Santos entered the bout losing four of his last five contests. While those losses were against the top of the 205-pound division, Santos hoped to show that he still has a place in the Top 10. Hill ended the bout riding a two-fight winning streak and a plan to continue his rise in the division.
Hill extended his winning streak to three consecutive fights with a barrage of punches and elbows midway through the fourth frame.
Santos landed a heavy leg kick and looked for a takedown early in the opening round. Hill defended the attempt and circled away. Hill pressed forward as Santos moved laterally along the outside. Santos changed levels and worked to get the fight to the ground. Hill kept his balance and delivered a knee to the body. Santos responded with a knee and then caught one below the belt.
Santos was given time to recover and the action resumed. Santos landed with leg kicks. He connected with a counter right hand in the closing seconds of the round.
Hill delivered leg kicks to start the second frame. After absorbing two, Santos checked a third one. Santos landed a hard kick to the body. He quickly changed levels and took Hill down. Hill quickly bounced back to his feet. Hill landed a right and Santos looks for a takedown. Hill shakes off the attempt. Santos landed a right hand. Hill partially connected with a head kick. Each strike thrown by either man was meant to end the fight.
Hill continue to move forward. He landed a right hand. Santos began looking fatigued. Hill landed a right hand that wobbled Santos. Both fighters missed with huge right hands as the round ended.
Hill inched forward and landed a kick to the body to start the third stanza. Santos changed levels and put Hill on his back. Hill quickly got back to his feet. Santos kept the pressure on and put Hill back on the canvas. He briefly took Hill’s back but Hill shook him off. Santos worked to get Hill to the ground again. Hill stuffed the attempt but was slammed to the canvas seconds later.
As Hill worked to stand, Santos remained on him. He drug Hill back to the ground. Hill work his way back to standing. He landed a knee. They separated and Hill missed with a winging right hand. Santos again tried to get the fight to the ground. Hill connected with a clean knee inside the clinch, but was taken down again in the closing seconds.
They let their hands go in the fourth round. Hill continued to press forward. He landed a left hand. Santos responded with kicks. Hill landed a left hand. Santos fired back. Hill landed a right hand. Santos crumbled to the canvas. He covered up and Hill connected with punches and elbows. Referee Herb Dean stepped in and stopped Santos from taking any more damage. The end came at 2:31 of the fourth round.
“I did (expect him to wrestle). I expected him to come in and shoot. I’m a hard person to stand with,” Hill said following the win.