UFC champ Jamahal Hill: I hope ‘my brother’ Anthony Smith gets title shot, ‘even if it is against me’

To be clear, new UFC light heavyweight champion Jamahal Hill wants his first title defense to be against Jiri Prochazka, but if the timing doesn’t work out, he’d welcome a fight with his “brother,” Anthony Smith.

After all, Hill and Smith originally were slated to meet March 11 until the fight was scrapped in December immediately following Jan Blachowicz and Magomed Ankalaev fighting to a draw at UFC 282. Because that matchup failed to deliver a new 205-pound champ, the UFC turned to Hill and Glover Teixeira for a vacant title fight this past weekend at UFC 283, which Hill dominated to become the first Dana White’s Contender Series alum to earn UFC gold.

Again, Prochazka, the man who had to relinquish the belt Hill scooped up, is who “Sweet Dreams” prefers first and foremost, but there are questions about his timeline to return from a shoulder injury.

So what about Smith, who was tabbed as the UFC 283 backup fighter?

“Nothing would be happier for my brother to get a chance at gold, even if it is against me,” Hill told MMA Junkie. “He’s been around for a long time. He’s been working. He had the hiccup where he broke his ankle, something that was out of his control. Aside from that, he’s been killing it. He put away like three straight contenders, up-and-coming guys, hungry guys.”

Those three wins in a row were against Devin Clark, Jimmy Crute and Ryan Spann, but that was before Smith lost his most recent bout against Ankalaev last July at UFC 277. During the second-round TKO, Smith suffered a broken ankle.

Still, the UFC gave Smith the opportunity to back up the title fight between Hill and Teixeira on four weeks’ notice. Although Smith ultimately wasn’t needed, he failed to make championship weight at UFC 283.

Smith previously fought for the UFC light heavyweight title in 2019 when he lost a unanimous decision to Jon Jones at UFC 235. Hill, who is friends with Smith and trained with him ahead of UFC 283, hopes missing weight doesn’t affect his chance at a second title shot.

“They didn’t exactly give him the most amount of time,” Hill said. “I think they brought it up to him, mentioned, ‘Hey, we could probably use somebody as a backup.’ Then they didn’t officially make him the backup until Christmas or something like that. He was heavy, you know what I mean? Just wasn’t enough time. …

“I hope they wouldn’t hold that weight miss against him just because of the type of notice he had. Plus (he was) coming off an injury, too. People talk about the weight cut. Dude, he just broke his f*cking ankle. (He was) coming off the couch from an injury.”

The way things worked out, Smith’s presence in Rio de Janeiro ended up benefiting Hill, which he’s thankful for.

“Tremendously,” Hill said of Smith helping him before fighting Teixeira. “Him in the back before the fight, just talking, just making sure my head was level and understanding and being ready for just the moment. He helped a lot with that. He said everything and brought everything. He was on point.”

Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie