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Jamahal Hill all-in on potential Jiri Prochazka matchup: ‘There is no fight I want more’

In many ways, Jamahal Hill is still processing what he accomplished at UFC 283.

“It comes in moments,” the new UFC light heavyweight champion said Wednesday on The MMA Hour. “Just all the hard work and the journey and all those things. But now I’m just hungry for more greatness. I’m hungry now just to truly, truly — see, now that I’ve made history, I want to cement my name into that history, and I want to do that with names. Like a Jiri [Prochazka]. Like a [Alex] Pereira. Like a Magomed [Ankalaev]. Like a Jan [Blachowicz].

“Whoever. Whoever steps up. Whoever rises to the top of it. Whatever cream rises to the top, that’s what I want to swipe. I’m here for action. I’m here for them fights.”

Hill, 31, capitalized on the chaos of the light heavyweight division in a major way at UFC 283, jumping into a short-notice opportunity to challenge Glover Teixeira for the vacant strap and then dominating the former champion with a pillar-to-post victory. It was a meteoric rise few could’ve seen coming, especially considering Hill was sitting outside of the title picture as recently as December, and now “Sweet Dreams” has only one name in mind for his first title defense: The man who relinquished the belt, Jiri Prochakza.

“That is the fight that I want. There is no fight I want more than that fight,” Hill said.

“I know that’s a big fight, and I know that fight can catapult me into the right type of [financial] figures I want to be in.”

Whether Prochazka is a viable option, however, remains to be seen.

The chain of events that led to Hill’s rapid ascent was kick-started by a shoulder injury Prochazka suffered in November. Prochazka vacated his championship and the UFC annointed Ankalaev vs. Blachowicz at UFC 282 as the division’s next title bout; once Ankalaev vs. Blachowicz ended in a draw, the UFC pivoted to Hill vs. Teixeira at UFC 283.

Prochazka told MMA Fighting on Monday that he is tentatively targeting a return in either July or August, and that he is eager to test himself against Hill.

That timeline works just fine for Hill, but only if Prochazka’s prediction proves to be correct.

“I’ll wait,” Hill said. “I’ll wait, I’ll let him go through his rehab and things over these next couple months. But around maybe like April, I want an answer. I want to know an answer: Are you going to be back? Are you going be back around this time?

“If not, they need to start making preparations to have me fight somebody else.”

Prochazka’s prediction of a summer return could be an ambitious one, though. Depending on his recovery, the former champ may wind up being sidelined longer than he expects.

If that ends up being the case, Hill isn’t sure who deserves to be the next man up among a muddled group of 205-pound contenders.

“Somebody else is going to have to earn it,” Hill said. “Somebody else is going to have to earn it at this point. I’d love to see [Anthony Smith] fight for a title, whether that’s against me or whatever. I believe he’s been around long enough, he had his shot, he’s grinded and he deserves another shot. And he had an unfortunate injury, but it still happened and things like that, so I believe from the UFC side, they would want more, another victory, another solid victory or something for him. But for me, it’s next man up.

“Outside of Jiri, I don’t think there is [a clear-cut next title contender], just because of how the Magomed and Blachowicz fight ended,” Hill added. “There’s not really anybody to match either one of them up with, so maybe they fight again. That could be a possibility. But Magomed didn’t really help himself with hopping on the microphone and saying the things he said after, which, the UFC don’t control the judges.”

That’s why, all least for now, Hill is all-in on the Prochazka matchup. It’s the biggest fight against the biggest name, and that’s exactly what he’s looking for as champion.

And if it does happen, Hill likes his chances against the 30-year-old erstwhile king.

“I think I knock him out,” Hill said of Prochazka.

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