D'IBERVILLE, MS (WLOX) - Practicing for a fight is nothing new for Tyler Hill, he's battled through dozens. But there's an extra edge to his preparation this time around.
"I know that once those lights hit me and all those people are there to see me, that's really gonna bring out the best version of Tyler Hill that you've seen so far," the MMA fighter said.
He's the headlining act for the upcoming Atlas Fights 32 at the IP Casino Resort, the latest step in a pretty remarkable journey.
"I come from Greenwood, Mississippi," Hill said. "A place where I literally trained in a shed and a cotton field."
Hill didn't grow up dreaming of reaching the UFC, but before long, it became his main purpose in life.
"I'm not sure why I started fighting MMA," Hill said. "But I played football and then I transitioned into MMA, and I wasn't very good at it at all. I just stuck with it. I've got a will and a work ethic that is hard to deal with and definitely hard to break."
That will led to a job offer to become the head instructor and manager of Alan Belcher MMA Club in D'Iberville. Within three weeks, Hill uprooted his family and relocated to the Coast to continue pursuing his dream.
"This whole process of being a professional fighter is a life style," Hill said. "It's not just something you do on the weekend for fun, it's something that you've got to live day in and day out."
Clearly, the move paid off. Hill boasts a 24-4 overall record, including a 7-1 mark in the professional MMA ranks. Some consider Hill just a fight or two away from finally breaking through to the UFC, so he's not taking his opportunity this Saturday for granted.
"Really appreciative to Atlas Fights for making the main event. I moved down here to the Coast three years ago, I've worked diligently to become a top prospect here locally and it feels good to be finally paying off."
Hill headlines a card of twelve fights this Saturday, March 24, including seven fighters from the Coast. Doors at the IP Casino Resort open at 7 p.m. and the event begins at 8 p.m. Tickets begin at $25.