Regardless of the result, Jamahal Hill stepping into the octagon at UFC on ESPN 31 is going to be a feat.

Hill’s (8-1 MMA, 2-1 UFC) journey to Saturday’s fight has not been easy by any stretch of the imagination. The light heavyweight prospect, who meets Jimmy Crute (12-2 MMA, 4-2 UFC) in a main card matchup that airs on ESPN from the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, has been through the ringer in more ways than one.

In addition to recovering from a dislocated elbow sustained in his first career loss against Paul Craig at UFC 263 in June, Hill had to navigate through a foot injury during training camp. None of that compares, however, to the tragedies in his personal life.

A quick scan through Hill’s Instagram page over the past five weeks shows him grieving multiple deaths, from a longtime training partner to a former football coach to a musician who Hill repped for his walkout. It hasn’t been an easy experience for Hill, but he said pushing through all the heartache was his only option.

“It has (been difficult),” Hill told MMA Junkie at Wednesday’s UFC on ESPN 31 media day. “It has physically, emotionally – yeah. That’s not an option (pulling out of the fight). I’ve got a family to feed, so it is what it is. I’ve got to deal with what I’ve got to deal with and I’ve got to do what I’ve got to do. It’s definitely been one of those emotionally type things, just one thing after another. But I’m here and I’m ready to go.”

Although it’s been a challenging time, Hill said he’s been able to keep his focus and drive alive. The matchup with Crute in particular is something he couldn’t turn his nose up at.

Crute has a victory over the only man to beat Hill to this point, and getting back on track against the Aussie will help put things back into place for Hill.

“The fact that he beat Paul Craig, the fact that he submitted Paul Craig – that offers a lot to me,” Hill said. “For me, as a test. I want that. I want that back.”

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