After inheriting a pro wrestling champion’s nickname, it’d only make sense that Josh Hill envy Chael Sonnen and won’t refrain from verbal sparring.
Hill (Twitter: @gentlemanjill) is a top ranked, undefeated Canadian bantamweight mixed martial artist. His 9-0 record has Hill on the UFC’s doorstep, but needing one more decisive victory before they’ll let him in.
Hill, a native of Hamilton, Ontario, built up his flawless record in Quebec and Alberta, before securing a spot with The Score Fighting Series in his hometown. Hill won three bouts under the SFS banner before they closed their doors earlier this year. Though, all three victories came by way of decision, they were one-sided dominance on Hill’s behalf, all while holding down the moniker of “The Gentleman.”
“My dad and my uncle kind of gave me that,” Hill told Jason Kelly and Corey Charron on MMA DieHards Radio on the MMA DieHards Radio Network. “My great uncle, my grandpa’s uncle, was a professional wrestler. He wrestler more so in the ‘60s and ‘70s, and I think into the early ‘80s, but in the WWF back when it was the WWWF. He wrestled against Hulk Hogan and against Ric Flair when he was coming up, the Iron Sheik. His name was John Hill, his real name, but one of his famous roles – he was a tag team champ in the WWF- he was (part of) “The Valiant Brothers,” and he was known as Jerry “The Gentleman” Valiant. We kind of thought it would be cool to go by that, and it just stuck.”
Hill, a longtime wrestler like his uncle and Sonnen, gravitates towards the former UFC light heavyweight No. 1 contender, but not for his grappling accolades.
“The Gentleman” acknowledged that he is a fan of Sonnen’s shtick, but could never be as witty or ingenious as ‘The Gangster from West Linn, Oregon.” Sonnen grew on the bantamweight over time, as he did with many fans, but Hill doesn’t know if he could ever fulfill that role once under UFC contract. Actually, there are plenty of unknowns for Hill once he steps foot inside the Octagon for the first time.
For instance, Hill said he can’t practice walking out in front of 15,000 people for the first time. It’s those things you can’t rehearse before the big show that can hinder a combatant’s performance. Hill hopes that the miniscule things don’t affect him too much, and once he’s in the cage he expects any first time UFC jitters to disappear.
One thing he is sure of is who he would like to meet in his Octagon debut.
“One guy I’d like to get in there with is Bryan Caraway,” Hill said. “I think he’s a good match up for me, and also he fought one my teammates, Mitch Gagnon. He beat Mitch. Mitch was giving him a beating in the first round, but he gassed out. First UFC, I think he had some jitters as well. He got subbed in the second (round), I think it was. But, yeah, I think that would be a good fight, he’s made a name for himself now, and stylistically I think he matches up pretty good for me.”
The death of SFS has made things more difficult for Hill to get that lone bout he needs to make his inaugural Octagon appearance, but recent events may have brought him closer to a match with Caraway.
Hill took the reality TV route and tried out for “The Ultimate Fighter 18.” The show will be coached by Ronda Rousey and Miesha Tate, and it will be the first ever co-ed “TUF” house. The tryouts took place in Las Vegas several weeks ago, and Hill was number 121 out of 285 male competitors. It was a tiring, grueling procedure, but Hill cherished being a part of it.
“It was an awesome experience,” Hill said. “It was really cool to see all the guys there, and a lot of good talent and a lot of recognizable names there. The process was pretty cool; it was my first time doing it. It went great, you know, I can’t say anything about what happened, but it was an awesome experience.”
After Hill is cemented in the UFC maybe he’ll chime into his great uncle’s talents and emulate Sonnen. Maybe not. Hill has had nothing but respectful opponents thus far that don’t press his buttons. But what if someone does?
“I’m never one to go out and look for trash talking, I don’t need it, but I’m not one to shy away either,” Hill said. “I’m an easy going guy, anyone that knows me knows I’m one of the easiest going guys there is; I just like having fun. But at the same time, don’t piss me off either. If you want to talk some (expletive) and get in my face, I ain’t backing down.”