Hill (8-0) stayed perfect as a pro on Saturday as he finished St. Preux (25-15) with strikes at 3:37 of the second round. The light heavyweight bout co-headlined UFC Fight Night inside Las Vegas' Apex facility.
Despite the fact he has been fighting professionally since only 2017, Hill controlled the pace and range of the fight beautifully, against an opponent in St. Preux who was making his 23rd UFC appearance. Hill found a consistent home for his left hand to the body and finished the fight with a flurry of offense along the cage, after he hurt St. Preux with a short right hook.
"I'm feeling pretty good," Hill said. "OSP is a legend. He's been around the sport for a long time. Seasoned vet. He pushed me to a limit that I haven't been pushed to before. I just keep evolving. I'm going to keep getting better. Everybody talks about my game, keep watching."
St. Preux, who fought for a championship in 2016 and has played the role of a gatekeeper in recent years, had some success with his low kicks from the southpaw stance, but that was pretty much the extent of it. Hill was surprisingly effective in establishing his preferred range, keeping St. Preux at the end of his punches and finding him with the right hand in close quarters.
It's the fourth TKO finish of Hill's career -- and would be the fifth, were it not for the Nevada State Athletic Commission overturning his most recent win to a no contest due to a positive marijuana test. It's only the third time St. Preux has been finished by strikes in his 40-fight pro career.
Jamall Hill 👀— BONY (@JonnyBones) December 6, 2020
"I wanted to come out and do what my coaches said, stay disciplined and do the right things, proper technique and control range," Hill said. "Control the fight how it comes, and I feel I was able to do that.
"It sends a message that I'm for real, pay attention. This is not a game. I'm not just here talking, I'm not a big mouth ... I really do this. I'm really about everything that I'm saying. I truly believe everything I'm saying, and my team is behind me 100 percent."
Hill, 29, improves to 2-0 in the UFC.
-- Brett Okamoto
Marvin Vettori has had an extremely unlucky year. But the UFC middleweight contender will finish a trying 2020 with a fortunate break -- and the biggest victory of his career.
Vettori defeated Jack Hermansson via unanimous decision (49-46, 49-46, 49-45) in the entertaining, back-and-forth main event of UFC Fight Night on Saturday in Las Vegas. ESPN had Hermansson ranked No. 6 in the world at middleweight coming in.
Congrats to @MarvinVettori 💯👊🏼— Nathan Diaz (@NateDiaz209) December 6, 2020
Vettori wasn't even supposed to be here. He was Hermansson's third scheduled opponent. Hermansson was initially scheduled to fight Darren Till here, but Till withdrew due to injury. Kevin Holland was then slated to be the replacement until Holland tested positive for COVID-19 and was pulled. Vettori was moved off a scheduled fight with Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza scheduled for UFC 256 on Dec. 12 to fight Hermansson.
-- Marc Raimondi
Vettori stuns Hermansson with big knockdown in first
Marvin Vettori drops Jack Hermansson with a big punch, but Hermansson is able to recover and the fight continues.
It was kick, kick, kick from Benitez, and practically every one of them landed with a sick thud to Jaynes' front leg, back leg and torso. But it was a knee to the midsection that finished the job, crumbling Jaynes at 4:06 of Round 1.
Benitez came out attacking the front leg and attacking it hard. And once Jaynes adjusted to lessen the damage there, Benitez began targeting the back leg, body and head. Jaynes was able to block the head kicks, which was a good thing because they were coming at him with finishing power. Jaynes also found a home for a couple of right hands as he moved forward, trying to put Benitez on his back foot. It worked for a short while, but then Benitez came with the knee, and that put a sudden end to the fight.
Been on the other end of that knee. That joints serious— Sodiq Yusuff (@Super_Sodiq) December 6, 2020
For Benitez, who is 32 and from Mexico, the stoppage ended a two-fight losing streak. It was his first finish since 2018, although 18 of his 22 career wins have been by stoppage. He earned a $50,000 performance-of-the-night bonus.
Jaynes, a 31-year-old fighting in his adopted hometown of Las Vegas, lost his second in a row after having run off five wins in a row. Both of the losses have been by finish -- the only two stoppage defeats of his career.
-- Jeff Wagenheim
Dolidze rocked Allan near the end of the first round. But rather than trying to finish with punches of the ground, Doldize dropped for a heel hook.
In the corner afterward, coach Eric Nicksick told his fighter to look for more ground and pound. From there, Dolidze did just that en route to a split-decision win (28-29, 30-27, 29-28) over Allan in a light heavyweight fight.
Great corner work @AliAbdelaziz00— Belal Muhammad (@bullyb170) December 6, 2020
Dolidze went for the leg lock several times early in the fight, before getting more aggressive with strikes on the ground. Allan had success on the feet, especially late in the third round when he was walking a tired Dolidze down and landing conbinations. But Dolidze was able to take him down, like he was able to do almost on command throughout.
Dolidze, 32, is now 2-0 in the UFC and appears to be a legitimate prospect -- despite his age -- in the 205-pound division. However, he said there's a possibility he could fight at middleweight in 2021. The Republic of Georgia native and his countrymen are now 13-1 in the UFC in 2020, per ESPN Stats & Information research. Allan, a 27-year-old Brazil native, was making his return to the UFC after a one-year suspension by USADA due to a positive drug test for the banned substance tamoxifen.
Benitez finishes Jaynes with vicious knee to solar plexus
Gabriel Benitez lands a big knee to the midsection of Justin Jaynes as the fight is almost immediately stopped.
Leavitt (8-0) remained undefeated in the 22-second win, which was his first pro win by knockout. He shot into Wiman's hips, carried him toward his corner and then slammed him to the canvas as he framed his forearm across his chin to maximize impact. Wiman immediately went unconscious from the blow but did sit up on his own after several moments.
That's a serious slam 😨 #UFCVegas16— Anthony Pettis (@Showtimepettis) December 6, 2020
"Yeah, that slam is something I practice," Leavitt said. "I forget which fighter did it, but he did it a lot. Frame on the neck so they can't brace for it."
Fighting out of Las Vegas, Leavitt, 25, was making his UFC debut. He earned a UFC contract with a first-round submission on Dana White's Contender Series in August. Five of his nine career wins have come via submission, although this slam KO will give future opponents something to think about. He earned a $50,000 performance-of-the-night bonus.
Wiman, 37, has been in the UFC since 2006 but has fought infrequently in recent years. He took a year off from the sport between 2013 and 2014, and then sat for nearly another five years between 2014 and 2019. He has fought three times in the past 18 months and has gone 0-3.
Leavitt scores 12-second KO in UFC debut
Jordan Leavitt needs only 12 seconds to top Matt Wiman via slam-KO and his celebration is epic.
Twice, Smolka had been taken down and managed to scramble out of bad positions. Then he got a takedown of his own, quickly seized dominant position and allowed Quinonez no escape, raining down punches from full mount until the referee jumped in at 2:15 of Round 2.
The fighters came out with the urgency to be expected of two men coming off losses in which they had been finished in the first round. Quinonez was a ball of energy, damaging Smolka's front leg with low kicks. Smolka did not stop stalking, however, and once he gauged the timing of Quinonez's kicks, he returned fire with overhand rights.
But it was the ground work that made the difference. Smolka, a 29-year-old from Kapolei, Hawaii, who is in his second UFC stint, was able to avoid damage when taken down. And when he got the takedown into side control midway through the second round, he immediately transitioned to mount and flattened out Quinonez, leaving the 30-year-old essentially defenseless.
And Smolka then showed that when he wins, he finishes the job. Each of his past eight wins has been by stoppage. Quinonez has lost three of his past four, all by finish.
Louis Smolka finishes Jose Quinonez in Round 2
Louis Smolka smothers Jose Quinonez with a flurry of punches as Smolka grabs the easy second-round win at UFC Fight Night.
There will no longer be any sleeping on Topuria as one of the best lighter weight prospects in the UFC.
Topuria pieced Jackson up with his boxing, culminating in a gorgeous combination that put Jackson to sleep. The knockout came at 2:38 of the first round with a missile-like right hand as Jackson was backed up against the cage.
Thought this guy was just a grappler I was misinformed— Belal Muhammad (@bullyb170) December 6, 2020
The key, Topuria said, was his body work. The German-born featherweight was ripping hooks to the body from the opening bell, an inspiration from top boxer Saul "Canelo" Alvarez, he said. Topuria has been training at MMA Masters in Miami with the likes of fellow prospect Miguel Baeza.
"I was training a lot of the body shots like Canelo's style," Topuria said in his postfight interview.
Topuria, 23, was ranked No. 17 on ESPN's 25 best MMA fighters under 25 list last month. Topuria, who is of Georgian descent, is now 2-0 in the UFC. In total, he has nine finishes in 10 pro wins. Eight of those have come in the first round. Jackson, a 32-year-old Texas resident, had a two-fight winning streak snapped.
UFC middleweight-turned-heavyweight Collier earned his first win of 2020, as he defeated Villante via unanimous 30-27 scores.
Collier used to fight at 185 pounds, but he moved up to light heavyweight in 2017 and then heavyweight this year. He did well controlling the fight with his jab, low kick and a variety of other strikes on the feet. He had Villante hurt with a left hook in the opening round, and despite wearing a bloodied nose early, was never in any danger himself.
The boys were throwing!! Should be a win for Collier there. Fun fight. He looked good! #UFCVegas16— Tanner Boser (@BulldozerBoser) December 6, 2020
Neither fighter ever looked once to take the other down, as the fight took place exclusively on the feet. Villante, who also used to fight at light heavyweight, appeared to turn the tide a little in the second round -- he landed a nice short uppercut in tight and an overhand right counter -- but he was consistently beaten to the punch by Collier.
For Villante, he is now on a three-fight skid and has not won back-to-back fights since 2015. Collier picks up his first win since 2017.