Despite stopping one-time light heavyweight title contender Thiago Santos with strikes in the fourth round, Hill still felt like he made too many mistakes that could have led to disaster rather than the victory he ultimately secured.
“I’m happy with the win, but I’m not happy with my performance,” Hill said at the UFC Vegas 59 post-fight press conference. “I need to get back to the drawing board and do a much, much better job. That’s what I’m going to do.
“Always look to improve. Always need to get better. Always. So even if it’s the smallest thing or it could be something really small and stupid, I still need to improve on it.”
When asked for specifics, Hill pointed towards the moments in the fight when he started exchanging wild shots with Santos on the feet, which could have easily ended with either man in a heap down on the canvas.
In the end, Santos was the one absorbing damage on the ground following a knockdown that led to the finish, but Hill knows he didn’t stay composed enough and it could have cost him.
“[I need to] be a little bit more patient,” Hill explained. “Don’t get drawn into that firefight. I got that dog in me sometimes so I can get drawn into it so just stay disciplined. Stay disciplined.”
While it may not have been the performance he necessarily wanted, Hill still left with a TKO finish against a highly touted light heavyweight contender like Santos that will result in his biggest jump up the rankings. He entered Saturday as the No. 14 fighter at 205 pounds in MMA Fighting’s Global Rankings, while Santos was No. 12.
“I’m happy I got the win,” Hill said. “I’m happy I got to represent what comes with me. I can say I’m tough and this and that all day but I got to show that tonight.
“I expected a war. I expected a man that’s been up at the top and fighting in battles at the top, fighting and battling the top guys to not quit. To not back down, to not give an inch in there and to bring it. I made mistakes and he made me pay for them. I’m coming. I don’t stop. I don’t know how to stop coming.”
Now riding a three-fight win streak in the division, Hill is hoping that he’ll see an even bigger opponent when he makes his return to action in the UFC.
The 31-year-old light heavyweight would like nothing more than to see reigning 205-pound champion Jiri Prochazka standing across the cage from him because that’s a fight he’s wanted long before the Czech native even won the title.
“I want a shot at Jiri,” Hill said. “I’ve been calling for Jiri for about two years now. I want him. I don’t care if he’s the champion. I’ve got twice as many wins as he does in this organization. I want him.
“I can’t get him, give me the man that used to sit on the throne. I’ll take Jan [Blachowicz]. I’m hungry. I want gold. The lion is hungry for gold. Present or former.”
Whether he gets Prochazka, Blachowicz or somebody else, Hill wanted to make one thing abundantly clear both during his post-fight interview and when speaking to reporters after the event was finished.
While his record only reads 13 total fights, Hill promises that he’s already the rarest breed in the UFC. Because for all the fighters who have come before him, he considers himself one of one.
“You ain’t never fought nobody like me,” Hill proclaimed. “I’ve fought dudes that are tough and going to come in and throw hard that want to take me down. I’ve fought all of them. Have you fought anybody as sharp as me? That’s going to hit you. That you in danger the whole time you’re standing. If you shoot, you’re still going to be in danger. I’m not going to stop.
“You’ve got to work. Work, work, work. That’s what comes with me. How many of y’all have experienced that? No matter the situation, I’m going to work. He grabbed my back, got on my back, I work. He got me down. I work. He grabbed me, I work. We clinched, I work. We’re standing, I’m working.”