Michael Hill and Bobby Lee are well aware there could be more than just a CFFC title on the line Friday night.
Lee was originally slated to face current CFFC welterweight champion Jeremiah Wells, but he withdrew from the bout, opening the door for Hill to step in.
Hill, 33, said not only is this a great opportunity to move back on the UFC’s radar, it’s also a chance to add to his legacy with another belt.
“It would mean a lot. I’d have a big Canadian promotion and a big American promotion. It’ll just add to my legacy. That’s what it’s all about; that’s what life’s about, building that legacy,” said Hill in an interview with MMA Empire.
“One day, when I run my own gym, my grandkids are running around and I’m grandpa or great grandpa, I won’t just be talking about it. The belts are there and they’re proof from legit number one organizations in both countries.”
CFFC has proven to be an avenue to the UFC for its fighters, with the likes of Kyle Daukaus, Miranda Granger, and Sean Brady being just a few of the CFFC athletes to move on to the UFC ranks.
Lee, 24, said while he knows a title win could put him at the top of the list for a UFC call, just competing for a CFFC title proves he’s one of the best fighters not currently signed to a major promotion.
“What was cool about getting put in that fight with Jeremiah Wells originally is they recognized I’m one of the best fighters in the world not in a major organization,” said Lee in an interview with MMA Empire.
“CFFC is just on the edge of being one of those major promotions with the big paydays. I win this belt and I really am recognized as one of the best, not just in the country, but in the world, outside of a major organization. Then, we can move forward from there, whether it’s Bellator or UFC.”
Hill is battle-tested
Hill is no stranger to five-round affairs, having competed in three title fights so far in his career, and going the full 25 minutes in two of those contests. Additionally, Hill’s past eight fights have all gone the distance.
Hill said if this fight also reaches the deeper waters, he believes he will have a big advantage over Lee, who has only gone the distance five times in his career.
“Anytime a fight goes five rounds, my conditioning has been my best weapon since day one. I’ve been there and got through that kind of stuff, and it’s a huge advantage,” said Hill.
“Being in that position would obviously be a positive for me, but I really don’t see it going past two rounds.”
Although he did leave with the belt around his waist, Hill said he learned, from that fight, he needs to push for the kill more often when the openings are present.
“I need to kill the animal when I got it hurt. I’m too nice of a guy; I think having a daughter really flipped a switch in my mindset. I’m just very cautious because obviously I don’t want to take that L because I want to get to the big show,” said Hill.
“I just wasn’t mean enough. Krayco was hurt. I had him hurt, I had him broke, he was saying quit. He was saying to stop the fight, and I should’ve went in for the kill right there.”
In addition to fights falling through, dealing with a back injury for the majority of the past two years has led to Hill’s extended absence from competition.
Hill said it’s been tough being out of commission for this long, but said the hardest part was having to turn down a UFC opportunity.
“The most frustrating part was when the UFC called me for UFC Vancouver. They wanted me pretty bad, but it was such an awesome story to see Tristan Connelly get that fight and that cinderella story. It couldn’t have happened to a better person,” said Hill.
“I was on the phone with them twice, and having to say no to that was pretty heartbreaking. But when your daughter’s tugging on your leg saying not yet daddy, it’s a sign.”
Lee looking to put away the durable Hill early
When he learned Hill would be the replacement opponent for Wells, Lee said he did a little research on Hill and discovered his durability.
He said he knows Hill isn’t going to fade if the fight goes five rounds, and said he’ll be looking to end it early.
“His last eight fights have gone the distance, and that’s a lot of time spent in the cage, with two of those being five-round fights. I know he’s going to be solid for the duration of the fight,” said Lee.
“What he doesn’t have is as good of a finishing ability as me. When I get in there, I know how to finish the fight. He’s a little slower, not quite as dynamic, and not as sharp on the ground. He’s not able to put people away.”
This will be Lee’s first crack at professional title in his career, after competing under the LFA banner for the majority of his career so far.
Lee said what’s going to make the evening even more meaningful is having his long-time coach, Brock Larson, in his corner.
“What’s really cool about it is Brock Larson will be with me. He’s been with me since the beginning, since I started training jiu-jitsu with a real team when I was 12. This guy has been with me from amateur to professional. We won an amateur championship together, and now we’re going to win a professional championship together,” said Lee.
“It’s all a homegrown effort, and it means a lot he’ll be there with me. After this, we’ll have to sit down and figure out where we want to go because I’m sure the calls will be coming in.”
Lee is no stranger to finishing fights, with eight of his 11 professional wins coming inside the distance, five of which were in the first round.
Lee said although he knows everyone likes to see a fight of the night-type performance, he’s looking to put an end to the match early.
“2020 wasn’t great on a lot of fronts, but what we have seen is some really fantastic fights. There was Tony Ferguson vs Justin Gaethje and Dustin Poirier vs Dan Hooker. These fights, these really intense championship-level fights in front of no crowd, they were eerie, but really captivating,” said Lee.
“Am I looking for a fight of the night or fight of the year? No, absolutely not. I want to put on a performance of the night. I want to go take this guy down, pass his guard, submit him, and make it look real easy.”
“I’d like to give a shoutout to family back home, Powell River Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, the community of Powell River for having my back, Island MMA, West Coast Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and my mom for letting me come into her home during this camp.” Follow Hill on social media: FACEBOOK, TWITTER, INSTAGRAM
“I’d like to thank Start Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Academy, The Cellar Gym, all my teammates there, Brock Larson, and Dethrone for sponsoring me for this fight.” Follow Lee on social media: FACEBOOK, TWITTER, INSTAGRAM