both seemingly losing steam, Santos started looking for takedowns again and while he was effective at getting Hill to the canvas, he couldn’t really control his opponent from scrambling back up to his feet again. Still, Hill was doing as much as he could from those positions as he fired knees to the body and making Santos work for every position he got.
Finally as the fourth round got underway, Hill turned back to his pressure game as he began marching forward with combinations and Santos’ gas tank being drained wasn’t helping his cause at all. At one point, Santos actually turned away during an exchange and Hill followed him with a massive punch that spelled the beginning of the end.
With Santos retreating, Hill just continued throwing huge, heavy shots until a straight left landed on target and his opponent toppled over, falling to the ground. Hill followed him to the canvas where he started blasting away with hammer fists, punches and finally a series of elbows that forced the referee to stop the contest.
The finish capped off a remarkable evening in Las Vegas with all 10 fights on the card ending by way of knockout or submission.
While this particular TKO win wasn’t the same kind of highlight reel victory that Hill had built his reputation on lately, this was arguably his strongest win to date because his stoppage came against a proven veteran like Santos.
Now that he’s beaten a top contender, Hill has his sights set on the best of the best in the light heavyweight division.