Strawweight standouts Michelle Waterson and Angela Hill will look to climb the ranks as their bout was promoted to a five round main event on roughly a week’s notice this Saturday at UFC Vegas 10.
— UFC (@ufc) April 11, 2018
“The Karate Hottie” Michelle Waterson is experiencing a bit of a rough patch. On the cusp of title contention last October, Waterson is currently on a two-fight skid and is at risk of falling out of the top ten with another loss on Saturday. That’s not to say that she has experienced some dramatic drop in her abilities in the last twelve months. Consider that one of her losses was to the former queen of the division Joanna Jędrzejczyk, who recently pushed champion Weilli Zhang to the limit in the consensus Fight of the Year. While the other loss was to a resurgent former champion in Carla Esparza who is in the midst of a four fight win-streak. Waterson’s losses, despite being back-to-back, are just further proof of the level of talent currently seen at 115 pounds.
On the other side of the coin, the timing of the losses could prove costly for Waterson’s title aspirations. The title picture is currently locked with Rose Namajunas awaiting the return of the champion and other contenders like Esparza, Tatiana Suarez, and Claudia Gadelha working their way up the rankings. Waterson remains one of the most popular and marketable fighters on the roster, and the UFC continues to recognize that by featuring her in crossover events. But at 34 years old, her ability to bounce back from a three fight skid to make a title run does become a question. She has a golden opportunity to end those talks prematurely this Saturday in being promoted to the main event and all the attention it would bring.
💪 @AngieOverkill silences the NC crowd!
— UFC (@ufc) January 26, 2020
Angela “Overkill” Hill has experienced the kind of career resurgence rarely seen in mixed martial arts. When the MMA world was first introduced to her on The Ultimate Fighter, she was 1-0 and was bounced quickly from the tournament by eventual winner (and champion) Carla Esparza. After getting her shot at the UFC and going 1-2, the still green Hill was cut from the promotion and went on to grow as a fighter in Invicta. The demotion turned out to be a great one as Hill would go 4-0 including winning and defending the strawweight title. A little over a year after being cut, Hill would get the call back up to the UFC.
Since returning to the Octagon in 2017, Hill has put together a 6-6 record and most recently had a three fight win-streak snapped by Claudia Gadelha in May. But the numbers don’t reflect the popularity and reputation she has gained in the three years she’s been in the UFC. Her willingness to take short notice fights and maintain an active schedule has led to many dubbing her the female “Cowboy” Cerrone. Her stand-up style has made her a fan-favorite, leading to more profiles on her rise to prominence. Finally, the UFC made her an analyst and she made her debut on the broadcast last August. Hill has more to gain than Waterson on Saturday, with the opportunity to dispatch a more well-known and established foe on a night where their fight will command the attention.
The movement of Hill figures to be the biggest weapon on either side in the fight. Though both women are listed at 5’3, Hill carries a slight advantage in reach and does her best work using her Muay Thai at mid-range. Hill should look to keep Waterson at the end of her strikes throughout the night, using her footwork to avoid exchanges similar to what Jędrzejczyk did in her fight with Waterson. “The Karate Hottie” by comparison should look to corral Hill into the fence where she can stifle her movement and work to take the fight to the mat. She should look to get the fight to the ground where she has the most advantages and Hill’s impressive striking is neutralized.
No handshake here!
— UFC (@ufc) September 11, 2020
The winner of this fight will have their share of options in their next outing as the strawweight division looks to shake itself out. Carla Esparza stands out as an option, with a rematch for either Hill or Waterson an opportunity to show their evolution. Other names that stand out are Amanda Ribas or Tatiana Suarez should the undefeated strawweight be set for a return in early 2021.