Manager: Injured Jamahal Hill will return to UFC title shot but timeline still unclear

Jamahal Hill is at the front of the line to fight for the UFC light heavyweight title, but he needs to get healthy first.

Hill (12-1 MMA, 6-1 UFC) previously held the 205-pound championship but was forced to vacate in July after he suffered a torn Achilles tendon. A new champion was finally crowned at UFC 295 in November, when Alex Pereira earned a second-round TKO of Jiri Prochazka.

After undergoing surgery to repair the damage, Hill, 32, has vocalized hopes for mid-2024 return to the octagon. His manager, Brian Butler from SuckerPunch Entertainment, didn’t rule out that timeline, but also said nothing firm is in place at this point.

“He’s coming along well,” Butler told MMA Junkie Radio. “I am not a doctor and I am not in a position to speak as to how quickly he can come back, and I think it’s a little preemptive now to put any dates on that. But his goal is to come back in and around that time (of International Fight Week). But I just don’t know. But I do know he’s working hard. He’s moved to Vegas and he’s staying there to utilize the (UFC Performance Institute) and the services there with the outstanding team there that is helping him recover.”

Hill has expressed his desire for a matchup with Pereira upon his return to the octagon. Although Pereira, No. 1 in the latest USA TODAY Sports/MMA Junkie light heavyweight rankings, is arguably the most lethal standup fighter on the UFC roster, No. 2-ranked Hill thinks he can knock the Brazilian out and reclaim his belt and top ranking.

It remains to be seen, however, if Pereira (9-2 MMA, 6-1 UFC) will remain on top during Hill’s absence. Pereira has teased a potential title defense at UFC 300 in April, which would mean the chance someone else takes the strap before Hill gets his opportunity.

No matter who holds the belt, though, Butler said Hill will be first option once his recovery is complete.

“No (there won’t be a warmup fight),” Butler said. “He gets a title shot right away.”

Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie