Jamahal Hill seems ready for the big leagues. Hill closed in on the five-year anniversary of his professional mixed martial arts debut by bludgeoning Thiago Santos in a heavy-handed affair. Hill stopped Santos with strikes in Round 4 of their main event bout to close UFC Fight Night at the Apex in Las Vegas on Saturday.
A relatively uneventful first round was an appetizer of what was to come. Hill led with forward pressure as Santos mixed strikes and takedown attempts. UFC Fight Night was full of exciting fights and finishes. That energy trickled into the second stanza of the main event as Hill urgently shucked off and bounced up from Santos' takedown attempts, opening the door for some wild action. Hill appeared to hurt Santos in a wild exchange and stalled him later with a tight right hook. Santos then threw all his weight behind hard, looping shots that partly connected. Hill generally remained technical as his opponent slowed.
"This is not a bar fight," Santos' coach told his fighter between the first and second rounds, according to a translator on the UFC broadcast. "Damn it. What are you doing? This is not a bar fight."
Santos listened to the feedback and his commitment to wrestling paid off in Round 3. Hill found it more and more difficult to reject his opponent's advances. Santos was not able to do much with the takedowns, but it added an important wrinkle to the momentum of the fight. Round 4 opened the same way Round 2 concluded with both men swinging big. Hill landed more frequently, but Santos snapped his foe's head back with heavy fists. Hill hurt Santos and went in for the kill. Both guys swung wildly, but Santos crumbled under the pressure and Hill fired away with elbows until referee Herb Dean intervened.
"Y'all gotta let that experience stuff go," Hill told UFC commentator Michael Bisping post fight. "Y'all ain't ever experienced nobody like me. I've seen plenty like y'all though."
Hill improved to 11-1, 1 NC professionally and has pieced together a three-fight winning streak. Hill suggested a fight with former UFC light heavyweight champion Jan Blachowicz next. Santos dropped to 22-11 and has lost five of his last six fights. You can trace Santos' last winning streak back to 2018-2019.
All 10 fights on Saturday night ended via stoppage. It is only the second card in modern UFC history to have a 100% finishing rate. The other came back in November 2014 when a Fight Night event featuring Luke Rockhold vs. Michael Bisping in the main event saw all 11 fights end before the final bell.