Last Saturday at UFC Vegas 59, Hill picked up the biggest win of his career by becoming the first man in four years to stop former light heavyweight title challenger Thiago Santos with strikes. With such a big win, Hill called for a title shot against Jiri Prochazka, but with the top of the division being pretty crowded at the moment, ‘Sweet Dreams’ could be the odd man out.
On Wednesday’s episode of The MMA Hour, No. 5 ranked light heavyweight and former title challenger Smith says Hill has the perfect opportunity to work on his wrestling being the odd man out.
“I like Jamal. I like his manager, like his team, he’s a cool dude. But if we’re just speaking as an analyst here, Thiago Santos is not known as a wrestler- not a very good one. [He’s not] a very good jujitsu player,” Smith said. For example, he got six takedowns in whatever that was, 18 minutes, or whatever the hell it was. If Glover Teixeira gets one takedown, that’s just where you’re gonna end up. Jan Blachowicz is a really good wrestler, if he gets a takedown it’s just where you’re going to stay. [Magomed] Ankalaev is the same way, if he gets a top position on you, that’s where you’re stuck.”
“So, he’s got to shore that hole up. And I think if he is the odd man left out, that’s the perfect opportunity for him to take this time and really shore that up and work on his wrestling defense and some of his get ups because obviously, that’s a problem he had. He was just able to out-will and kind of just out heart Thiago on some of those spots. I think some of that’s just the position in their career they’re in right now which makes that easier to do. If I was him, I’d take this time that you’re likely going to kind of be sitting on the sidelines, waiting for an opponent to fix that part of your game.”
Smith is coming off a TKO loss at UFC 277 to Ankalaev where he broke his left ankle.
The former title challenger revealed that he still doesn’t understand where in the fight he broke his ankle but he thinks it happened when he stepped on the Russian’s foot.
As for a timetable for his return, ‘Lionheart’ believes he will return to training in 10 weeks.
“Well, fortunately, there are not any really bad tears. There are a couple of small tears around the break just from it breaking but nothing super serious,” Smith said. “So it’s six weeks, not weight bearing, and then whatever it takes to rehab after that. We’re going to do the best we can to try to not lose any strength in my leg and get all the atrophy and the weakness and speed that second process up…I would say if I had to guess and I know me, I probably say 10 weeks and I’ll be back to training.”
Smith won’t stop working for the next month as he is scheduled to work the next three UFC shows as an analyst.