Alex Pereira throttles Jamahal Hill in 1st to retain UFC crown

April 14, 2024, 1:49 AM

LAS VEGAS --  Alex Pereira continued his run as one of the UFC's most dynamic big-fight athletes.

Pereira has already won two championships at New York's Madison Square Garden. And Saturday, he knocked out former champ Jamahal Hill to retain the UFC light heavyweight title in the main event of UFC 300 -- one of the biggest events in promotion history -- at T-Mobile Arena. The finish came at 3 minutes, 14 seconds of the first round after one of Pereira's trademark left hooks.

The finish will be one that will live on highlight reels forever. Hill kicked Pereira low, prompting referee Herb Dean to step in and try to pause the fight. Pereira held up his right hand, stopping the official from intervening. Pereira then blasted Hill with the left hook and followed with violent punches on the ground.

"I was gauging the distance and timing," Pereira said through an interpreter. "Everything went perfect."

Hill relinquished the title last summer after rupturing his left Achilles tendon in a pickup basketball game. Pereira won the vacant belt by knocking out former champ JiYí Procházka last November at UFC 295 in New York.

Coming in, ESPN had Pereira ranked No. 3 in its pound-for-pound rankings.

Afterward, Pereira said he wanted to get right back in the Octagon and fight at UFC 301 on May 4 in his native Brazil. Pereira said he would like to do so at heavyweight, which would be his third weight class in the UFC.

"I want this fight," Pereira said. "I'm not hurt. Nothing happened."

Pereira (10-2) was the quickest fighter to ever win two UFC titles in two divisions (seven fights). The Connecticut resident knocked out Israel Adesanya to win the UFC middleweight title in 2022 before dropping the title back to Adesanya last year. Pereira, 36, is a former two-division champion in Glory Kickboxing and a Hall of Famer in that promotion.

Hill (12-1, 1 NC) had won four straight coming in. The Chicago native, who fights out of Michigan, beat Glover Teixeira, Pereira's coach and training partner, to win the UFC light heavyweight title at UFC 283 in January 2023. Hill, 32, was the first Dana White's Contender Series alum to win a UFC championship.

"I don't let this belt go to my head," Pereira said. "I have to go in here and win this belt every time to be champion."