Jamahal Hill: UFC champion vacates title after suffering ankle injury

Jamahal Hill has vacated the UFC light-heavyweight title after suffering an injury, which reportedly occurred during a basketball game between fighters.

Hill, 32, won the vacant gold in January, outpointing Glover Teixeira in the veteran’s native Brazil, but the American has decided to relinquish the belt without having made a single title defence.

“I have unfortunately suffered an injury,” Hill said on his YouTube channel on Thursday (13 July). “I’ve ruptured my Achilles’ [tendon]. It’s just one of those things that happens.

“It’s a tough injury. It’s one that will require surgery and will require time and rehab and things for me to be out for a while.”

Per MMA Fighting, Hill suffered the injury while playing a basketball game with fellow fighters before UFC 290 in Las Vegas last week.

Explaining his decision to vacate the title rather than allow the UFC to proceed with crowning an interim champion, Hill referenced his own route to the belt. In 2022, an injured Jiri Prochazka relinquished the title within several months of winning it. Jan Blachowicz and Magomed Ankalaev fought to a draw while competing for the vacant belt in December, and another title fight was organised just one month later – with Hill beating former champion Teixeira.

“I was given an opportunity,” Hill said. “I was given a blessing that came at the misfortune of someone else. Jiri Prochazka was the champion, he suffered an injury, as these things happen. He gave up the belt and allowed for others to not hold [up] the division – to keep the division moving forward, to keep entertaining, to make sure the people had a champion. I’ll do the same.

“Right now, the biggest thing is focusing on my recovery, focusing on getting back to 100 per cent. I need to take some time to focus on my health and make sure that I’m 100 per cent and I’m the fighter that everybody knows who I am, and who I’ve been since I’ve stepped into this. In order to do that, I need to focus on healing and getting ready and rehabbing.”

Former champion Blachowicz is scheduled to fight ex-middleweight title holder Alex Pereira on 29 July, with some fans suspecting that the bout will now become a contest for the vacant light-heavyweight strap. However, many have called for Prochazka to face Ankalaev for the vacant title.

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