MMAOB staff writer Adam Martin takes a deeper look at the main event of UFC on ESPN+ 35, a five-round women’s strawweight bout between Angela Hill and Michelle Waterson. The event takes place on Saturday, September 12 at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Angela Hill (-125)
Hill (12-8) is the No. 13 ranked women’s strawweight in the UFC. The 35-year-old American has a 7-8 overall record in the UFC over two stints in the promotion, including a 6-6 mark in her most recent run. Some of Hill’s notable victories include Maryna Moroz, Hannah Cifers, and Ashley Yoder. Hill has been incredibly active in 2020 as this is her fourth fight this year. She’s 2-1 with wins over Loma Lookboonmee and Hannah Cifers so far this year, plus a controversial split decision loss to Claudia Gadelha. Hill is primarily a volume striker who looks to keep the fight on the feet and outstrike her opponents. She has a high work rate and is accurate with her strikes, and in her recent fights, she has shown improved finishing ability. Hill has never been able to get over the hump and become a title contender at 115lbs, but a win here over the veteran Waterson would bump her into the top-10.
Michelle Waterson (+105)
Waterson (17-8) is the No. 8 ranked women’s strawweight in the UFC. The 34-year-old American is 5-4 overall in the UFC with notable wins over Karolina Kowalkiewicz, Paige VanZant, and Cortney Casey. Waterson is a highly-experienced veteran who has competed for many of the top promotions in the sport including Invicta FC, where she was the organization’s atomweight champion. Waterson has been known throughout her career for her striking, hence the nickname “The Karate Hottie,” but she also has a very underrated submission game with nine career victories by tapout. Waterson has been near the top of the women’s strawweight division for several years now but has struggled lately with two straight losses, albeit competitive decision setbacks to Carla Esparza and Joanna Jedrzejczyk. Waterson has been around the sport for a long time so if she wants to make one last run at the UFC women’s strawweight title she needs to go in there and score the upset over Hill.
Fight Breakdown: This should be a very competitive fight between two well-matched women’s strawweights. Based on both of their fighting styles, this seems destined to be a close fight that goes the full five rounds. I expect both women to try and keep this fight on the feet and look to win the fight on points. Hill has looked good lately and typically throws a higher volume of strikes, but Waterson is a solid striker herself and likely has a technical edge on the feet. I expect this to be a very close fight that will go the distance and involve the judges. This just feels like the kind of fight where the rounds will be close and we will scrutinize the judging afterward. I have to pick someone and my lean is towards Waterson because she has a better resume and more experience. Instead of picking a side here for a bet, I would take a look at the over and the fight goes the distance prop.
Prediction: Michelle Waterson wins via decision