For both Michael Hill and Matt Krayco, a championship win could be career-changing.
After failing to secure a title in two past attempts, Hill, 31, said winning this one on Saturday night is even more meaningful with having a young daughter waiting at home to share the moment with her father.
“To bring that belt home to her, to bring it home to my family, and to bring that home to my teammates and coaches, it’s going to mean everything,” said Hill in an interview.
“It’s going to set my life up and my journey up into the next fight for more opportunities, better opportunities, and bigger opportunities.”
In his last seven contests, Hill has gone the distance in all seven, coming out victorious in five of the decisions.
Hill said he’d been very cautious in his last few fights, just looking to secure the victory and a pay cheque, rather than pushing for a finish.
But this time around, he said his vision for fighting is much more clear, and he feels like a completely different fighter.
“I just feel like a different beast. I really don’t see this coming out of the first round,” said Hill.
“He’s going to come at me, he’s going to put it on me, because that’s what he does, and I’m going to bite down on my mouthguard and I’m going to put it on him.”
While his confidence in securing a quick finish remains high, Hill said he’s not underestimating the grit and toughness Krayco possesses on the other side of the cage.
Hill said although Krayco’s record may not be as shiny as his own, he knows his opponent has just as much cage experience, and never backs down from a stiff test.
“Records don’t matter in this sport,” said Hill.
“What matters is who you fight and when you show up to fight, and I know Krayco doesn’t back down, win or lose. He picks himself up right away and gets back in the ring, and that’s always a tough guy to face.”
Respect is Mutual
On the other side of the cage, the respect Hill has for his opponent is very much reciprocated by Krayco.
Krayco, 27, said Hill is a tough, durable, athletic opponent, and is far from an easy out to walking away as XFFC champion.
“From the first bell to the very last bell, no matter how many rounds it is, he’ll be there,” said Krayco in an interview.
“He’s got good cardio and conditioning, he’s a gamer, and he’s a grinder.”
Much like Hill, Krayco has proven his ability to go the distance, with three of his last four contests going to a decision.
Krayco said his overall game continues to evolve in a big way fight by fight, and he believes he’s ready for anything Hill throws at him.
“In the past, it’s taken a little bit for me to get my groove going in there. But I’ve made some changes and everything’s good,” said Krayco.
“If he tries to jump the finish on me early, I’m prepared and ready for that. If he’s standing in front of me from the first minute to the 25th minute, I’m ready for that too.”
Not only would this mark Krayco’s first-career title win, it also marks his first-career title fight.
With being undefeated in his last three MMA fights, Krayco said he felt an opportunity like this coming, and is slowly starting to see the stars align.
“XFFC is probably one of the biggest promotions that push their champions over to the UFC and bigger promotions,” sad Krayco.
“At the end of the day, wherever this fight takes me, it takes me. Obviously, I have big goals, big hopes and big dreams, and little by little, more and more everything just keeps becoming a reality.”
“Shoutout to Island MMA/Island Top Team, Peterec’s Martial Arts, my little girl Blythe, and all my teammates. I would also like to thank my sponsors River City Coffee, Clydesdale Moving and Hauling, Suncoast Hydroponics, Tommy at Vic City Barbers, The Fitness Academy, and Suits U for hooking up my gear
“I have a lot of people and sponsors backing me for this fight, and I want them to know I truly do appreciate their support.”