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Alex Pereira vs. Jamahal Hill prediction, pick: Can an ex-champ get the title back at UFC 300?

MMA Junkie analyst Dan Tom goes in depth to break down the biggest fights in the UFC. Today, he takes a closer look at the UFC 300 main event between light heavyweight champion Alex Pereira and former champ Jamahal Hill, who vacated the belt in 2023 due to an injury.

Alex Pereira UFC 300 preview

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – NOVEMBER 11: Alex Pereira of Brazil walks to the octagon to face Jiri Prochazka of the Czech Republic in the UFC light heavyweight championship fight during the UFC 295 event at Madison Square Garden on November 11, 2023 in New York City. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’4″ Age: 36 Weight: 205 lbs. Reach: 79″
  • Record: (9-2 MMA, 6-1 UFC)
  • Last fight: TKO win over Jiri Prochazka (Nov. 11, 2023)
  • Camp: Teixeira MMA/Glover’s Garage (Danbury, Conn.)
  • Stance/striking style: Orthodox/kickboxing
  • Risk management: Good

Supplemental info:
+ Former UFC middleweight champion
+ 5x Glory middleweight champion
+ Glory light heavyweight title
+ Pro kickboxing record: 33-7 (21 wins by KO)
+ Amateur kickboxing record: 25-3
+ Brazilian jiiu-jitsu brown belt
+ 7 KO victories
+ 3 first-round finishes
+ Knockout power
^ Superb proprioception and accuracy
+ Devastating left hook and right cross
^ Times splits and counters well
+ Dangerous knees and leg kicks
+ Strong inside the clinch
^ Underhooks, overhooks and separations
+ Limited but serviceable grappling game
+/-0-0 against dedicated UFC-level southpaws

Jamahal Hill UFC 300 preview

Jan 21, 2023; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Jamahal Hill (blue gloves) looks on during the fight against Glover Teixeira (red gloves) during UFC 283 at Jeunesse Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jason da Silva-USA TODAY Sports

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’4″ Age: 32 Weight: 205 lbs. Reach: 79″
  • Record: (12-1 MMA, 6-1 UFC)
  • Last fight: Decision win over Glover Teixeira (Jan. 21, 2023)
  • Camp: Black Lion Jiu-jitsu (Michigan)
  • Stance/striking style: Southpaw/kickboxing
  • Risk management: Good

Supplemental info:
+ Former UFC light heavyweight champion
+ Regional MMA title
+ Amateur MMA accolades
+ Brazilian jiu-jitsu brown belt
+ 7 KO victories
+ 4 first-round finishes
+ KO Power
+ Accurate left hand
^ Coming forward or off the counter
+ Sneaky check right hook
+ Hard kicks and knees
^ Variates well to the body
+ Strong inside of the clinch
^ Good underhook awareness
+ Serviceably grappling ability
^ Good grip fighting and ground striking
+/- coming off a 15-month layoff

Alex Pereira vs. Jamahal Hill point of interest: Look out for the left

Jan 21, 2023; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Glover Teixeira (red gloves) fights Jamahal Hill (blue gloves) during UFC 283 at Jeunesse Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jason da Silva-USA TODAY Sports

The main event for UFC 300 features a light heavyweight title fight between two men who are very familiar with left-sided strikes.

A talented athlete who sticks out at light heavyweight, it’s easy to see why so many are high on Jamahal Hill.

Traditionally preferring to fight from southpaw, Hill is steadily piecing together all the weapons you’d like to see from a fighter who operates out of that stance. Whether Hill is sneaking in check hooks off of his pinpoint cross or variating kicks off of his power side, the 32-year-old American does a good job of mixing his attacks to the body.

Going to the body will likely serve him well in this contest, but he’ll need to be careful when changing his level or potentially overthrowing shots given the possible counters from Alex Pereira.

Although many will immediately point to the counter left hook, it is ultimately the proprioception of Pereira that makes him so accurate and dangerous in all that he does.

Whether he’s hitting his opposition with surprising spin kicks or splitting right hands inside of the danger zone, Pereira demonstrates a preternatural instinct to find and hit targets in motion. This could also be why his defensive layers can seem lackadaisical at times, but the Brazilian does a decent job of playing off his lowered guard and purposefully slow prods in order to invite opponents into awkwardly angled counters.

And when Pereira is the one pushing opponents on the back foot and towards a barrier, he wields one of the more understated jabs in MMA.

Pereira’s kicks, though improved (particularly when being used for returns), also come with an awkward kicking gate in tow, almost as if he’s trying to stay planted for counter-hook attachments at all times.

When facing southpaws, Pereira will still target his opposition’s lead leg, but isn’t beyond attacking the rear extremity a la Sittichai Sangkhachot. Pereira will also still utilize his lead hand effectively against lefties, showing a knack for finding a southpaw’s blindspot with either left hooks or crafty kicks.

Nevertheless, Pereira is not beyond eating classic southpaw kicks and counters, so he’ll need to respect what’s coming back at him on the feet.

Alex Pereira vs. Jamahal Hill breakdown: Potential grappling threats

Jul 29, 2023; Salt Lake City, Utah, USA; Jan Blachowicz (red gloves) fights Alex Pereira (blue gloves) during UFC 291 at Delta Center. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

Considering where Pereira’s perceived on-paper weaknesses are, no one should be shocked if Hill elects to dust off his grappling chops this Saturday.

Although Hill comes in with zero takedown attempts in his UFC career, I warn anyone discounting the former light heavyweight champion in this space.

When going back to watch some of Hill’s regional fight footage, I found out that the American fighter wasn’t kidding in regards to grappling being his gateway into mixed martial arts.

Even back in his fourth professional fight in 2018, Hill displayed a decent ability to chain to and from single-leg variations, competently completing finishes. Although it is much more common for Hill’s defense to be on display, it is apparent that he’s been quietly working on his wrestling when seeing where his head is at in exchanges (as well as listening to the instructions he gets from his corner).

On the mat, Hill’s game – outside of being caught by Paul Craig – appears very applicable to MMA.

From topside, Hill seems to smartly prioritize passing and punching, but will confidently apply himself from the mount position should it become available. And when Hill finds himself on the bottom, the Brazilian jiu-jitsu brown belt seems both composed and active while either attacking or looking for sensible get-up solutions.

If Hill can ground Pereira this Saturday, then the Brazilian champion will need to be much more urgent off his back given the superb grip fighting and ground striking that was on display during Hill’s last performance.
Pereira, to his credit, has shown clear improvements in grappling tie-ups and getups since working with Glover Teixeira – though I’d still like to see better underhook awareness from him.

You can argue that Pereira is at the stage of his career where he’s still trying to balance out striking and grappling defense – so the more offensive looks from Hill the better.

Alex Pereira vs. Jamahal Hill odds

Despite the oddsmakers opening the sitting champion as the favorite, public money has steadily been trickling in on the challenger, listing Pereira -140 and Hill +110 via FanDuel.

Alex Pereira vs. Jamahal Hill prediction, pick

I understand both the opening odds and the subsequent line movement, but this ultimately seems closer to a pick’em fight to me.

Hill is a dangerous competitor with a wider array of weapons to win this match on paper, so I don’t blame anyone backing the underdog at the betting window.

Aside from the looming threat of a grappling change-up from Hill, Pereira has shown some availabilities for classic southpaw counters and kicks, making everything from check hooks to liver shots live this Saturday. That said, I still find myself siding with Pereira in this spot.

Not only is Pereira the more active fighter between the two, but I believe that Hill has long held an opening for left hooks in his style.

Whether we’re looking at Hill’s low-handed strike retractions or his propensity to step heavy on his shots when getting excited, I suspect that Pereira’s patent left hook could be prominently featured in the weather forecast for this weekend. Add in the fact that Hill is coming off a long layoff due to a serious Achilles injury, and we could also see Pereira’s leg and body assaults pay extra dividends against the American.

I’ll be curious to see if Hill elects to fight more from orthodox like his last time out, but I don’t think that the offense-to-defense tradeoff will be a fair one for the former champ. For that reason, I’ll pick Pereira to produce a stoppage by strikes in the middle rounds.

Prediction: Pereira inside the distance

Alex Pereira vs. Jamahal Hill start time, where to watch

Pereira and Hill are expected to make their walks to the octagon at approximately 12:30 a.m. ET (9:30 p.m. local time in Las Vegas). The fight streams on ESPN+ pay-per-view.

For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC 300.

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