Powell River MMA fighter enters tournament for XFC championship

Michael Hill one of eight welterweights seeking title

An upcoming fight card in Atlanta, Georgia, will feature Powell River’s Michael “The Mercenary” Hill, who will be among eight competitors in the opening round of the XFC Welterweight Championship Tournament.

Hill (11-5-1) travelled to Atlanta on November 7 for the November 11 bout against fellow Canadian Ryan Dickson (10-5). Several protocols have to be followed prior to the fight. Hill said he knows what to expect after returning from injury for a fight on September 18 in Mississippi. The injury resulted in a two-year absence.

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“I’ve done all the COVID protocols that lead up into fight week, taken the test before you get on the plane, taken the test when I get off the plane, bubbling in a hotel for two days waiting for the test to come back, and then essentially going into the fight and all the things that come with fight week,” said Hill. “Then you have to quarantine for 14 days when you come home.”

Hill said being away from home for six weeks while training, and then for the fight, is difficult, but sacrifices have to be made.

“I have to be away from my family. I have a beautiful daughter in Powell River, and three nephews and a niece, and a baby on the way,” he added. “I’m doing what I have to do. This is how I live, this is my work, this is how I survive. I have to put food on the table for me and my family and a roof over our heads, so being out of work for two years I have to take all these opportunities while they last.”

In his last fight, Hill accepted the challenge on just 12 days notice and dropped a decision to Bobby Lee (12-4).

“I took that last fight against a college level wrestler and black belt and took the opportunity, and that opportunity gave me this next opportunity, and it’s a time right now where thousands of fighters want to work,” said Hill. “It’s like everyone else getting their job taken away from them. I’m blessed and thankful.”

Hill and Dickson have met once previously, in 2015, when Hill won by unanimous decision. Dickson is coming out of retirement and will fight for the first time since.

“I fought a month ago so I got to shake off the rust, shake off the cobwebs, where he hasn’t been able to do that yet,” said Hill. “Ryan hasn’t been there for a while but I respect every human being, every man, every woman who gets in the cage and fights for a living. It is a very tough sport, the toughest, with the biggest risks.

“I respect him and I know he trains with one of the best coaches, and he is a martial artist. He wants to make another run and the best Ryan Dickson is going to show up. It is going to be a good fight.”

After recovery from his injury, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Hill trained solely in Powell River.

“All I did was train in my backyard and at the Powell River Jiu Jitsu club with the jiu jitsu team,” he said.

Then, for his pre-fight training, he returned to where he began his career 12 years ago. 

“I went to Kelowna for my training camp, with team Toshido MMA, which is where I started at 21 years old,” said Hill. “I’m back with my team that I started with, back with my original coach David Lea after six years away.”

The XFC welterweight tournament will unfold over six months, with winners advancing to the next round of the bracket. The overall winner will become the champion of the organization and take home $50,000 in prize money.

In addition to Hill and Dickson, the tournament includes LaRue “The Cannibal” Burley (9-4) vs. Alex “Hulk” Sanchez (8-2); Bradley “Featherstone” Desir (10-6) vs. Carson “The Perfect Storm” Hardman (8-2); and Spencer “Judge” Jebb (13-7) vs. Bobby “Nashty” Nash (9-4).

XFC 43 also includes eight other bouts, including the main event. Viewing options include pay per view on NBC Sports or a live stream at fite.tv. The card begins at 2:30 pm Pacific time.

I’m the second fight of the night,” said Hill, “so I am up right away.”

For more information, go to xfcmma.net/xfc-43.

Hill will return home the next day. Following rounds of the tournament will also take place in Atlanta.

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